A film that pays homage to one of the most beautiful and tragic love stories ever created, “Shakespeare in Love” depicts the life of young playwright, William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) as he brings to life the tragedy of “Romeo and Juliet”, and with it, sparks his own tender romance with Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), a beautiful woman who can never truly be his.
“Shakespeare in Love” is a love story inspired by the catalyst of pure love which intertwines Will Shakespeare and Lady Viola with the star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. When the story begins, Will Shakespeare is a writer whose inspiration eludes him. He seeks solace with beautiful women hoping to find an inspirational muse, but his only companions are the empty pages of a far-off masterpiece and the aching emptiness of a heart that craves love and receives only heartache. Will’s inspiration is ignited when he encounters Lady Viola disguised as a common player, and as his love for the beautiful Viola strengthens, so too does his inspiration to create a truly unique love story.
Viola is a lady of high regard who defies the wishes of her family, her fiancé, and even her Queen in order to breathe the essence of love into the most tragically romantic play in history. She achieved what they could not by breaking the shackles of societal tradition and following her own dreams. Although the law expressly forbids women from performing in the theatrical setting, Viola achieves this feat first by masquerading as a man to win the role of Romeo and then taking up the role of the beautiful Juliet, ultimately proving that true love can be illustrated through dramatic expression. Viola’s character reflects many of the women created in Shakespeare’s plays, particularly Katarina and Juliet. She is a strong young woman who is unwilling to be subjugated by a man or by societal expectation, but rather, she wishes to follow her own path to achieving her dreams and finding true love.
There is an intriguing underlying theme woven into the fabric of the story. The theme is love and the question that the characters must ponder is: can love truly be expressed in a play? The answer to this query is a resounding and absolute yes. The play is able to successfully illustrate true love because the very essence of the play is an inspired reflection of the love shared between William Shakespeare and Lady Viola. There are striking similarities between the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, and the love which entwines Shakespeare and Viola. They share an equally powerful love, but they are both separated by family and societal expectation. In the end, their love is powerful enough to break the prejudices which surround them and allow others to recognize the truth, but it is not strong enough to allow them to remain together. In the end, their love can only endure in the pages of William Shakespeare’s plays.
“Shakespeare in Love” is recognized by the world not only as a truly extraordinary love story, but a story that achieved extraordinary acclaim as well. The film received seven Oscars in 1999 including Best Actress in a Leading Role for Gwyneth Paltrow, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Judi Dench, Best Music and Best Picture. The film went on to claim three Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture for Gwyneth Paltrow, and Best Screenplay.
“Shakespeare in Love” is one of the most extraordinary depictions of Shakespeare’s work to date. The emotionally charged storyline along with an exceptional cast and stunning costumes and music breathe life into a film that pays homage to one of Shakespeare’s greatest masterpieces. This film is highly recommended to anyone who loves Shakespeare and enjoys a good comedic romance.