The BFI  has announced that renowned actor Sir Ian McKellen will be leading the BFI’s Shakespeare on Film programme from April 2016, with full details to be announced in January.

This news has been released by the British Council and the GREAT Britain campaign that is part of Shakespeare Lives , a global programme that will celebrate Shakespeare’s work and influence which will run throughout 2016.

The British council will be running a major global touring programme in association with the BFI that will feature twenty memorable interpretations of Shakespeare’s works for the big screen from the British Film Institute’s archive including silent Shakespeare, Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948), Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Richard Loncraine’s Richard III, starring Ian McKellen (1995).

Ian McKellen BFI National Archive
Ian McKellen BFI National Archive

William Shakespeare has inspired or influenced a great number of films as far back as 1889, with a photographic record of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s stage production King John. But it wasn’t really until sound was introduced to British films that adaptations or interpretations of Shakespeare’s work really began to take off and even then it wasn’t until the 1937 release of As You Like it , that Shakespeare began to influence cinema screens.

But it is also the number of different ways in which Shakespeare can be interpreted for cinema audiences that is fascinating to witness, broadening our attitudes and thoughts towards Shakespeare’s work – whether it is Baz Luhrmann’s more modern adaptation Romeo and Juliet or Richard Loncraine’s adaptation which placed Richard III into fascist Britain.

The Shakespeare Lives programme is a celebration of Shakespeare’s work in all forms, marking the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.  To find out more on how you can take part in these celebrations visit:  http://www.shakespearelives.org/ .

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