Shakespeare portrait sent to edge of space to celebrate 400 years since 'First Folio'
William Shakespeare's portrait is seen on the edge of space in a still from the short film "Lovers and Madmen." (inVerse Films)
Editor's note: Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.
(CNN) — William Shakespeare’s influence over the world remains unwavering more than four centuries after the renowned dramatist began his career.
To mark the continued resonance of the famed playwright’s words 400 years after the publication of his “First Folio” on November 8, 1623, British filmmaker Jack Jewers has sent a portrait of Shakespeare along with a speech from one of his best-known works to the edge of space.
Around 1,000 copies of the folio, originally published as “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies,” were printed seven years after his death. The volume of more than 900 pages included a collection of 36 plays. Without it, 18 plays, including “Macbeth,” would have been lost, according to Reuters.
Attached to a weather balloon, with a camera and GPS tracker, the portrait, accompanied by a speech from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” was taken to Earth’s upper atmosphere, according to a press release from inVerse Films. A team from aerospace company Sent Into Space helped with the space flight.
The scene was filmed for the short film “Lovers and Madmen,” in which a young woman enters an art contest by attempting to send a portrait of Shakespeare into the air.
Short film "Our Revels Now Are Ended" draws on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" to explore the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, including themes of loneliness and isolation. (inVerse Films)
It is narrated by English actor Tom Baker, who played the fourth Doctor in “Doctor Who.” He performs Shakespeare’s “More strange than true” speech from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to accompany visuals of the Earth’s horizon leading into outer space, according to the release.
The film is a part of a series of six shorts from filmmaker Jack Jewers, who has reimagined six of Shakespeare’s most popular speeches and poems for the 21st century to celebrate this monumental anniversary.
“I had this image in my head: a portrait of Shakespeare – the universal playwright, whose work I truly believe speaks to everyone – backgrounded by space, with earth’s curvature in the background. What more fitting way to celebrate the universality of our human experience, and how it has been captured for 400 years by these wonderful words, than that?” said Jewers in the release.
As well as space travel, the films explore the relevance of Shakespeare’s words to us in 2023, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine, immigration and the refugee crisis in Europe, according to inVerse Films.
“Our Revels Now Are Ended,” which takes from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” looks at the loneliness and social isolation during the pandemic, and the feelings of liberation and reuniting with loved ones after lockdowns ended.
“Everything that has been happening to us in the past few years of upheaval – mass disease, concerns about immigration, protest, conflict in Europe, a growing desire to challenge authority and speak truth to power – was also happening in 1623 when the First Folio was published,” said Jewers.
“The parallels are uncanny and Shakespeare’s words are fresher now than ever before in their ability to speak powerfully to our own contemporary lives,” he added.
The films will be available online on Wednesday following a premiere screening in London.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.Report a Typo
Top StoriesMore Stories