Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

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knives
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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#151 Post by knives » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:47 pm

Why shouldn't the lines be read like that?

John Shade
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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#152 Post by John Shade » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:11 pm

This is the second Shakespeare thread where I've been stunned by the general (pun intended) dismissal of Othello--not just adaptations, but the play itself. Maybe I'm a traditionalist but I tend to think that Othello is very close to Hamlet as Shakespeare's greatest tragedy--making it for me (full Bardolatry) one of the greatest works of art in the world...

I'm not sure exactly where to begin with a defense of the play...but...Soft you, a word or two before you dismiss it fully...Anyway, is there a more purely poetic character in Shakespeare than Othello? Is there a greater villain in world literature than Iago? A more pitiful character than Desdemona? Some of you must think there are. Iago is like Hamlet with a dash of Satan, and he makes Milton's own Satan seem puny, while Othello is a more larger than life figure than Falstaff. End of defense part two.

Off to rewatch As You Like It and then a few versions of Macbeth for later in the week.

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domino harvey
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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#153 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:11 pm

After rereading A Midsummer Night's Dream, I wasn't wild about any of my adaptation options, so I went with a film not eligible, Get Over It (Tommy O'Haver 2001)-- mainly because I'd somehow never heard of it before despite being a high schooler myself when it came out! The director clearly models his approach in the film on Savage Steve Holland, and like the output he's imitating, there's a lot of comic potential and good comic instincts in the filming that nevertheless fails to overcome the basic unfunniness of the material. Here we have a high school putting on a "rock update" of AMND, directed by Martin Short as... well, his character's actually a great Exhibit A of everything that works and doesn't work here, because he's all over the place. Sometimes Short is an egotistical 40-something guy pretending to be a teenager, but this is never consistent-- sometimes he dresses like a skater boi circa 2000 (and very accurately, puka shell necklace and all), but then elsewhere he dresses like a normal middle aged man. Okay. Sometimes he's absurdly supportive of his cast, then he'll vacillate to disdaining them. And so on, over and over. So, sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's not-- and folks, obviously Short is the best thing here, especially when the majority of the screentime is devoted to a love rectangle wherein Kirsten Dunst's impossibly perfect Helena portrayer moons over the oblivious Ben Foster as he tries to win back his ex who's left him for a quasi-British boy band member (a painful Shane West), all of whom are in the play. I did like the ending, wherein Foster's Lynsander rewrites the play on the fly so he ends up making out with Dunst, if only because this is probably one of the few acceptable reasons for radically revising Shakespeare. Oh, also, all 4'11 of Sisqo is in the cast for some reason, and Vitamin C (truly a "Only 90s Kids Will Remember" appearance) and Coolio also make appearances, to really bring home the peak 2001-ness of this all. So, while I can't say I got much appreciation for the play from this movie (and it seems like a REAL missed opportunity to cast none of the copious supporting characters as Bottom), I did also think one of the intentionally awful songs performed by the high schoolers on stage was probably onto something when the lyrics defended changing the story because "Shakespeare is dead and we're alive now" (or something like that), as this really does seem to be the approach of most of these revisionist takes, only this one's aware enough about it to lampshade it a bit!

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#154 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:21 am

Viola: In a way this is a more difficult film to unpack than Godard’s King Lear as Matías Piñeiro takes abstract routes in how he plays with Twelfth Night but remains within the confines of a story specific enough to demand analysis to the themes of the text. A metaphysical deconstruction of the play using narrative bleeding, as real life and art cross lines and characters engage in role playing with identity like a Rivette film with the philosophical density of dissecting values and perspective as Eustache by way of Rohmer in dialogue while characters breathe in feminine authenticity not far from Rozier but in smaller doses. We get superb cast of women (including Elisa Carricajo and Laura Paredes from La flor!) acting in a version of the play and then discussing their own takes on romance in real life.

