There was a backlash at the time that Shakespeare In Love won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was deemed too light and inconsequential to have won. It was up against Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, and there was a lot of Hollywood support for that boy’s own adventure and less support for the award campaigning that went on this year. Especially by Miramax. Knowing what we do now of Harvey Weinstein and Gwyneth Paltrow, you cannot feel that most movie watching is now tainted. My personal opinion is that the opening 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan is one of the best war movies I have ever seen. The rest, however, is a bit rote. But this is not about Saving Private Ryan, this is about John Madden’s Shakespeare In Love.
I picked this film to show to my family for our weekly classic movie re-watch, because it is a movie that is a lot of fun, romantic and very difficult to get right. I have seen many a film try and fail, but this movie is really great. It is so well written by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, and he performances are well done. Twenty years later, this film holds up. I think even more so due to the fact that we do not have many movies like this made any more. This is not a film that is championed for a re-watch when the cinema chains are marketing Valentine’s Day or Classic Movies on the big screen, and I think they have overlooked a gem. Give it a go and play on.