Cunk on Shakespeare (2016) Movie Script

This programme contains strong language
'400 years ago, this
year, the world famous
play-writer William Shakespeare
stopped happening.
'I've been studying
Shakespeare ever since I was
asked to do this programme
and it turns out
'he's more than just a bald man
who could write with feathers.
'And the story of whether
he was best at writing
ever is more interesting
than you'd imagine.'
But why do we still talk about Shakespeare?
We don't talk about Les Dennis any more,
even though he's still alive and
hasn't done anything wrong.
Did Shakespeare write nothing but
boring gibberish with no relevance
to our modern world of
Tinder and Peri-Peri Fries?
Or does it just look,
sound and feel that way?
That's what I'm going on
a journey to find out.
'Along the way, I'll probe
Shakespeare's life,
'study his Complete Works
'and speak to Shakespearian
experts and actors.'
Do you just learn the famous bits,
like "To be or not to be?"
Or do you learn all the
bits in-between, as well?
I have to learn all the bits in between.
Are you fucking joking?
No, no, no.
I mean, it's big and it takes a
bit of time, but... Shut up.
So join me, Philomena Cunk,
as I go on a journey all the way into
William Bartholomew Shakespeare,
the man they call
The King of the Bards.
Deep below Stratford And Avon, in a
secret location on Henley Street,
is a treasure trove of
Shakespearean proportions.
That looks really old. It is.
So, this book dates from 1600
and it has the records that
go back to 1558. Yeah.
It's written on the front
It's a bit wonky, in't it?
Like a... Suppose they didn't
have rulers, did they?
It's a very old book that's
made from animal skin
and then I'll just use
the weights to keep...
It's sort of like waxy
A4 paper, in't it?
It is a little bit waxy, yeah.
That's the, the, erm...
That's the juices of the animal...
Coming out, yeah.
And this is the page where we have
Shakespeare's baptism recorded.
And it's written in Latin, the
inscription... What does that say?
This baptism record is for William,
the son of John Shakespeare.
This is a bit like Who Do You
Think You Are?, isn't it?
It is in a way, yeah.
If you're tracing your family history,
these are the records that will
give you the information you need.
But he'd, sort of, call it, Who
Dost Thou Thinkest Thou Art?
He might, yes. And he'd go like that.
He may well have done, yes.
Flourish. Yeah.
'This is the actual house in
which Shakespeare was born,
'here, on our Planet Earth.'
As a baby, Shakespeare
showed few signs of becoming
the most significant figure
in literary history,
so nobody bothered noting
down the details of his life.
That's why we can't be sure
about his date of birth
and don't know anything
about his childhood,
except that he probably had one,
otherwise he'd never
have become a grown-up.
'The facts may be hazy, but we can
probably guess that Shakespeare
'as a boy would have looked
much like boys today,
'but bald and with a ruff instead
of an Angry Birds T-shirt.'
This is the actual school
he probably went to.
School in Shakespeare's day and age
was vastly different to our own.
In fact, it was far easier
because you didn't have
to study Shakespeare.
'At the age of 18,
'Shakespeare married his teenage
sweetheart Anne Hathaway.
'But when did Shakespeare stop
mooning about with his wife
'and start doing plays?'
We don't exactly know,
because what happened next
were Shakespeare's lost years.
'We don't know what happened
during the lost years.
'Shakespeare probably spent a lot
of his time staring wistfully
'out of leaded windows
and pretending to think,
'and then write things
down with a feather pen.'
But we do know he
eventually came to London,
just like his most famous
character, Dick Whittington.
'Almost immediately, he began to
make waves in the world of theatre.'
It's hard to believe today,
but back then people really did
go to the theatre on purpose.
And they went to see
something called "plays".
'In plays, things happen in front
of you, but at actual size.
'Unlike television, which is smaller,
'or cinema, which is bigger.'
You'd think that would make
plays the most realistic form
of entertainment in existence,
but instead they're nothing
like real life, at all.
