Ex­perts in tur­moil as Branagh plays Shake­speare with tra­di­tional large nose

Sunday Express - - DONATION COULD CHANGE A LIFE - Mike Parker

SIR KEN­NETH BRANAGH has al­ways been able to sniff out a great role. But his lat­est film may leave some snort­ing with de­ri­sion.

Play­ing Wil­liam Shake­speare in All Is True, which he also di­rects, has reignited huge con­tro­versy... over the shape of the Bard’s nose.

The clas­si­cally trained ac­tor, 57, has de­lighted many schol­ars by wear­ing a “full pros­thetic”.

Other ex­perts, how­ever, are con­vinced Shake­speare had a much smaller pro­boscis that gave him a less re­fined ap­pear­ance.

His­to­ri­ans have been di­vided for cen­turies over what the Bard looked like and which artis­tic view of him from the 17th cen­tury paints the most ac­cu­rate im­age.

Many be­lieve the most likely re­sem­blance is cap­tured by the Chan­dos por­trait, named af­ter the dukes of Chan­dos who owned it, that has been hang­ing in Lon­don’s Na­tional Por­trait Gallery since 1856. It is be­lieved to have been painted by ac­tor and artist John Tay­lor be­tween 1600 and 1610.

But in 1991 new prove­nance emerged to au­then­ti­cate an en­grav­ing by Mar­tin Droeshout on the ti­tle page of the First Fo­lio col­lec­tion of Shake­speare’s plays, pub­lished in 1623, seven years af­ter the Bard’s death. It shows the writer with a smaller nose.

Shake­speare’s friend and fel­low writer Ben Jon­son said Droeshout had “hit his face” ac­cu­rately.

Yes­ter­day Sir Ken­neth’s pub­li­cist con­firmed the triple Bafta win­ner based his ver­sion of Shake­speare on the Chan­dos por­trait. He said: “The por­trait it­self does, in fact, ap­pear in the film and it has been a great source of in­spi­ra­tion for Ken.” A se­nior ex­ec­u­tive at Sony Pic­tures, which is dis­tribut­ing the movie, re­vealed: “There was a great deal of dis­cus­sion about how Sir Ken­neth’s Shake­speare should look and he fol­lowed a very tra­di­tional path.

“There was a smaller ver­sion, based on an­other artist’s work, but he ob­vi­ously de­cided that would not work.

“Shake­speare’s goa­tee beard and quite an­gu­lar nose are pretty much em­bed­ded in pub­lic con­scious­ness.”

The ac­tor, who de­vel­oped a life­long love of Shake­speare’s works while at the Royal Academy of Dra­matic Art in Lon­don, has starred in sev­eral screen treat­ments, in­clud­ing Henry V, for which he was Os­car-nom­i­nated, Much Ado About Noth­ing, Othello, Ham­let, Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It.

All Is True, which hits UK cinemas on Fe­bru­ary 8, co-stars Dame Judi Dench as Anne Hath­away. It is set in 1613, when the Bard was al­ready recog­nised as the great­est writer of his age.

He re­turns home to Strat­fordupon-Avon af­ter his Globe The­atre is de­stroyed by fire to face his trou­bled past and con­front his fail­ings as a hus­band and fa­ther.

Dr Tarnya Cooper, for­mer cu­ra­tor at the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery, also favours the Chan­dos like­ness. She said: “It is cer­tainly fairly likely we are look­ing at the face of Shake­speare.”

Artist Ge­of­frey Tris­tram, who was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate a paint­ing for the 400th an­niver­sary of Shake­speare’s death in 2016, told of his dif­fi­culty with the task.

He said: “There are few orig­i­nal pic­tures of Shake­speare and none that are face-on.

“To be hon­est, I was scared stiff as they are very care­ful about how Shake­speare is por­trayed in Strat­ford-upon-Avon.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing the movie has gone to great lengths to get the im­age right – and quite right too.”

‘Smaller ver­sion wouldn’t work’

A NOSE BY ANY OTHER NAME: Sir Ken­neth Branagh in All Is True. Right, Droeshout’s en­grav­ing and, be­low, the Chan­dos por­trait

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.