'Othello' -- in Hindi -- next in Shakespeare film series

India, China, Japan and Germany all have produced movies inspired by classic plays

"Othello" or "Omkara" from India (above). Front page: Movie still from "Omkara"

"Othello" in Hindi is up next. Then it's "Hamlet" in Mandarin, "Macbeth" in Japanese and "Romeo and Juliet" in German.

All are part of “Shakespeare in World Cinema: A Film Series”, which continues throughout the school year. All the films have English subtitles, and all are to be shown Thursdays at 5 p.m. in Mandel Auditorium G03. The screenings are free and open to the public.

“Almost everybody in the world, whether an English student or not, has heard of Shakespeare,” says Harleen Singh, assistant professor of literature, who is organizing the film series. “He is very well known and his influence is felt in other literature as well.”

“Shakespeare’s themes are about family, about power, about love, about racial, ethnic and religious conflict,” Singh notes. “I don’t think there is any corner of the world that is outside of those categories. It strikes a nerve all over the world.”

Choosing the films brought together a wide range of scholars from the sponsoring Department of German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature.

“We were thinking of things we could do together and it seemed to us that one common theme is that Shakespeare is writ large on the world stage,” says Singh. “Almost every country and culture and language that is taught in my department has a cinematic and/or a theatrical adaptation of Shakespeare. We thought it would be great to showcase that.”

Singh says both classical and popular films were purposely selected, noting that director Akira Kurosawa of Japan is revered for his classic movies, while other more current films illustrate Shakespeare’s modern day appeal. “We did not just want to show Shakespeare in the category of high art,” says Singh, “but that he’s in popular films as well.”

The series continues with Shakespeare films from:

India – Nov. 18, "Othello" is rendered as "Omkara," produced in 2006 and directed by Vishal Bharadwaj. In Hindi with English subtitles. Indian-themed refreshments will be provided, and afterward Singh will join in the discussion along with Associate Professor of History Govind Sreenivasan.

China -- Feb. 17, "Hamlet" is “The Banquet,” produced in 2006, directed by Xiaogang Feng. In Mandarin with English subtitles. Discussion led by Yu Feng, Associate Professor of Chinese and Xing Hang, Assistant Professor of History.

Japan -- March 17, "Macbeth" becomes "Kumonosu-jo,” produced in 1957, directed by Akira Kurosawa. In Japanese with English subtitles. Discussion led by Matthew Fraleigh, Assistant Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture and Ramie Targoff, Professor of English.

Germany -- March 31, "Romeo and Juliet" is rendered as “Kebab Connection," produced in 2004, directed by Anno Saul. In German with English subtitles. Discussion led by Sabine von Mering, Associate Professor of  German, and Lutz Koepnick, Professor of German, film and media studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Shakespeare in World Cinema: A Film Series” is co-sponsored by the Mandel Humanities Center.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, International Affairs

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