And that's because everyone shouts.
Speak the speech, I pray you,
as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue.
Not proper shouting, like
when a bus won't let you on,
or shouting because of an emotion.
In plays, people shout no
matter how they're feeling,
because they put the seats too far away.
'There were many plays
written in ancient times,
'but the plays Shakespeare
wrote echoed through the ages
'and not just because they were shouted -
'but because they were good.'
'Now is the winter of our discontent
'made glorious summer
by this sun of York.'
We few,
we happy few,
we band of brothers.
To be, or not to be:
That is the question...
Shakespeare actually invented
seven different genres of play:
'and historical.'
And Shakespearean.
Throughout this programme,
I'm going to be taking a
look at each genre in turn,
in a sort of format point
thing they're making me do.
'We'll start with horror.'
'Popular entertainment in Shakespeare's
day was often unpleasant,
'involving public humiliation and
mindless cruelty to animals,
'with no Ant and Dec to
take the edge off it all.'
This brutality was reflected
in some of Shakespeare's
most horriblest plays.
'For instance, his early
work Tightarse And Ronicus
'is so jam-packed with violence and murder,
'it's basically a posh Friday the 13th.
'Here we see Titus himself slitting
the throats of his enemy's sons,
'while his daughter collects their blood.
'All of it occurring in front
of a horrified Harry Potter.'
Graphic scenes like this
were considered shocking
even in Shakespeare's day,
which is quite an achievement
considering people used to shit out
of their own windows back then.
'But shitting out the
window wasn't all fun.
'It encouraged rats,
'who carried a devastating illness
called the Bionic Plague.'
The plague killed about
10,000 people in London
and when they'd finished coughing,
the survivors needed cheering up.
'And luckily, Shakespeare had
just invented a new type of play
'called a comedy.
'Some of Shakespeare's most
successful plays were comedies.
'Critics say his comedies
aren't very funny,
'but to be fair that's only because
'jokes hadn't been invented back then.'
Of course, if you go to watch
a Shakespeare comedy today,
you'll hear the audience laughing
as though there are jokes in it,
even though there definitely aren't.
That's how clever Shakespeare is.
'Even at this early stage of his career,
'there was no doubt Shakespeare
was the best at writing plays.'
But there was enough doubt
that he had to start his own
theatre company to put them on.
'He also built the Globe Theatre
from old bits of another theatre,
'inventing upcycling, and he
probably made the word up as well.
'He was a better playwright
than he was an architect.
'That's why he didn't put a roof on it.
'But, to be fair, Wimbledon didn't
get a roof until a few years ago.'
If you've never seen
Shakespeare at The Globe,
imagine a three-hour YouTube
clip happening outdoors,
a long way from you in a
language you barely understand.
And if I find it confusing, it must
have blown the minds off some of
Shakespeare's first audiences,
who were only slightly more
sophisticated than trees.
'They might have been thick,
'but Shakespeare's audiences
had loads of fun,
'heckling the actors and cackling a
lot in a sort of mad peasanty way.'
'And that.'
'To tell me more about Shakespeare's
disgusting audiences,
'I spoke to this man.'
Who are you and what's your game?
I'm Iqbal Khan and I'm a theatre director.
What was theatre like in
Shakespeare's day?
Were all the audiences
really rowdy then, you know?
Did they wear tunics and
have mud on their faces?
The audiences ranged from the
ordinary common working people,
who'd stand around the theatre here
and then they'd range to the aristocrats,
who would sit at the top of the theatre.
Right, so some of them had to stand up.
They didn't have chairs.
No. No, they'd be standing.
I've never had to stand
for a whole Shakespeare.
I don't think I could do it.
I'd be livid if I didn't have a chair.
I think audiences quite enjoy it.
Particularly now...
I don't think they do
enjoy standing, do they?
They actually enjoy the
experience of standing.
Who's told you that?
'Shakespeare's works are
still performed now
'and not just in theatres.'
