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This behind-the-curtain look at William Shakespeare's late-career output is shockingly exciting documentary entertainment....
Acorn Media / 177 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: April 16, 2013
There is probably very little in Shakespeare: The King’s Man that those deeply versed in the output of the bard don’t already know, but for those of us with relative familiarity with his plays yet little knowledge of the historical syntax of their creation, this documentary set is deeply engaging and illuminating. Its basic argument is that William’s output after the death of Elizabeth I have a significantly unique tone and resonance than his previous writing, and the differences are often profoundly intriguing.
I can almost sense your excitement about watching a three-hour documentary about William Shakespeare’s connection with the court of King James I (zzzzzzz….), but the way The King’s Man is set up really lends a legitimate excitement to its subject matter. As narrated by Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro, this examination of the bard’s late period delivers backgrounds and analyses of his iconic works (King Lear, Macbeth, The Tempest) that bring them – and their creator – to life in wonderful ways.
Again, Shakespeare: The King’s Man is far more of an introduction to the historical context of these works than it is a university-level investigation of their more nuanced backgrounds, but seeing as this writer is no Shakespeare expert, I found the show to be interesting and frequently inspiring. Knowing even a little of the backdrop of Shakespeare’s life and times allows for these later works of his to take on a fresh breath: as if they couldn’t be more treasured dramatic achievements than they already are, The King’s Man make these works feel somehow alive in ways I’ve never known.