The Cinema of Kenneth Branagh: Adaptations, Retellings and Reevaluations

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Sabine Planka and Feryal Cubukcu
contact email: 

The Cinema of Kenneth Branagh

Adaptations, Retellings and Reevaluations

By Sabine Planka & Feryal Cubukcu


Since Kenneth Branagh impressed audiences in 1989 with his first film, “Henry V”, movie critics, film scholars, Shakespeare scholars, and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike have noticed two qualities about the young director: he holds back very little, and he borrows from other films quite a bit. Certain portions of his films have been defined appropriately as “lavish”, “over the top”, “energetic”, and “sheer bravura”. His numerous engagements with the mainstream would offer rich and varied ground to explore, and would contribute to a deeper understanding of how a star persona functions; but failure to recognise even the least significance of exploring his recent popular work suggests a persistence in obeying traditional cultural hierarchies and marginalising the mainstream as a site of academic focus.

Branagh does not hesitate to make use of the camera angles, textual imagery, ambiguity, pastiche and parody in his movies and adaptations. If all his movies are taken into account, it would seem that despite the fact that film is so often touted as a visual medium, perhaps its’ most powerful ability of affecting and influencing its viewers lies not only in the images it presents, but also in the personalities of life-like characters.

While lots of research has been done on Branagh’s Shakespeare-adaptations our volume wants to consider the other movies Branagh has directed, too. It is obvious that not only Shakespeare and other authors have had influence on him but also other directors as can be seen, for example, in his film “Dead Again” (1991) that is clearly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock. Additionally Branagh’s work, therefore, contains not only Shakespeare adaptations but also adaptations of other literary works from different genres like “Thor” (2011), “Cinderella” (2015) and the upcoming adaptation of the novel for children “Artemis Fowl” (2019). The newly-announced is a second Agatha Christie-adaptation “Death on the Nile” for 2020 – and which has indirectly be announced by the cliffhanger at the end of his first Christie-adaptation “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) – which expresses Branagh’s extraordinary talent to handle every genre. It goes without saying that Branagh adapted an opera, too: in 2006 he transferred Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” into a World War I-scenario.

Our volume, therefore, intends to focus on Kenneth Branagh primarily as a director. We are seeking for previously unpublished essays that consider the following topics (but are not limited to) from multidisciplinary perspectives to expand the view on Branagh’s oeuvre that can be divided into

(a) Adaptations of Shakespeare (Henry V (1989)/Much Ado About Nothing (1993)/A Midwinter’s Tale (1995)/Hamlet (1996)/Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000)/As You Like It (2006)/Macbeth (2013)) and

(b) Adaptations of other literary works and the connection to different genres (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994; Gothic Novel)/The Magic Flute (2006; Opera)/Thor (2011; Comics)/Cinderella (2015; Fairy Tale)/Artemis Fowl (announced 2019; Children’s Literature)/Murder on the Orient Express (2017; Crime Novel/Agatha Christie)/Death on the Nile (announced for 2020; Crime Novel/Agatha Christie)).

Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to the following:

Ÿ  influences of Branagh’s education at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) on his movies

Ÿ  influences of and connections to other directors

Ÿ  the literary basis of his movies

Ÿ  techniques of narration

Ÿ  colonial/postcolonial readings

Ÿ  ‘spatial turn’/architectural concepts in Branagh’s movies

Ÿ  class consciousness

Ÿ  social life and the role of the individual

Ÿ  gender representations/representations and visualizations of femininity and masculinity

Ÿ  visual effects/style

Ÿ  visualization of garden/landscape/nature and heritage

Ÿ  set design/costume design and (collaboration with) set designers/costume designers

Ÿ  use of (classical/modern) music

Ÿ  …


The timetable for the volume is as follows:

-           The deadline for abstracts: May 31, 2019

-           Feedback: Mid of July 2019 at the latest

-           Submission for articles (completed): October 31, 2019

-           Double peer review process and feedback of final acceptance due to: November 30, 2019

-           Articles sent back to editors: December 31, 2019

The publication is planned during spring/summer 2020.

If you are interested in proposing a chapter, please send an email with (1) an abstract of 500 words and (2) a short CV (maximum of 200 words, plus 3 titles of relevant publications) to both Dr. Feryal Cubukcu (Dokuz Eylul University) ( and Dr. Sabine Planka (University of Siegen) (

Your abstract should outline your hypothesis and briefly sketch the theoretical framework(s) within which your chapter will be situated.  All submissions will be acknowledged. If you do not receive a confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, you may assume that your email was lost in the depths of cyberspace. In that case, please re-submit. Please note that we will not include previously published essays in the collection.