Action Bill

Date: 2014
Posted: AMAA Productions
Cast: Kent Pool (William Shatner, Patrick Stewart), Kenneth Haney (William Shakespeare)
Credits: AMAA Productions. Producers: Dustin Butler, Rachel James; Director: Gareth Witte; Writers: Gareth Witte, Kenneth Haney, Dustin Butler, Rachel James; Animation: Kenneth Haney, Gareth Witte; Sound design: Gareth Witte; VFX: Gareth Witte; Editor: Gareth Witter; Cinematography: Gareth Witte; Music: Nick Longoria;
Duration: 5.07

William Shakespeare is seated at home in Elizabethan England, struggling with writer’s block (literally expressed in this Lego film as a block of Lego) when his peaceful Stratford existence is rudely interrupted by the appearance of a time-travelling, angry William Shatner in a giant robot. Who will save the Bard from impending annihilation? Well, Patrick Stewart, of course, though Bill himself proves himself more than willing to take on a robot adversary, and to derive inspiration from the consequences.

This is a particularly strong example of brickfilm animation, which won first prize at the Short Bricks short competition at Cine Bricks in 2014. Settings, camerawork, lighting, music and special effects are all of the highest order, and though the dialogue is a little unclear in places (I don’t think the real Shatner would recognise himself), the pace and inventive silliness prove the film to be a worthy winner.

Brickfilms, or Lego animations, thrive through cutting down our pretensions to size while simultaneously indulging them. What we elevate they miniaturise, yet their affectionate nature confirms that we were right to elevate the subject in the first place. They mirror the confused view we have of culture at this time. Shakespeare is brought down to size and lifted up at the same time – it is a badge of honour, after all, to be commemorated in Lego. If there’s a message to the film, it’s that to be indestructible is to be immortal. Shakespeare can take on all that the future can throw at him, and still survive.

Visual effects breakdown of Action Bill

Links:
YouTube page
AMAA Productions (with behind the scenes photos etc)

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The Winter’s Tale Shakespeare for Kids

Date: 2009
Posted by: bubbales
Cast: Peirce (Leontes), Nazim (Antigonus), Thomas (Camillo), Lauren (Hermione/Perdita), Braden (Polixenes), Barbara (Paulina), Trevor (Old Shepherd), Buttercup (bear), Michelle, Ben
Credits: Directed by Michelle, Barbara, Trevor; set design by Nazim, Ahmet, Braden, Peirce; music selection Barbara, Michelle; camera Barbara, Ben, Nazim, Trevor; film editing Barbara; pupeteers Michelle, Lauren, Nazim, Trevor, Barbara; costumes Michelle, Trevor. A Later Shakespeare Production
Duration: 11.00

On the eve of Shakespeare’s birthday, BardBox’s latest discovery is this this delightful, extraordinary, weird and stylistically rich version of The Winter’s Tale. Delightful, because it is an American schoolchildren’s production of the play (in modern language and condensed to 11 minutes) which is done with such happy enthusiasm that it is a cast-iron argument all by itself for introducing Shakespeare to children at any age.

Extraordinary, because there is nothing else out there quite like it. It is unusual among online Shakespeare videos in attempting to express all of the plot of one of the plays in the short space available. It also stands out for its invention, with child and adult actors, video and still images probably employing some sort of software designed for schools projects, interiors and exteriors, with several surprise inventions, including the handy use of a map to show the distance between Sicilia and Bohemia.

Then weird, because in some respects it is a really quite peculiar experience. Seeing young children performing Shakespeare always makes you wonder if they know what it is they are doing, and if the adults involved had really thought it through, with the odd plot, odd names, odd settings, odd everything (except the language, which is not Shakespeare’s). Just what were children of six or seven supposed to make of what they were being asked to do? Except that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves so much, the exercise seems more than justified, certainly to be more than just being ‘cute’ for cuteness’ dubious sake.

And then stylistically rich, because there are so many of the particular tropes that BardBox has highlighted over the years bundled up in one video. Children speaking Shakespeare, school projects, Lego figures (Yoda as the oracle), Star Wars references, puppets, animals (a small dog plays the bear) – they are all there. Coupled with wooden acting (though Leontes expresses his rage rather well), shaky camerawork (some of it by the children) and erratic sound, this is the quintessential YouTube Shakespeare. And it all ends in a happy dance, just as such a play should do.

Happy birthday, William.

Links:
YouTube page

Then Fall Caesar

Date: 2007
Posted by: thenardier1
Credits: Created by Brian Randall for Brandall Films
Cast: Lego
Duration: 4.25

A dynamic intepretation in Lego of the assassination scene from Julius Caesar, enhanced by some creative camera work but weakened somewhat by poor picture quality.

Links
YouTube page

A Lego Soliloquy

Date: 2007
Posted by: MrFerder
Credits: Animated by Jonathan Williams, for JMW Productions
Cast: Jonathan Williams (voice)
Duration: 1.14

This interpretation of the ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy from Hamlet is animated and narrated by Jonathan ‘Mr Ferder’ Williams. A superior example of Lego animation, or brickfilms, it is crisply shot and edited, with some wry comic business taking place in the background. The idea of having Hamlet’s words spoken by a skeleton (and more of a skull than a skeleton) is something of an imaginative coup.

Links
YouTube page