Through exploring subjective value in the construction of meaning in interpersonal dynamics, the women debate the roots of their lenses as selfish, solipsistic, or authentic respectfully and with a light touch at first but venturing into serious moods seamlessly through smooth transitions like Rohmer and Eastache (and Rozier) do so well. Toying with the element of an identity switch that has consequences for the emotions of another in the play turns into an active experiment of testing various perspectives in the antecedents and signifiers of truth in romantic reciprocity outside the play. There’s a lot of playing around with variables that strangely works despite its complexity disrupted from constants or provisions for a clear framework. The narrative puzzle admittedly feels vague with only 60 minutes to sample its offerings, and I could’ve stood much more of this if only to grasp at additional information, but an inspiring hour it is, whether I fully comprehended all of the levels of operation or not. The way each of the women influence the other to act in accordance with their own perspectives on authenticity debunks the authenticity of the subject acting in accordance with her own will, and thus ironically produces a quest for the inauthentic through this solipsism disguised as genuine intentions. I love the long winded scene in the car where our subject of influence declares “how many times are you going to say ‘truly,’” unmasking the falsehoods of the process and hinting at a deeper understanding of the complicated subconscious barriers at work in socialization. The subsequent declaration that the literal advice is to do nothing, while the semantics of the delivery evokes another depth that ‘act of telling’ is also worth nothing, accentuates the stripped down meaninglessness inherent in Shakespeare’s own examination of these social systems and attempts at ‘knowing’ another that we place so much value and investment in accepting as truths.

Though it’s probably unfair in its simplicity to say, I came away feeling that what Godard achieves in existentialism through playing with technique, Piñeiro aims for in attention to a hazy area on the spectrum between social psychology and sociological observation through playing with narrative, and - like Godard - without grounding consistency in his tinkering, a confusing and unsettling choice that intentionally or not only aids the insecurity of the thematic reveal. In the end the idea of authenticity is accepted in its subjectivity, but disillusionment clearly remains blended with our subject and the idea of a ‘happy ending’ itself is exposed as a contrived mirage by forcing the heroine and the audience to hold opposing truths (the act of accepting subjective truth in one’s solipsistic lens as the path to happiness and the unnerving barely suppressed knowledge that objective truth is inaccessible due to the impossibility of true social harmony) hand in hand.

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ando
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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#155 Post by ando » Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:35 am

knives wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:47 pm
Why shouldn't the lines be read like that?
Because when an actor doesn't relish the language the audience misses most of the fun! Shakespeare (as is obvious) was a poet, actor and playwright; his entire aim in writing for players on the stage was to communicate a feeling. The emotional impression was the whole point! When any actor is completely invested in the language - when it's actually in their bodies - an audience can't help but become involved. It's not a cerebral affair, contrary to widespread misconceptions. That's not to say that Shakespeare hasn't created cerebral characters; he has - but they're seldom embraced by an audience; their manipulation of other characters is where the intrigue lies in those instances. In any case, if actors are only invested in the language from the neck up in terms of delivery Shakespeare is reduced to an extravagant melodrama; the narrative drones on with nothing at stake for the actor - and nothing at stake for the audience.

In order to get to the point of risk you must delve into the language. Shakespeare does it for you. First of all, you have to pay attention to the iambic pentameter, but also line breaks, enjambments, alliteration, diphthongs... his grammar is actually the greatest tool for an actor. But when actor (or director) blithely spits out the language like some extended laundry list it's unbearable for attentive listeners not used to hearing his poetry and (especially) for those who know the plays. In his day people went to hear a play; it's the actual expression that was used. To throw that component out of a production of his work or to minimize or flatten it to the point of irrelevance is a waste of time, imo. Certainly a waste of mine. There are a million ways to be clever. Why fuck with Shakespeare? You just look like a sucker - he's always gonna be more clever than you.

There's (to me) a world of difference in a cast of actors in motorcycle gang clothes reeling off flat footed takes on Cymbeline and a group of lifers, for instance, really invested in the words they're delivering. And it's not even a question of training but more of commitment. It's usually far more intriguing than cleverness.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#156 Post by ando » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:53 am

John Shade wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:11 pm
This is the second Shakespeare thread where I've been stunned by the general (pun intended) dismissal of Othello--not just adaptations, but the play itself. Maybe I'm a traditionalist but I tend to think that Othello is very close to Hamlet as Shakespeare's greatest tragedy--making it for me (full Bardolatry) one of the greatest works of art in the world...

