The Lady of Shalott DVD includes the following:
- The Lady of Shalott dramatisation (14 minutes)
- Tennyson Reading The Lady of Shalott (9 minutes)
- Conversation between Ben Poole (Tennyson) and Grace Timmins (Tennyson Research Centre) (16 minutes)
- Dante Ferrara – La Donna di Shalott (4 minutes)
The teacher can decide which of the films to show first: the Lady of Shalott dramatisation (which explains the poem visually), or the reading which concentrates beautifully on the words of the poem (superbly delivered by Ben Poole). Either way has its merits.
The dramatisation is a literal interpretation of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shalott. Visually, it is based closely on The Lady of Shalott paintings by John William Waterhouse with inspiration drawn from paintings by William Holman Hunt and George Boughton.
In addition to studying the poem, pupils might enjoy spotting the connections with the paintings. There are other ways of using the dramatisation – if viewed with the volume off, pupils could make up their own story or poem as inspired by the film’s imagery. Alternatively, pupils could narrate the poem in time with the images; it could even be performed as an end of term feature with a pupil narrating the poem to a backdrop of the silent dramatisation.
Above: The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse. Courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London.
Above: ‘I am half sick of shadows’ by John William Waterhouse. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
The lady of Shalott (looking at Lancelot) by John William Waterhouse. Courtesy of the
The Tennyson Reading of the poem is set at a fictional after-dinner occasion at Christmas 1856. The music being played at the beginning is an 1850 setting of ‘The Brook’, another poem by Tennyson. Look at the audience list: many of the guests have an association with Tennyson or his work. Also, one of the guests features in another Tennyson inspired painting by Arthur Hughes entitled ‘April Love’. See if anyone spots the (not so) deliberate mistake: Tennyson is introduced as “the Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson”. In 1856 he certainly was the Poet Laureate, but he was not yet a Lord!
The interview of Ben Poole (Tennyson) and Grace Timmins (Tennyson Research Centre) in conversation reveals something of Tennyson’s background in Lincolnshire and sheds light on his Victorian super-star status (apparently even Prince Albert asked for his autograph!).
La Donna di Shalott Music was written specially for the film by Dante Ferrara, and played by him on the cittern.