There are countless different ways
of interpreting Shakespeare's plays.
There's properly - with all wooden
furniture and beards and swords
and people dressed up as
sort of two-legged pageants.
Or there's modern - where they speak
in Shakespearean gobbledegook
while dressed in contemporary clothing -
a bit like Russell Brand.
You decentious rogues,
That rubbing the poor itch
of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?
And there's startlingly
avant garde productions,
which look and sound like this.
How now, spirit! Whither wander you?
Over hill, over dale, Thorough
bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere.
'Incredibly, even today
'people actually go to see
this sort of thing, '
despite it being completely
fucking unwatchable.
Speak again, thou run away,
thou coward.
What sort of people come
to see Shakespeare today?
Is it mainly people
who wear glasses?
Yeah, I'm sure there are
a few people that wear
glasses that come to see it.
Yeah, I think all kinds
of people come to see it.
But a lot of short-sighted people.
Possibly? Not a lot though...
Yeah, loads!
Loads, I was looking around.
Right, 80% of the audience were
wearing glasses. I doubt that.
Are you saying I'm a liar?
No, I just said I doubt that 80% of
the audience were wearing glasses.
I think they were.
Maybe you need like a big bifocal
lens in front of the stage.
"Leave your glasses at home,
come to the theatre."
What about those people
that aren't short-sighted?
Oh, yeah, you'd need
different lenses, don't you.
Shakespeare's just as popular
today as he's always been.
There's even a Royal Shakespeare
Company named after him,
who insist on putting on his shows
whether people want them or not.
What is it about Shakespeare
that makes them bother?
'Perhaps it's because he wrote
about universal human needs,
'like wanting to murder a
king, or have a romance.'
We don't know much about how love
and romance worked in olden times,
because back then people didn't write
blogs about their dating misadventures.
But thanks to Shakespeare, what
we do have is Romeo and Juliet,
easily the finest romance of
the pre-Dirty Dancing era.
'Romeo and Juliet is about
'these two rich, powerful
families who hate each other.
'These two families are the
Montagues - who sound quite posh -
'and the Capulets, who
invented the headache tablet.
'They're perfectly happy having their
feud until the touching moment
'Romeo, from one side, spots
Juliet, from the other.
'It's love at first sight,
but from a distance -'
just like on Tinder.
My lips, two blushing pilgrims,
ready stand
To smooth that rough touch
with a tender kiss.
'Soon Romeo and Juliet are in love,
'even though they come from
two different families, '
which is how we know it
isn't set in Norfolk.
O Romeo, Romeo!
Wherefore art thou Romeo?
'To find out more
about Romeo and Juliet,
'I went to talk to Shakespearean
expert Stanley Wells.'
Why do you think Romeo and Juliet is
the most successful romcom of all time?
Well, it's very beautiful, isn't it?
The love story between Romeo and Juliet.
It has some very beautiful poetry in it.
People like a happy ending, don't they?
Oh, they like a happy ending, yeah,
but they don't get it, of course, here.
What do you mean?
Oh, you know, the ending -
they die.
You know, the lovers
- Romeo and Juliet, I mean...
They die at the end? Oh, yes.
Juliet poisons herself, then
Romeo comes in and he dies, too.
So, we should put a
spoiler there, should we?
But after that, their families are
reconciled, so that's quite nice.
I don't understand why the
Montagons and the Caplets
just won't let them muck about together.
Well, they're not really adults, are they?
I mean, Juliet's not yet 14.
You know, her nurse says
so in the play. What?
She's only a young girl.
- She's 13 years old?!
- That's right, yes.
I'm not surprised the families are
trying to split them up then.
I'd have rang the police.
'With the success of Romeo and
Juliet, Shakespeare was on a roll.
'He had respect and prestige
and he was coining it,
'if they had coins back then.
I haven't checked.'
As his reputation grew, Shakespeare
became popular with royalty.