I'm not sure exactly where to begin with a defense of the play...but...Soft you, a word or two before you dismiss it fully...Anyway, is there a more purely poetic character in Shakespeare than Othello? Is there a greater villain in world literature than Iago? A more pitiful character than Desdemona? Some of you must think there are. Iago is like Hamlet with a dash of Satan, and he makes Milton's own Satan seem puny, while Othello is a more larger than life figure than Falstaff. End of defense part two.
Haha. Well, I've always felt that the play was really about Iago's perspective of Othello; certainly, Shakespeare exploited the average Elizabethan's idea of a Moor, which wasn't deep or accurate (like most stereotypes). Frankly, we don't know any more about Othello than we do about Iago, Cassio or anyone else; but we know less about him than any other major character, which made it easier for Shakespeare to invest him with all kinds of character traits and (Elizabethan's) cultural assumptions. So what I see is a more a series of projections of who Othello is supposed to be and what his presence means in that particular community than a character with any specific heritage. That also leaves Shakespeare free to play with the specter of jealousy, not only in Othello, but in Iago and the whole community. I think it was that conversation with Orson Welles and his fellow actors around a dinner table in Filming Othello that underlined the point about a community that is poisoned with jealousy. I felt it was a good way to put it because the atmosphere feels tainted; initiated by the viper like Iago and winding it's way through everyone. Everyone, inevitably, is a victim of it. So, for me, it's not a particularly pleasant play to watch or one that I want to revisit often.

Though people criticize Laurence Olivier's 1966 blackface turn as Othello, I believe that production is closer to what Shakespeare had in mind in terms of spectacle, absurdity and ultimate tragedy. It shouldn't just be a shame but really ludicrous. It can't be any ordinary misfortune with the language employed, it has to be show stoppingly stupid. I like 'O', Welles film and the Branagh/Fishburne version but neither reaches the lyric heights that Olivier goes for - that pitch of hysteria and pathos. It's also why Verdi's opera treatment of the play is superior to the original to my mind. Ripe material for that kind of ridiculously heightened emotion.

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knives
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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#157 Post by knives » Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:33 am

ando wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:35 am
knives wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:47 pm
Why shouldn't the lines be read like that?
Because when an actor doesn't relish the language the audience misses most of the fun! Shakespeare (as is obvious) was a poet, actor and playwright; his entire aim in writing for players on the stage was to communicate a feeling. The emotional impression was the whole point! When any actor is completely invested in the language - when it's actually in their bodies - an audience can't help but become involved. It's not a cerebral affair, contrary to widespread misconceptions. That's not to say that Shakespeare hasn't created cerebral characters; he has - but they're seldom embraced by an audience; their manipulation of other characters is where the intrigue lies in those instances. In any case, if actors are only invested in the language from the neck up in terms of delivery Shakespeare is reduced to an extravagant melodrama; the narrative drones on with nothing at stake for the actor - and nothing at stake for the audience.

In order to get to the point of risk you must delve into the language. Shakespeare does it for you. First of all, you have to pay attention to the iambic pentameter, but also line breaks, enjambments, alliteration, diphthongs... his grammar is actually the greatest tool for an actor. But when actor (or director) blithely spits out the language like some extended laundry list it's unbearable for attentive listeners not used to hearing his poetry and (especially) for those who know the plays. In his day people went to hear a play; it's the actual expression that was used. To throw that component out of a production of his work or to minimize or flatten it to the point of irrelevance is a waste of time, imo. Certainly a waste of mine. There are a million ways to be clever. Why fuck with Shakespeare? You just look like a sucker - he's always gonna be more clever than you.

There's (to me) a world of difference in a cast of actors in motorcycle gang clothes reeling off flat footed takes on Cymbeline and a group of lifers, for instance, really invested in the words they're delivering. And it's not even a question of training but more of commitment. It's usually far more intriguing than cleverness.
To be curt, they don't speak the lines in the way you are saying.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#158 Post by ando » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:57 pm

They must certainly do.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#159 Post by domino harvey » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:13 pm

As much as I hate to interrupt the probing “Is not” / “Is too” Lincoln-Douglasing, friendly reminder that lists are due a week from tomorrow

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#160 Post by knives » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:58 pm

I never lie when I am saying I am being crude. To be honest I don't get what Ando is saying to the point where he may be speaking Martian. I just can't see how these performances could be described as flat and the idea that there is only one good way to adapt an author seems silly enough for a classic Cahiers opinion to me.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#161 Post by domino harvey » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:05 pm

I don’t agree with him either, but I don’t think there’s much to be said to someone who doesn’t get, like, or care what this film is doing— you really do have to give it some rope to reel it in

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#162 Post by Shrew » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:52 pm

The Merchant of Venice (Radford, 2004)
Another stridently serious adaptation of a Shakespeare comedy, but at least the darker—and touchier—subject matter lends itself to the treatment. (But if you’re going to cut the clown character, Lancelot, so much, why not just cut him out entirely?) The film’s big draw is Al Pacino’s appearance as Shylock, donning some strange, dodgy “Jewish” accent in one of those half-baked methodish choices that defines his late career. Accent aside, Pacino is mostly fine, doing much better in the later scenes focused on Shylock’s desire for revenge/justice (the “Hath not a Jew eyes…” monologue is at least considerably better here than in a stage version Pacino did that’s on youtube), but struggling in scenes where he needs weep for his daughter/ducats. And that, more than any over serious tone, is the film’s big failing: its inability to coherently deal with the anti-semitic elements of the play.

