The Animated Tales from Shakespeare originated as a British-Russian TV series, a project started in 1991 by S4C, the Welsh-language TV channel, in association with the Soyuzmultfilms Studios in Moscow. These “condensed animated adaptations of plays by William Shakespeare” (IMDB) – which are defined in the DVD set that now collects them as “an unlikely alliance of Welsh and Russian Filmmakers” – were conceived both with an artistic and a didactic aim (as is clear from the title which quotes Charles and Mary Lamb’s book) and mainly (but not exclusively) addressed to a global audience of children and young adults. The scripts were adapted by the distinguished British writer of children’s literature Leon Garfield, the celebrated author of two books on Shakespeare Stories, which updated the Lambs’ experiment. The project enjoyed such critical acclaim that two series were produced, the first broadcasted in 1992 and the second in 1994. As it happens, the plays chosen by the producers have come to form a new ‘Shakespeare Canon for Children’. This is confirmed by their arrangement in the DVD Box set that now collects them, a didactic tool which is very much in use in primary and secondary schools, both in Great Britain and abroad. In the DVD Box set the plays are grouped together in three separate discs following not their chronological order of production or their different artistic techniques (i.e. what materially prompted the actual choice), but according to a principle of imitation of the Folio’s division in Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. The essay deals with the intermedial and intercultural aspects of a few Animated Tales, focusing in more detail on Julius Caesar, a text often presented to young students as an introduction to ‘Ancient Rome’.
Pennacchia, M. (2013). Shakespeare for Beginners: The Animated Tales from Shakespeare and the Case Study of Julius Caesar. In Mueller A. (a cura di), Adapting Canonical Texts in Children's Literature (pp. 59-75). London - New York : Bloomsbury Academic.