[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/img_0773.JPG]]

The ShakespeareInFiction RomanticComedy that won Best Picture of 1998 at the UsefulNotes/{{Academy Award}}s, surprising all those who were backing ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan''. To some, it's one of the greatest {{award snub}}s in the history of the Oscars. To others, it's a blessed relief from the Academy's usual insistence that TrueArtIsAngsty, and a very intelligent and fun romp through a not-quite-accurate Elizabethan England. Creator/TomStoppard's script is witty and wise, and all of the cast (led by Creator/GwynethPaltrow, Creator/JosephFiennes, Creator/GeoffreyRush, Creator/ColinFirth, Creator/BenAffleck, and Creator/JudiDench) are at the top of their game.

Meet Creator/WilliamShakespeare (Fiennes), aspiring playwright who can't find the inspiration to write another ScrewballComedy, and works for a theater that needs money, badly. In the bed of his mistress, Rosaline, he tries to find inspiration for a comedy titled ''[[RomeoAndJuliet Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter]]''. Meanwhile, Viola De Lesseps (Paltrow), a noblewoman engaged to marry an entrepreneur in the Americas, dreams of the stage but is frustrated, because women are banned from the boards. However, she goes out to audition anyway, dressed up as a boy, and is astounded when she gets the part... of [[WholesomeCrossdresser Romeo]]. Tension soon erupts between her and the suddenly single Will, and [[HilarityEnsues Hilarity, Angst, Secrecy, and a Little Sex Ensue.]] Much like a Shakespeare comedy, you might say.

----
!!This film provides examples of:

* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: Marlowe, to poor Shakespeare. It's a one-sided rivalry with poor Will envious of all the fame Marlowe has, while Marlowe easily passes along story ideas without a care. A bit of a HistoricalInJoke because at the time Marlowe ''was'' the better regarded writer: Shakespeare's reputation really didn't take off until later.
* AnachronismStew: The film does not hesitate to throw historical accuracy out the window [[RuleOfFunny if they can sneak in a joke]] about the modern studio system. Standouts are Shakespeare's visit to Dr. Monk (poking fun at modern psychiatrists), and the audition scene (Elizabethan companies of players didn't do this, although they do make the excuse that the normal troupe is still coming back from a country tour and is running late).
* AristocratsAreEvil: {{Played with}}; by the standards of the time, [[DeliberateValuesDissonance the Earl of Wessex was in the right to act as he did, considering Lady Viola, who was betrothed to him, lost her maidenhead to a playwright.]]
* ArtisticLicenseHistory:
** The real Shakespeare didn't create the plot of ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', let alone make it up as he went along -- as is the case with pretty much ''all'' of his work, he was adapting preexisting poems, stories or historical records for the stage; in this case he used ''The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet.''
** Royalty at this point in time would never have stepped foot in a public theatre. Theatrical companies were often invited to play in the Elizabethan court though. The Queen does not go to the theatre, the theatre goes to the Queen.
** This film perpetuates the revisionist myth (dating to 17th-century censored editions) that Shakespeare's love sonnets were written to a woman, rather than a man.
* [[ArtisticLicenseFilmProduction Artistic License - Theatrical Production]]: In the PlayWithinAPlay, there are a few instances of staging that work great on film, but would be really poor choices on stage -- let alone in an open-air theater with no amplification. A glaring example: during Mercutio's death scene, he sinks against a pillar, then Romeo upstages him, back to the audience, and Mercutio growls his FamousLastWords in a near-whisper, which shouldn't have been heard by anyone past the first row of groundlings.
* BecomingTheMask: Hugh Fennyman is originally only interested in the play's success to recoup some of the money Henslowe owes him. Given a small part as an apothecary he becomes obsessed with it and forgets why he allowed the play to go on.
* BiographyAClef: While not the first film or first fictional take on Shakespeare to feature this trope, it was certainly a TropeCodifier in the mainstream. It more or less presents hypothetical analogues to some of the fictional characters and figures that would eventually appear in the Bard's plays, namely Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet and Theatre/TwelfthNight.