The film’s prologue adds some useful context about the treatment of Jews in 16th century Venice and tries very hard to emphasize how this hateful environment would engender Shylock’s turn to vengeance. It also cuts out most of Shylock’s worst-offending lines. But while several of the minor characters harangue Shylock, Jeremy Irons’s Antonio is portrayed as a melancholy saint, and once in Shylock’s grasp, a martyr. The afore-mentioned prologue includes an inciting incident of Antonio spitting on Shylock (mentioned in one of Shylock’s first speeches in the play), but this is portrayed as a aberration in Antonio brought on by the religious zealotry of a surrounding mob. Thus, the play becomes less about a Jewish outcast raging against the system and more about his gripe with one good man who made a mistake.

The film is also notable for some very text-not-subtext homorerotic overtones between Antonio and Joseph Fiennes’s Bassanio. While this gives some extra weight to Antonio’s decision to borrow money on Bassanio’s behalf so the latter can woo a woman, it doesn’t go anywhere. I think it’s meant to imply that Antonio’s outburst toward Shylock may have been overcompensating for Antonio’s own tenuous position as a homosexual—but again, the film doesn’t follow through. Instead. there’s a bunch of nude breasts throughout, because if biker gangs won’t get the kids interested in Shakespeare, nudity always will.

Merchant of Venice (Globe on Screen; Munby, 2016)
A Globe on Screen production starring Jonathan Pryce as Shylock, and using a more complete version of the text. The cinematography is basic 3-camera live coverage of a play and there’s nothing super compelling about the stagecraft (though there is a fun bit where Lancelot calls two audience members up on stage to represent his dueling conscience), so this is all about the performances and overall tone of the play. Perhaps because of the inherent staginess, the comedic and dramatic bits mesh well and build a good rhythm. The nastier lines of the play are back here, but the production feels less problematic than Radford’s film because the rest of the cast treats Shylock horribly. Antonio repeatedly abuses Shylock throughout their meetings, Portia seems intentionally trying to entrap him during the trial, etc. Thus, it plays like a flawed man fighting against an anti-semitic society, and just a petty grudge.

Pryce is very good, and the rest of the cast of stock stage actors are fine if not exceptional. The play makes a few interesting choices, like having Shylock and Jessica speak to each other in Hebrew, and in the play’s one other piece of compelling stagecraft, Shylock’s conversion is portrayed as an execution. But there are also other bits that don’t work, like Jessica falling to her knees and singing a mournful song in Hebrew when she learns of her father’s fate, which doesn’t feel earned.

This was better than I expected (I mainly turned to it after being disappointed by the Radford), and enough to make me consider seeking out more of these Globe productions. But I think my list will tend to the more cinematic fare.

I'm going to try to write up some of my viewings before listend, but if I fail, here's the witty version: the Kozintsevs (one great, one good but not likely to make my list), Taymor's Titus (great) and Tempest (bad), Prospero's Books (befuddlement becoming appreciation upon reflection mixed with lingering apprehension that this was just some Myst sequel I put on by mistake), The Hollow Crown (mostly meh, but a weak recommendation for Richard II), and a bunch of Hamlets.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#163 Post by knives » Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:46 am

The nudity is actually another weird piece of authenticity that the film half commits to.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#164 Post by Big Ben » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:58 pm

knives wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:46 am
The nudity is actually another weird piece of authenticity that the film half commits to.
My drama teacher in High School used the film to illustrate a point when teaching the play but couldn't show much. We all got a laugh out of it at the time because he had to turn the TV away from the class.

