Brian McFarlane

Brian McFarlane

Brian McFarlane’s latest book is Four from the Forties: Arliss, Crabtree, Knowles and Huntington, Manchester: MUP, 2018. He has had three overlapping careers, as teacher, academic, and writer. He is the author or editor of over twenty books and hundreds of articles and reviews on film and literature and related matters. He co-edited The Oxford Companion to Australian Film and was compiler, editor and chief author of The Encyclopedia of British Film. His most recent books include: Twenty British Films: A guided tour, Double-Act: The remarkable lives and careers of Googie Withers and John McCallum, and The Never-Ending Brief Encounter. He is currently serving as Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University of Technology and as Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University.

Othello (Bell Shakespeare)

ABR Arts 18 July 2016
Othello (Bell Shakespeare)
Whatever else Peter Evans's production of Othello has going for it, and it has indeed much, the speaking of Shakespeare's verse is outstanding. It is never declamatory, in the way that some famous actors of earlier decades dealt with it. The verse emerges entirely intact, but is always made to sound at the same time conversational, as if the thoughts it articulates, whether in dialogue or soliloqu ... (read more)

Youth

ABR Arts 24 December 2015
Youth
'Meditative' is not perhaps the epithet that comes to mind in relation to most films, but it is entirely apt when applied to Paolo Sorrentini's new film, Youth, which will no doubt be fallen upon avidly by the many admirers of his previous film, The Great Beauty (2013). Several minutes before the opening title, Youth begins with a young woman singing 'You've got the love I need to see me through'; ... (read more)

Brian McFarlane reviews 'Mad Dog Morgan' by Jake Wilson

January-February 2016, no. 378 21 December 2015
Brian McFarlane reviews 'Mad Dog Morgan' by Jake Wilson
The evocative Prologue to this book has a poetic precision that bodes well for its treatment of this too-long neglected film, and what follows more than answers such expectations. Jake Wilson's analysis (resuscitation might be a better word) of the 1976 Australian bushranging adventure, Mad Dog Morgan, is above all a tale of three men, and he does justice to each. The three are Morgan himself, di ... (read more)

Brian McFarlane reviews 'Eugene O'Neill' by Robert M. Dowling

May 2015, no. 371 29 April 2015
Brian McFarlane reviews 'Eugene O'Neill' by Robert M. Dowling
It seems unlikely that anyone ever emerged from the performance of an O’Neill play saying happily, ‘Laugh! I nearly died.’ Robert M. Dowling’s fine biography helps to account for this: the life behind the writing of those plays was not conducive to a hilarious outcome. To have survived the life he lived would have been remarkable enough, let alone turning out some of the century’s most s ... (read more)

Wolf Hall on Stage

ABR Arts 22 May 2014
Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall has now been dramatised, along with its sequel, Bring up the Bodies. Brian McFarlane, a regular ABR film and theatre critic, caught the new Royal Shakespeare Company production in London. If, like me, you were not a fan of Hilary Mantel’s historical doorstops, Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring up the Bodies (2012), you might have approached the Ro ... (read more)

Power play

February 2014, no. 358 19 January 2014
Power play
Anyone lucky enough to have read Arguments with England (2004), the first volume of Michael Blakemore’s memoirs, will be eager to read the second, Stage Blood, in which he traces the tumultuous history of his years at London’s National Theatre. Further, anyone as lucky as I was to see such productions of his as Long Day’s Journey into Night in 1971 will be agog to read the new book in the ho ... (read more)

Mr. Pip

November 2013, no. 356 31 October 2013
Film-wise, 2013 has been the year of adapting dangerously. Dangerously, that is, in the sense of daring to affront devoted readers of the original novels or plays, valuing enterprise over fidelity. Now, just after admirable versions of Much Ado about Nothing and What Maisie Knew have finished their runs, we have director–screenwriter Andrew Adamson’s inspired rendering of Lloyd Jones’s equal ... (read more)

What Maisie Knew

October 2013, no. 355 27 September 2013
The last twelve months have seen some notable film reworkings of classic literary texts, with Anna Karenina set in a theatre, a black Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, and a gorgeous Much Ado About Nothing enacted in monochrome contemporary California. Now we have a compelling version of Henry James’s novel What Maisie Knew (1897), which reminds one of what a good run he has had with film adaptat ... (read more)

Much Ado About Nothing

ABR Arts 24 July 2013
There have been more than 900 Shakespearean film adaptations of one kind or other, for screens large and small, dating back to scenes from Macbeth in 1898. The Stratford playwright would have become rich beyond the dreams of avarice from film rights alone; equally, though, I think he would have acknowledged that film-makers have notched up a pretty honourable record in bringing his plays to the ci ... (read more)

The Great Gatsby

June 2013, no. 352 17 May 2013
One should approach a new film with an open mind, but it’s very hard to do so when it has been preceded by the sort of hype that has accompanied The Great Gatsby. And it’s not just the hype but the other threats to the open mind which include the famous source novel (one that people know about even if they haven’t read it), the previous film versions, and the reputation of the new film’s d ... (read more)
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