* BittersweetEnding:
** [[spoiler: Shakespeare and Viola don't end up together, and Viola is destined for a loveless marriage, but they console each other with the knowledge that they will be ageless in each other's memories. The film ends with Shakespeare writing ''Theatre/TwelfthNight'', with Viola as his muse, as a way to imagine an unlikely happy ending for the two of them.]]
** In better news, [[spoiler:Shakespeare becomes in-story the next great dramatist, whose literary works in RealLife will shape the English language and have remained... will remain... timeless.]]
* CatchPhrase: "I don't know... it's a mystery."
* CoitusUninterruptus: Probably more realistic than most modern examples, as back in the day notions of privacy (especially among the lower classes, which certainly included actors) were... different (read: almost non-existent). Regardless, it doesn't last.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: In the PlayWithinAPlay, the Capulet family actors wear orange, red, and (for Juliet) pale gold, while the Montague members of the cast wears deep blues. This is very similar to Franco Zefirelli's definitive film of ''Romeo and Juliet'' -- with the difference that the Prince's family, instead of wearing brown, wears [[PurpleIsPowerful purple.]]
* CreatorBreakdown: In-universe. Will turns the play from a comedy into an outright tragedy once he realizes that he and Viola can never be together.
* CreatorRecovery: In-universe, followed on from the above. Will is then inspired to write ''Twelfth Night'' as a way of giving Viola a happy ending in fiction if she can't have one in real life.
* DeusExMachina: Queen Elizabeth I. Of course, there wasn't as much of a stigma attached to the trope back in Shakespeare's day -- many of his plays had a duke or prince showing up in the last act to pass judgment and ensure a happy ending -- so it could be justified by the GrandfatherClause. Her appearance is foreshadowed by the wager in her court earlier on at least.
* DidNotGetTheGirl: History - and the film itself - tells us that Shakespeare married a woman named Anne Hathaway ([[Creator/AnneHathaway not that one]],[[note]]Though that's who she's named after[[/note]]) so viewers [[DoomedByCanon shouldn't get their hopes up]].
* DriverOfABlackCab: Rower of A Thames Ferry Boat.
-->"I had Christopher Marlowe in my boat once."
* EekAMouse: Webster uses his pet rat to make 'Thomas Kent' give 'himself' away as Viola when Mister Tilney gets confused about which "woman" is supposed to actually be a woman. A more justified example than most, because he ''drops it onto her head!'' - and the reveal is not her screaming, but rather pulling the wig off and exposing her long hair.
* EnemyMine: Shakespeare and Richard Burbage put aside their rivalry when Burbage offers Shakespeare's players the use of the Curtain theater, saying that as theater people they should stand up to the Master of the Revels.
* [[FollowThatCar Follow That Boat!]]: This is how Will finds out where Viola lives, after she runs out of her audition.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Will asks if Sam's voice has broken yet in a throwaway line early on. [[spoiler: His voice breaks on the day of the performance, leaving them without a Juliet]].
* GondorCallsForAid:
-->"The Master of the Revels despises us all for vagrants and peddlers of bombast. But my father, James Burbage, had the first license to make a company of players from Her Majesty; and he drew from poets the literature of the age. We must show them that we are men of parts. Will Shakespeare has a play. I have a theater. [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming The Curtain is yours.]]"
* GoodAdulteryBadAdultery: Shakespeare is married and Viola is engaged to Lord Wessex, but Lord Wessex is only marrying her for her money and Anne Hathaway is in Stratford-upon-Avon, and not particularly well inclined towards Will at present.
* HeReallyCanAct: Two in-universe examples.
** Hugh Fennyman is given a small role as the Apothecary and is seen nervously going over his lines. When the time comes, he delivers a very nice performance.
** Wabash is a stutterer who's hired against Will's [[{{Pun}} will]]. He overcomes his stutter to deliver a lovely performance as the Prince. Will congratulates him afterwards.
* HeelFaceTurn: Fennyman starts the film as a greedy moneylender, but becomes enamored by the theater and is overjoyed to be given a small part as the Apothecary.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Elizabeth I]], Creator/ChristopherMarlowe, John Webster, Shakespeare himself, not to mention the entire cast of ''Romeo and Juliet.''