For those not in the know Venetian Law at the time required all prostitutes to have bare breasts because Christians authorities at the time were concerned about all the purported homosexuality in the city and they thought that bare breasted women would prevent men from wanting to have relations with other men. A laughable obviously but it's absolute authentic to the time period. In regards to the homoeroticism text/subtext of the film itself I imagine your mileage may vary on what you do with the fact. Without the knowledge about the nudity it just comes off as crude in my opinion. Rather than another layer to discussion being gay at the time and the homophobia that (still) pervades society.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#165 Post by bottled spider » Sat Sep 21, 2019 11:20 am

Shrew wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 6:07 pm
Love’s Labour’s Lost (Branagh, 2000)
Prior to the Tragedy of Poirot’s Moustache, I could expect a Branagh film to feature impeccable costuming and art direction, but also deathly basic musical taste. The man just can’t resist swelling strings beneath his big speeches (as in Hamlet’s “thoughts be bloody” speech) or repetitive motifs (as in Much Ado), which mar even otherwise good films. This, being a musical built around 1930s Cole Porter/Irving Berlin standards, at least has better music—even if it can’t resist those strings beneath the central monologue. However, there’s a trade-off with the costumes; the ladies’ gowns are trying for technicolor but are always either too dull or too gaudy and tend to lack texture, and the guys’ slacks and undershirts look featured on all the posters (and in one Fosse-aping number) is a mistake. The obvious staginess of the sets is more charming.

The songs are surprisingly well integrated with the plot, and while no one involved is a great singer or dancer everyone is charming enough. The tracklist, like in Peter’s Friends, leans toward the overly obvious and doesn’t reveal the deepest knowledge of the era (why “There’s No Business Like Show Business”?), but there’s more good than bad. If you’re content to let the songs themselves do most of the work, it’s fun just to see people have fun. Still, Everyone Says I Love You is the better homage to 1930s musicals from this period, having a few more ideas for how one might attempt to stage an amateur music number. The biggest flaw is Branagh’s reluctance to shoot anything further away than medium shots, which means there are several shots of twirling torsos with no legs.

This is also a Shakespeare adaptation that is trying to be funny for once, and I think it mostly succeeds. It’s overplayed at times, as Branagh can always bring out the ham in everyone, but at least the director has an idea of how to use camera and blocking to highlight the comedy. I liked Timothy Spall’s over-the-top Armado but was a bit cooler on Nathan Lane’s vaudevillian Costard, though I seem to be in the minority.

Branagh also includes some 30s-style newsreel segments to introduce characters and serve as transitions between acts. I can see how some might find these intrusive or superfluous, but I found them mostly charming, with the exception of the one before the final act, which seemed particularly redundant. They also put the play in the context of a world just preparing to march into WWII, which adds some needed counterbalance. This all builds to a newsreel coda detailing how the characters fare through the war, complete with those damned strings. But so help me I found it poignant anyway in how it shifts Shakespeare's intentionally incomplete denouement from a mere parting of lovers to a higher stage.

Also, points to omitting the play-within-the-play in the final act, although the deleted scenes on the DVD show that it was filmed. Like it does in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it serves little function but to halt all action for some exceedingly long and broad comedy.
It took a certain mad genius on Branagh's part to think such a stupid idea would work. Which it does. The old musical numbers fit, in part because they are so witty. I pretty much agree with this review word for word, in both its positives and its reservations.

I would never have watched this if we weren't doing a list project and I hadn't nearly exhausted the other Shakespeare DVD available at Ye Olde Video Rental Shoppe. I was so unexpectedly pleased with it I was initially considering putting on the top of my list.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#166 Post by bottled spider » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:11 pm

The Taming of the Shrew (Jonathan Miller, 198). What makes this play sexist -- and I'm aware that arguments have been made against that charge -- also renders it dramatically and comedically inert. Swap genders, and it would remain equally boring. To be dramatically fruitful, both parties would have to effect mutual change, in a thesis-antithesis-synthesis. To be funny, the would-be tamer should be foiled or perhaps pyrrhically successful; there's no comic potential in a one-sided taming exercise, whether you root for the tamer or the tamee. If young Shakespeare had spent more time sitting in front of the TV watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, and less time writing sonnets, he'd have understood that. The only funny scene in this play is the first encounter between Petruchio and Katerina.

Shakespeare usual excels in setting his plays in motion. Here, the initial setting up of the plot and subplot is laborious and mechanical.

