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Shakespeare in Love
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Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love (1998) is a movie (written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, directed by John Madden), starring Joseph Fiennes (as William Shakespeare) and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, and won seven, including Best Picture.

In this romantic comedy, Shakespeare is portrayed as a young, struggling playwright, plagued by money shortages, problems with women, and writer's block. Some of the characters and their lines are references to lines and characters in real Shakespeare plays -- implying that these inspire the film's Shakespeare later in life.

It should be noted that the movie is entirely fictional, and indeed often inconsistent with the historical record (for instance, the colonization of North America by the English did not begin until 1607, and Romeo and Juliet was largely written by 1596 or 1597).

Warning: Plot details follow.

At a fake audition of a play that he has not yet written a word of, "Romeo and Ethel, the Sea Pirate's Daughter", he admires the talent of a new actor, Thomas Kent, who promptly runs away. Shakespeare meets Viola de Lesseps (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), who lives in the same house as Kent, and promptly falls in love with her, which inspires him to begin writing his play again. By the time Will realizes that Viola and Thomas are the same person, she is promised in marriage to a lord approved of by Queen Elizabeth herself (portrayed by Judi Dench). But the couple find themselves unable to avoid a clandestine affair and even risk the wrath of the law against women being on stage by having Viola play "Juliet" in Shakespeare's play, by now renamed Romeo and Juliet. At the conclusion of the play, the Queen applauds the abilities of both writer and "actor," but orders that Viola rejoin her husband, who is about to move to America.

On release, the film was compared with the 1941 novel No Bed for Bacon, which also features Shakespeare writing his plays.

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