* HistoricalInJoke: Tied with GeniusBonus - for example, Stoppard spoofs the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question Shakespeare Authorship Question]] by having one character just plain ''ask'' him, "Are you the author of the plays of William Shakespeare?" To which Will answers yes.
* HistoricalPersonPunchline: The boy who wants to write violent plays is actually ''John Webster'' (for clarification, he'll eventually write ''The Duchess of Malfi'' and ''The White Devil,'' both considered quite dark and macabre works with plenty of gruesome deaths).
* ImpoverishedPatrician: The Wessex family, and Lord Wessex wishes to marry Viola to secure some money.
* InstantExpert: Thomas Kent aka Viola de Lesseps, despite having never acted before, is utterly captivating as Romeo [[spoiler: and, later, as Juliet]] despite a few flubs in the dancing rehearsals. Helped out by Viola's passion for the material (and the playwright) and her very good memory.
* InterruptedIntimacy: A RunningJoke.
* KingIncognito: [[spoiler: Queen Elizabeth and her attendants go to the performance of ''Romeo and Juliet'' in disguise.]]
* LampshadedDoubleEntendre: In the grand Shakespearian tradition, penis jokes:
-->'''Will''': "It's as if my quill is broken, as if the organ of my imagination has dried up, as if the proud tower of genius is collapsed. Nothing comes. It's like trying to pick a lock with a wet herring."\\
'''Dr. Moth''': Tell me, are you lately...''humbled''...in the act of love? How long has it been?\\
'''Will''': A goodly length, in times past, but lately...
* LastKiss: [[spoiler:Shakespeare and Viola]] share one before she leaves with her new husband [[spoiler:(''not'' Shakespeare)]] to a colony in the new world.
* LoanShark: The movie opens with Fennyman the moneylender torturing the owner of the Rose for his unpaid debts. He ends up being enamored of the theater.
* MoodWhiplash: A few examples:
** One minute, the troupe is carousing in a local bar/brothel, the next, Henslowe mentions Shakespeare's wife in passing, and Viola takes off. Then one of the actors comes in with the news that Marlowe has been killed, and Shakespeare thinks he's responsible because he gave Wessex Marlowe's name as a pseudonym, and told him that he's been visiting his future wife.
** The scene where Shakespeare learns the truth behind [[spoiler:Marlowe's death. He holds Wessex at knifepoint and loudly proclaims him to be Marlowe's murderer... only to be informed that Marlowe actually died in a bar fight over his tab, after getting [[EyeScream his own knife through the eye]].]]
** After Shakespeare explains how ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'' takes a turn for the worse:
-->'''Henslowe:''' *deadpan* Well, that'll have 'em rolling in the aisles.
** Another example comes after [[spoiler:Tilney closes the Rose because they were unknowingly letting Viola act.]] Fennyman comes in, still wrapped up in trying to memorize his lines, and asks "Everything all right?"
* MoralGuardians: There are two.
** Part of Tilney's job as Master of the Revels is to censor plays intended for public performance so that they do not offend either the Queen or the people.
** Before the play opens at The Curtain there's a Puritan protesting the performance.
* TheMuse: Almost the entire point of the movie. Will at first thinks Rosaline will be his muse but when he catches her in bed with Burbage, he turns her into the RomanticFalseLead in the play. Viola then becomes his muse properly.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Shakespeare, when he thinks he got Marlowe killed by Wessex.
* NobilityMarriesMoney: Viola, a daughter of a wealthy merchant, marries Lord Wessex, who needs money to fund his colony in the new world.
* OhCrap: Romeo and Juliet, debut performance. At stake, Shakespeare's entire reputation. [[spoiler: Will, playing Romeo, is in the depths of despair; Sam, the boy supposed to play Juliet, has just hit puberty with a horrifically broken voice; and as the curtain rises, the actor reciting the Prologue can't get out a single word in his stuttering panic.]] The fifteen or twenty seconds that follows is one drawn-out OhCrap moment before he starts off what has to be the most touching version of RomeoAndJuliet ever to be performed onscreen.