So, he wrote stuff they'd enjoy
in the hope of gaining
power and influence,
like Gary Barlow does now.
Shakespeare's first royal fan
was Queen Elizabeth One.
The person, not the boat.
'Shakespeare wrote loads
of plays about royals,
'known as his History plays.'
It was his way of pleasing
the king and queen
by doing stuff about their families.
A bit like when your mum
buys the local paper
because your brother's
court appearance is in it.
'Perhaps Shakespeare's best
history play is Richard Three,
'which is about this sort
of Elephant Man king.
He'd be done in computers now
by Andy Serkis covered in balls,
'but in the original he was just a
man with a pillow up his jumper.'
It's quite modern because it's a
lead part for a disabled actor,
providing they don't mind being
depicted as the most evil man ever.
I am determin'ed to prove a villain.
Richard Three is actually based on
the real King Richard of Third,
who was in the Wars of the Roses.
A horse! A horse!
My kingdom for a horse!
'At the end he loses his horse and
ends up wandering around a car park
looking for it, where he eventually dies.'
Because in those days you
couldn't find your horse
just by beeping your keys and
making its arse light up.
'It's quite moving and human,
'because we've all worried we might
die in a car park, if we, like,
lose the ticket and can't get the
barrier up and just die in there.
Shakespeare makes you
think about those things,
and that's hard.
When Queen Elizabeth died,
James One took over.
He was Scottish and
dead into witches,
which Shakespeare put
straight into Macbeth.
Like an arse kisser.
'Macbeth is a tale of paranoia
and king-murder set in Scotland,
'probably for tax reasons.
'It's about a man called Macbeth,
'who's so famous
he's only got one name.'
Like Brangelina.
'Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!'
'Macbeth also has a female
sidekick called Lady Macbeth,
'who was very much the Ms.
Pac-Man to Macbeth's Pac-Man.
'In a spooky encounter,
Macbeth meets some witches,
'who tell him he's going to
become king of Scotchland.'
Which back then was apparently
considered a good thing.
'The witches aren't in it
as much as you'd expect,
'quite a lot of it's about
ordinary murder.
This is a sorry sight!
It seems a shame to introduce witches in it
and then make all the murders
normal with just knives and swords.
Maybe if Shakespeare had
thought a bit harder
he'd have put some magic murders in.
Like a big magic hand
coming out a toilet
and pulling someone's arse inside out.
'Nevertheless, there's plenty
of violence and bloodshed
'and an iconic scene in which
Macbeth is startled at dinner
'by the unexpected appearance
of Banquo's Ghost,
'played here for some
reason by the letter H.'
Which of you have done this?
What, my good lord?
Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
Thy gory locks at me.
'By now, Shakespeare had built
a considerable body of work,
'which is collected in something
called the First Folio.'
This is the actual book Shakespeare
wrote with his bare hands,
the only remaining copy
of any of his plays.
It's amazing to think that if
anything happened to this,
the entire works of Shakespeare
would be lost forever.
So, before I touch it, I need
to put on special white gloves.
Well, we don't actually need to
wear white gloves, Philomena.
The advice we have and the
best practice we follow
is not wear gloves, because you lose
the sensitivity in your fingers
and you're more likely to damage the
book by wearing gloves than not.
Well, they're here now. If
you've got clean hands,
take the gloves off, we
don't need them at all.
Well, I've brought them, so...
It's very good
of you to bring them,
but we don't need them
and we can't let you turn the pages
of the book if you've got them on.
Simon Schama gets to wear gloves.
Well, he doesn't wear them here.
Why not?
Because when we're handling
books and documents
we don't need to
wear gloves, at all.
So what's the difference
between a book and a folio?
A folio's the name that's given
to the paper that's in the book.
It implies it's been folded once,
which is where the name
folio comes from.
So, why don't we just call it a book?
We can call it a book.
That's absolutely fine. OK.
You know when you read
a word in a book
and you sort of hear that
word in your head? Mm-hm.
