Shakespear in love
First of all Tom Stoppard has also proved himself an excellent writer of film scripts. In 1998 he wrote the script for Shakespeare in Love, which won for him and his collaborator Marc Norman, the Oscar for best screenplay. According to the plot: The film is a romantic love story set in London in the summer of 1593. Young Will Shakespeare (actor Joseph Fiennes), a promising playwright, is having a creative block. He is unable to finish Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's daughter, a play long awaited by everybody. Then suddenly, a woman enters his life, the beautiful and unconventional Lady Viola De Lesseps (actress Gwyneth Paltrow) who, dressed as a man actor, proposes herself to Will for the role of Romeo.
Will, impressed by the cleverness of the "boy", who flees soon after the audition, follows in and, after meets Viola, now in splendid womanly attire. He falls in love with her at once and, inspired by his new passion, he finished his masterpiece, eventually called Romeo and Juliet. In the meaning, Will has discovered Viola's real identity, and the two young people become lovers, while Viola, still as Thomas Kent, goes on playing the role of Romeo in Will's new work. In the end, however, their story is brought to an end by the sudden and unexpected intervention of Queen Elizabeth I (actress Dame Judi Dench) who has decided to have Viola marry Lord Wessex (actor Colin Firth).
Obviously, non of these events occurred to William Shakespeare, but Stoppard manages to repropose the supposed ambivalent personality of the playwright through the double role of Viola as a girl and as a boy (a real feature of the Elizabethan theater). Will, who makes love to Viola even while she is playing Romeo, seems, in fact, to sum up all the ambiguity that literary tradition has built around Shakespeare. Stoppard's ability, on the other hand, is particularly evident in the witty, intelligent dialogues and in the perfect reconstruction of the Elizabethan environment and of the Rose playhouse frequented by such writers of the time as Marlowe and Webster or Burbage, the future builder of the Globe Theater.
Moreover, apart from some intellectual anachronisms which link the 16th century to the present one (such as, for instance, the somewhat Freudian practitioner with his couch where Will lies and reveals his writing block), Stoppard's talent is such as to make fiction and reality flow smoothly into each other.