Shakespeare and the Indie Auteur: Michael Almereyda and James Gray

Academic Article


  • Positioned against the trends that dominated the American film industry in the 90s and 00s, the indie film movement sought to return to the ideals that animated auteurist theory at its inception: low-budget production, strong stylistic personality, character-driven, small-scale narratives, interest in youth culture, concern with themes of independence and alienation. Shakespeare has long been linked to independent filmmaking throughout film history, as the Shakespeare films of Orson Welles, Gus van Sant and Kristian Levring attest. Among those who have most recently brought the indie sensibility to bear upon Shakespeare are Michael Almereyda and James Gray, whose Shakespeare films (Almereyda’s Hamlet and Cymbeline, Gray’s We Own the Night) have used Shakespeare to address the issue of issue of youth culture’s relationship to the American mainstream. Douglas Lanier’s essay examines how these cinematic filmmakers adapt Shakespeare to an American indie sensibility and thereby claim him as an auteurist forebear. Almereyda, he argues, returns in Hamlet and Cymbeline to the problem of the younger generation creating a viable cultural alternative; Gray by contrast is interested in using Shakespeare’s I Henry IV to explore the possibilities for the potential for positive, heroic action in an overwhelmingly corrupt world.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • 2016
  • Keywords

  • 0000 0000 8130 9413
  • 0000 0001 2103 2683
  • 0000 0001 2133 9394
  • 1500-1599
  • Cymbeline(1609)
  • Cymbeline(2014)
  • Hamlet(1600-1601)
  • Hamlet(2000)
  • We Own the Night(2007)
  • Almereyda, Michael(1959- )
  • English literature
  • Gray, James(1969- )
  • Henry IV plays
  • Shakespeare, William(1564-1616)
  • United States
  • dramatic arts
  • film
  • film adaptation
  • history
  • independent filmmakers
  • romance
  • tragedy
  • youth culture
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 451
  • End Page

  • 468
  • Volume

  • 34
  • Issue

  • 3