Shakespeare Behind Bars (2005)

Shakespeare Behind Bars



Critic Consensus: Shakespeare Behind Bars is a moving testament to the power -- and universality -- of art.

Movie Info

Some 20 male inmates in a Kentucky prison form a Shakespearean acting troupe.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
Written By: Hank Rogerson, Jilann Spitzmiller
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 18, 2006
International Film Circuit


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Critic Reviews for Shakespeare Behind Bars

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (16)

This fascinating video documentary covers a nine-month rehearsal of Shakespeare's final play by inmates at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange, Kentucky.

Full Review… | August 12, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The up-close interviews with the prisoners, many of whom are in jail for murder, are the heart of the film.

Full Review… | May 19, 2006
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Rogerson and producer Jilann Spitzmiller ably convey the humanity of the inmates while also exposing them as deeply flawed individuals. The film also reconfirms the enduring relevance and power of Shakespeare and his adaptability to almost any milieu.

Full Review… | May 12, 2006
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Albeit a tad repetitive, Shakespeare Behind Bars succeeds in humanizing men we might too easily label as monsters, and provides a solid argument in favor of prisons that place rehabilitation above retribution.

Full Review… | May 11, 2006
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Few non-fiction films about the arts hit as hard or soar to such heights of poetry and humanity.

Full Review… | May 11, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Observes as the inmates use theater to massage knots of guilt and anguish in their psyches.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Shakespeare Behind Bars

Hmm...mixed feelings. First of all, I don't think the program is THAT big a deal, like people are making it out to be. Sure, some of the inmates might be profoundly moved by the play, but I hardly think they're representative of the population. (wow...I think in terms of psychology now -_-). Some of it seemed too cutsey. Like, "let's laugh at the semi-articulate black man prunce around in a female character's costume!" Errrr.... I kept imagining how the victims' families would see this movie. Although, there are some thought-provoking segments, particularly the speech given by a 7-victim sexual abuser. At my screening, the guy who ran the program was there and held a Q + A session. He was much more obnoxious in person. Isn't it ironic how self-proclaimed "bleeding heart liberals" are supposed to be "free" and whatnot but they all end up so Debbie-Downer bitter? Jeeze.

Joey Nevarez

Super Reviewer

Interesting film about the reality of prisons and its victims. The documentary inspires hope in the hearts of murderers, rapists, and theives.

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