Shakespeare in Love (1998)

R   |    |  Comedy, Drama, History

Shakespeare in Love (1998) Poster

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

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  • Gwyneth Paltrow at an event for Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • Ben Affleck at an event for Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • Ben Affleck at an event for Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love (1998)

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Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast


John Madden


Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

1 March 2000 | andy-227
Can you say "overrated"?
After "Shakespeare in Love" won almost every nomination, and beat "Saving Private Ryan" for Best Picture, I decided I had to see it. I never got around to seeing it in the theater, and I had to wait for it to come to video. After seeing nearly all of this year's Best Picture nominees, I felt more inclined to see it than ever. I finally rented it on DVD, came home, popped it in, and expected a really great film. As much to my shock as was my disappointment, it wasn't.

"Shakespeare in Love" is not a bad film, and there are some things I liked about it. It was a sumptuous period piece, and I admired Geoffrey Rush's performance, since he never ceases to amaze me with his acting talent. Gwyneth Paltrow was fair, although her performance didn't stun me. However, the whole time I was watching this, my mind couldn't help but drift elsewhere, and I had to wake myself up in order to pay attention. My point is, it simply didn't grab me. Most of the Best Picture nominees and winners are films that grab my attention and have a strong influence on me. This one didn't. It was a cute love story, but not strong enough in my opinion to receive as much as a nomination. It deserved awards for costume and set design, and Geoffrey Rush's performance, otherwise no. This film was not one of the best films of 1998! No way!

Also, in the age of Columbine when theater owners are obsessive about carding children for getting into R-rated films, I can't see how this got an R-rating. So what if we caught a glimpse of Gwyneth Paltrow's boobies. "TITANIC" let us see Kate Winslet in full view, and that got a mild PG-13. There is no explicit violence or sex in "Shakespeare in Love". The MPAA's obsession with sex or nudity in any shape or form onscreen is uncanny.

As for the overall quality of "Shakespeare in Love", it was well done. I never said that it was a bad film, and I sort of liked it. However, the fact that it won the Academy Award for Best Picture, proclaiming it as the best film of 1998, does nothing but disappoint and anger me.

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Did You Know?


Writer Marc Norman got the idea for the film when his son Zachary called him from Boston University and suggested doing something on William Shakespeare as a young man in the Elizabethan theatre. It took two years for Norman to come up with the idea of having Shakespeare struggling with writer's block on "Romeo and Juliet".


Hugh Fennyman: Henslowe! Do you know what happens to a man who doesn't pay his debts? His boots catch fire!
Hugh Fennyman: Why do you howl when it is I who am bitten?


In the final credits, the clouds in sky don't move or change shape at all for the whole length of the shot; revealing that a still picture is used in the background.

Alternate Versions

The Region 2 DVD contains some deleted scenes:

  • A different end sequence. Here the conversation between Will and Viola is shorter than in the final film. After Viola has left Burbage enters and stops Will from running after Viola. He also takes the 50 pounds and says "Welcome to the Chamberlain's Men". The scene where Lord Wessex's ship sinks is also different. Here we see that Viola survives the drowning and is washed ashore an unknown coast. There she asks two people where she is. Their reply is "This is America".
  • A slightly different version of the scene where Burbank and his men fight against Will and his actors in the theatre. The sequence is largely the same as the scene used in the final film but parts are shown from different angles. A small conversation between Fennyman and Henslowe is added where they discuss about business.
  • A small scene which takes place after Henslowe has announced the audition. Here the two actors John and James walk to the court to play witnesses. When they meet the other actors and hear that Will Shakespeare needs actors for his new play they follow them to the audition.
  • A deleted take where Tom Wilkinson announces that he will be playing the apothecary. To Rushs question "How does the comedy end?" Fiennes replys "By God, I wish I knew". Then Rush says "By God, if you do not, who does? Let us have pirates, clowns and a happy ending and you'll make Harvey Weinstein a happy man."


The Play & the Marriage
Written by
Stephen Warbeck
Performed by Catherine Bott
Conducted by Nick Ingman


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Comedy | Drama | History | Romance

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