How did they get the sounds into the
ink to make it play in your head?
Well, what they're doing is they've
got all the words written down
and spelled out and they put those
letters into the printing process
and then print them on the page.
And then it's as you're reading it,
you're making the sounds in your head.
And you can hear them talking, can't you?
Yeah, because you know what the
words mean and how they sound,
you can then play it back
to yourself, if you like.
Are these plays like computer code
and the actors like characters
in a computer game?
I suppose that's one way
of looking at it.
The words are the lines
- so they're telling the
actors what they need to say -
and then you'll find stage
directions telling them what to do.
So, in a way, they're like
a set of instructions.
So, in a way, Shakespeare
invented computer games?
I don't think he'd have
seen it like that and
that's not quite the
case with what it is,
but you can make a comparison
or an analogy between the two.
So, he invented computer games.
No, not really, no.
That's amazing.
'Most of Shakespeare's plays
'are about stuff that actually
happened, like kings.'
Or could happen, like a
prince talking to a ghost.
But some of his plays are more magical.
They're fantasies.
'The Tempest is about this shipwreck,
'which happens at the beginning,
not at the end like Titanic, '
which is a brave move.
'The survivors get stuck on this
island where this wizard lives
'with his daughter and these monsters.'
What's interesting about The Tempest
is that usually Shakespeare's
stories sort of make sense,
even though all the talking's in gibberish.
But in The Tempest, the story
doesn't make sense either.
You are three men of sin,
whom Destiny,
That hath to instrument this lower world
And what is in't, the never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you.
It's like Shakespeare squared,
which is probably why hardcore
Shakespeare fans like it,
because it shows they understand
it, which they can't.
'The way Shakespeare's written makes
it hard to wrap your head around,
'which is why it's taught in school
when your brain's at its bendiest,
'by people like this man,
'the fictional English teacher from
TV drama Educating Yorkshire.'
When you teach a kid Shakespeare,
do their heads grow physically bigger?
No. They don't, no.
How does iambic pente-meter work?
I think you're talking
about iambic pentameter,
which is the way that, kind of...
Iambic penta-meter.
Pentameter, yeah. Penta-meter.
Well, pentameter, so...
It would be a line of prose
that would have ten syllables
with five particular stresses on.
Not Pente-meter?
No, not pente-meter.
No, it's pentameter. Right.
Someone told me... I was
misinformed, it's fine.
Who told you?
See him, over there? Oh, right.
Erm... No, it's pentameter, yeah.
Iambic pentameter.
Just to clarify.
I wonder if all of Shakespeare's
plays are suitable for kids.
Because there's that one about
the dairymaid, isn't there,
with the special pump.
I'm not aware that that's
a Shakespeare play.
She works on a farm. She's
got a special pump.
No, I don't think that's a
Shakespeare play, at all.
No, it doesn't sound very much like a
Shakespeare play, at all. It's disgusting.
'Shakespeare once said, "Every
dog will have his day."
'and with his own theatre
and lots of plays,
'he was certainly having his.
'But soon that day would turn to night.
A long, dark night.
'Like in Finland.'
In 1596, Shakespeare's son Hamnet
shuffled off this mortal coil,
then he died.
And a few years later, his
father John kicked the bucket
and also died.
As Shakespeare's life went
sad, so did his plays.
If you were asked to pick
what Shakespeare did best,
most people would say tragedy,
which is one of the few things
he has in common with Steps.
'Shakespeare's tragedy plays are the
most performed of all his works.
'None more so than Hamlet, with
its famous speech about bees.
To be, or not to be:
that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in
the mind to suffer the
slings and arrows of
outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of
troubles, And by opposing end them?
To die: to sleep, no more.
And by a sleep to say
we end the heart-ache
and the thousand natural
shocks That flesh is heir to,
'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
To die, to sleep.
To sleep: perchance to
dream: ay, there's the rub.
For in that sleep of death
what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off
this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
What was all that about then?
Alas, poor Yorick.
