Facets Cinémathèque

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April 15–21, 2016

Chicago Premiere


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Film still: Bill


If you prefer Carry On Henry to Wolf Hall, this is the Tudorsploitation titterthon for you"
  —Empire Magazine

Ever wondered what happened to William Shakespeare before he rose to fame as England's most proficient playwright? The Bard's rise to success has always been something of a mystery to many scholars and historians... until now.

Taking inspiration from the Monty Python boys, six members of the BBC's Horrible Histories crew share their humorous take on what really happened during Shakespeare's lost years. Midlands lutist Bill Shakespeare is distraught when his fellow Mortal Coil players kick him out of the band for being too avant-garde. But Bill has big plans: he has written a fantastic play, and dreams of having it performed in London.

Meanwhile, relations between England and Spain are at all all-time low. The Catholic Spanish king, Philip II, imprisons an English spy and one of Queen Elizabeth's favorites, Sir Richard Hawkins, leaving the monarch with no alternative but to invite her Papist counterpart to England to discuss terms for his release. King Philip accepts, but has more than a simple diplomatic mission in mind. Bill, meanwhile, sets out for London to make his name, with his wife, Anne, and children not far behind. Disillusioned and at a loss as to how to find his way in the bustling Tudor city, a chance meeting in a pub with a fellow writer and part-time thespian, Christopher Marlowe, seems to provide the young Shakespeare with just the guidance he needs.

This is a tale of murderous kings, spies, lost loves, and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth. Can one man prove the quill is mightier than the sword in this version of the Bard and the Beautiful?

Directed by Richard Bracewell, 2015, UK, 94 mins.


  • Fri., Apr. 15 at 6:30 & 8:30 pm
  • Sat.-Sun., Apr. 16-17 at 5:45 & 7:45 pm Mon.–Thurs., Apr. 18–21 at 6:30 & 8:30 pm
Buy tickets


$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation