Posts By: Austin Tichenor

Actors taking on tyrants: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘To Be or Not to Be’

A Polish acting troupe outwits the Nazis using Shakespeare codes and theatrical smarts in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 film “To Be or Not to Be,” an audacious comedy filmed as Hitler was devastating Europe. Almost the definition of a joke told too soon, the movie succeeds — and is still vital, 80 years later — by finding the tonal sweet spot between fanciful comedy and grim reality, and by presenting Shakespeare as the ultimate plea for humanity.

Is Shakespeare for everyone?

Austin Tichenor makes the case for why we should say “Shakespeare is for anyone who wants him” instead of “Shakespeare is for everyone.”

The power of restriction: Joel Coen’s ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’

A movie that honors a play’s theatricality: That’s what director Joel Coen said he wanted for The Tragedy of Macbeth, his new adaptation of the Scottish play. The result is a brilliant interpretation that’s my favorite kind of Shakespeare: it combines the artifice of theater with the techniques of film, especially the use of the… Continue Reading »

“The world unwinding”: Station Eleven, Shakespeare, and an artist’s-eye view of apocalypse

During the covid-19 pandemic, two methods of escape for me have been Shakespeare and depictions of fictional catastrophes, so you can imagine my excitement when I learned that a novel that combines both — Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven — had been adapted into a miniseries. Station Eleven depicts a catastrophic global pandemic that… Continue Reading »