'Most people have heard of Hamlet,
even if they haven't seen it
'because it sounds quite boring.'
So, what's it about?
Well, I have seen it and
it's about four hours long.
'The main character, who is
Hamlet, is visited by his father,
'who is a ghost.'
Remember me.
'The ghost tells Hamlet to take revenge, '
but Hamlet doesn't know what to do
and that's why the play is so long.
I do not know why, yet I live to say:
this thing's to do.
In something gritty like Taken,
Liam Neeson knows exactly what to do.
I will look for you, I will find you...
...and I will kill you.
'So you're - bang -
straight down to action.
'Which makes the film really
exciting and over quite quickly.'
If Shakespeare had written
Taken, it'd be four hours long
and be mainly Liam Neeson fretting
and pacing and talking to bones.
That's the basic difference
between Hamlet and Taken.
Liam Neeson makes up his mind.
I told you I would find you.
'Shakespeare never wrote
anything even close to this
'white-knuckle knife fight in a kitchen.
'Instead, he wrote incredibly
long speeches full of words.'
How important are the words
in a Shakespeare play?
Like, could you do it without the words?
without the words, there isn't
much left, to be honest.
So I think probably that's
the bedrock of what we do.
'And to be fair, Shakespeare
was no ordinary word-monger.
'He didn't just use words,
he invented them, too.'
Shakespeare made up words, didn't he?
He did that all the time. Mm-hm.
He made up so many words.
He made up about a thousand
words that we still use today.
Did he? Mm-hm.
Right, I've got a list of words...
OK... that he might or might
not have made up. OK.
And you tell me if Shakespeare
made them up or not. OK.
No, I don't think so.
No. Truffle-balling.
No. Ceefax.
No. Omnishambles.
No. Mix-tape.
No. Spork.
No. Roflcopter.
No. Sushi.
No. Hobnob.
Suppose it makes sense that he
came up with hobnob, doesn't it?
Because it's sort of the most
old-fashioned of biscuits.
It's got, like, bits of
hay in it and stuff.
It's like eating a thatched roof.
'By the end of his life, Shakespeare
had reinvented theatre,
'created memorable characters,
built a playhouse,
'invented a language
and secured a legacy.
'But the Swan of Avon still had
one last trick up his sleeve.
'Throughout this programme, we've
seen how Shakespeare's genius spans
'seven different genres of play.'
But all of these pale into
insignificance against Shakespeare's
most greatest work:
Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones is a proper
bloodthirsty, action-packed epic,
which skilfully combines all the genres
Shakespeare invented
into one coherent work.
It's got everything.
It's got history, comedy,
Have you ever held a sword before?
I was the best archer in our hamlet.
And romance.
Game of Thrones also has one of
Shakespeare's best kings in it,
Queen Joffrey.
Surely there are others out there
who still dare to challenge my reign?
Queen Joffrey, like all
Shakespeare's queens,
is played by a young boy in a dress.
And they stuck with that when
they adapted it for television.
Game of Thrones remains
the most popular
of all of Shakespeare's plays
and the only one to have been
made into a television series,
which proves it's the best.
It's almost as if at the end of his life,
Shakespeare finally worked out how
to write something really good.
'His final masterpiece accomplished,
'Shakespeare's work on
our planet was complete.
'He died on his birthday,
'which must have been
depressing for his family,
'who would have had to
'finish his cake with tears in
their little Shakespearean eyes.'
We don't know what Shakespeare's
last words were -
probably made-up ones.
Nobody wrote them down, so they
couldn't have been all that.
'I used to think Shakespeare was
stuffy and pointless and not for me,
'but exploring his world and
works for the past half-hour
'has really brought him to life,
so I'm gutted he's just died.
'He remains the best and only bard
this country has ever produced.'
Goodnight, sweet prince.
I'm loving angels instead.
Zadok the Priest by Handel
Zadok the priest
And Nathan the prophet
Anointed Solomon king.