Peter Rainer's commentary about Shakespeare as a screenwriter was absurd ("Shakespeare, the Exultant Screenwriter," May 2). Shakespeare was first and foremost a poet, and it was the things he said and the way in which he said them that have made his plays immortal.
His battle scenes are indeed panoramic, but the point is not the battle but the poetic and philosophical heights that are reached as a result of them. In an accompanying article, Kenneth Branagh tells Peter Barnes that he was told about his screenplay for the new film of "Much Ado About Nothing": "Nice story, too much dialogue."
No, if Shakespeare were alive today, he would not be writing screenplays. The powers that be would hire rewriters to get rid of all the silly dialogue and get down to the action stuff. Will himself would be writing his masterpieces for dark, damp 99-seat Waiver theaters, and if he was lucky he'd get a little review in Theater Beat on Friday.
Shakespeare can be transferred to film, as has been repeatedly proven, and it's wonderful that we have those great performances preserved, but I will always believe that his plays can be spectacular in a theater. Branagh believes that, as did Olivier before him. They always returned to the stage.