* OscarBait: An English period piece, featuring (however briefly) a royal. Works every time.
* PimpedOutDress: It's the Elizabethan period. ''Duh.'' It's actually in the script that Viola's dress be literally stunning.
* PuddleCoveringChivalry: The queen stops in front of a puddle and looks for help. All the guys hesitate and then reach to throw their jackets down for her. But she loses patience and just steps in the mud.
* RecursiveCrossdressing: Features a woman, dressing as a male actor, who plays Juliet... resulting in this classic line:
--> ''"That woman... is a '''woman'''!"''
* RichSuitorPoorSuitor: Struggling playwright Shakespeare vs. Lord Wessex (who isn't actually ''rich'' - that's why he's marrying Viola in the first place - but has the noble name to back himself up). [[spoiler:Wessex inevitably 'wins.']]
%%* RomanticComedy
* ARoundOfDrinksForTheHouse: The producer orders one before exclaiming "Oh, [[AnachronismStew happy hour!]]" (with the inflection one would use for "oh, happy day!").
* RunningGag: Henslowe saying "It's a mystery" when he does not know how a problem will be solved. [[spoiler:And, in the good tradition of theater, it does, every time.]]
* {{Sexposition}}: An early scene with the theater manager has him discussing the staging of the play while having energetic sex with a prostitute. As with many instances of Sexposition, this one overlaps with CoitusUninterruptus.
* ShakespeareInFiction: Here, he's young, charismatic, melancholy, mostly lovelorn, and looking for a muse.
* ShapedLikeItself: "That woman is a woman!"
* ShoutOutToShakespeare: Obviously.
%%* ShownTheirWork
* SlowClap: The first performance is met with this... mostly because the audience is weeping.
* SpannerInTheWorks: Two, in fact; [[spoiler: Elizabeth I snidely informs Lord Wessex that Viola has [[VirginVision "been plucked since I saw her last, and not by you"]] and John Webster spies Shakespeare and Viola kissing and later squeals on them to Mr. Tilney.]]
* StutterStop: Wabash never stutters once after he successfully delivers the prologue.
* StutteringIntoEloquence: Wabash, introducing the play.
* SweetPollyOliver: Lady Viola de Lesseps, a wealthy lady, disguises herself as Thomas Kent, a player from the countryside.
* TakeThat: Fennyman proposes to Henslowe that the actors get paid for the play from the nonexistent profits the company will receive, a swipe at Hollywood's rather [[UsefulNotes/HollywoodAccounting loose accounting procedures]].
* VirginVision: The Queen has it, unfortunately. As she tells Lord Wessex:
--> "She's been plucked since I saw her last, and not by you."
* WholesomeCrossdresser: Viola, posing as Thomas Kent, and Sam, the actor who is cast as Juliet.
** Only slightly less wholesome is Will himself, when he dresses himself as "Wilhemina," Viola's nursemaid who always holds "her" veil over "her" face (to disguise the beard!). Thus attired, Will accompanies Viola to the Queen's celebration.
** Of course, Her Majesty is not fooled in the slightest.
---> Master Shakespeare, next time you come to Whitecastle, come as yourself and we shall talk of this some more.
* TheWickedStage: The film shows our actor friends a-whoring and a-wasting in houses of ill repute.
* WritersBlockMontage: Played with. Our first shot of Will sees him busily and confidently scribbling away, and we cut to his paper to see that he's just trying out different signatures over and over (a HistoricalInJoke on the famously inconsistent signatures we have records of). However, he ''does'' crumple up a sheet of parchment and toss it away moodily - only for it to land next to a very {{Hamlet}}-esque skull.
* YoungFutureFamousPeople: Stoppard imagines early-career-Shakespeare as a mercurial writer, prone to mood swings, and much more [[TechnicianVsPerformer a Performer than a Technician.]] Magpie-like, he snatches up good names and turns of phrase wherever he finds them - ''that'' much is accurate - and he has a painful yearning for a great love, as well as to write great works.
----