I actually liked this the first time I watched it. John Cleese strikes me as well-suited to the role, Sarah Bladel is very good as Katherine, and there's Joan Hickson as the widow. Some of the interior sets are lit and furnished in a very pretty imitation of Vermeer.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#167 Post by Shrew » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:32 pm

Big Ben wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:58 pm
knives wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:46 am
The nudity is actually another weird piece of authenticity that the film half commits to.
For those not in the know Venetian Law at the time required all prostitutes to have bare breasts because Christians authorities at the time were concerned about all the purported homosexuality in the city and they thought that bare breasted women would prevent men from wanting to have relations with other men. A laughable obviously but it's absolute authentic to the time period. In regards to the homoeroticism text/subtext of the film itself I imagine your mileage may vary on what you do with the fact. Without the knowledge about the nudity it just comes off as crude in my opinion. Rather than another layer to discussion being gay at the time and the homophobia that (still) pervades society.
Thanks. That is useful information, though it (and the whole theme of homosexuality) are poorly introduced by the theme. There's nothing wrong with queering Shakespeare characters, and God knows there are enough close same-sex relationships in his work to build ground for it. But it's far harder to make that into a major theme that echoes throughout the text without adding a great deal of contextualization or making substantial changes. Both are lacking here.

The Hollow Crown (2012)
Richard II (Goold)
The first episode of this Shakespeare by way of Game of Thrones Henriad adaptation is the best by virtue of Ben Whishaw’s expert balance between querulous and imperious and Goold’s strong control of tone. It helps that Richard II is a simpler—or at lease more tonally consistent—play than the Henrys proper. And like Game of Thrones, while the deaths and action may get attention, it’s the dialogue scenes that are better done. The camera and blocking are often very still, giving a tableau effect not unlike Rohmer’s Perceval. Rory Kinnear’s Bolingbroke may well take this stillness to an absurd level, but it’s at least a distinctive performance. And Patrick Stewart, here John of Gaunt, is always welcome.

Henry IV Part 1 and 2 (Eyre)
This adaptation underlines how complicated and full of contradictions these plays are, which makes Welles threading of a needle in Chimes at Midnight all the more impressive. Here, the balance is given to the political matter, with Hotspur, Jeremey Irons’s Henry IV, etc. are giving good performances, with just the right level of theatrical bombast to stand out from, but not overwhelm, the earthier surroundings. But whenever we switch back to the Eastcheap inn, something feels off.

Because this adaptation has chosen a “serious” tone, Simon Russell Beale plays Falstaff with little charm and more benign conniving. Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal is good casting and works well off Irons, but in Eastcheap he seems to be there for some schadenfreude at the expense of the lower classes. Thus, the relationship between him and Falstaff feels like cringe comedy. But because we still want the pathos at the end, the film overplays those few moments of connection between the two, like the mock court.

I put these two parts as one because the director is the same and thus they share most of the same merits and faults, but Part 2 is probably the better, since the Falstaff scenes in Eastcheap turn more elegiac, the Master Shallow themes are more successfully comedic, and there’s more of Irons and Hiddleston. Also, the climax borrows heavily from Chimes, enough to make it seem like there almost was something more between Falstaff and Hal.

Henry V (Sharrock)
This draws a lot from Branagh’s war-is-hell adaptation, but weirdly emphasizes some of the text’s hagiography by framing the play’s chorus as a eulogy (spoken by John Hurt) at Henry’s funeral. There are some other odd choices: the St Crispin’s day speech is delivered to 6 lords on a hill away from the army. I think the film is attempting to play up how the cruelties of war fall on the lower classes, but it makes the whole “for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile this day shall gentle his condition” part a bit absurd. There’s also no excuse for Henry’s execution of the French prisoners, unlike in the major adaptations I’ve seen. Which, fine, but it again rings oddly against the framing.

Still, this is probably the second best of the episodes, because Hiddleston is charming and fun. In particular, he manages to make the interminable wooing of Katharine work. (I find it fun that this, the Olivier, and the Branagh all deliver such different interpretations of this scene: Hiddleston is a lowkey but sly charmer, Olivier is a king shouting commands, and Branagh is nervous schoolboy.)

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#168 Post by domino harvey » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:51 pm

Reminder that lists are due “tomorrow”, really whenever I get up on Tuesday (~noon EST)

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#169 Post by knives » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:40 am

Thanks for the reminder. Literally thought I had till Friday.

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domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#170 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:29 pm

I know I panic every list, but I only have four ballots so far, which is very low less than 24 hours out from a deadline. Reminder that less than ten means the list is scrapped

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bottled spider
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#171 Post by bottled spider » Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:58 pm

Other than The Taming of the Shrew, I never got around to revisiting the BBC's complete works series. There are a couple I might have voted for if they were fresher in my mind.

I wish I'd managed to revisit a few more popular, commercial adaptations, like Branagh's Henry V, Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night, and the Hollow Crown series.
As You Like It (Branagh). Well done, but I didn't get the purpose of the orientalism, the violence is a little overemphasised, and I guess the play itself isn't much to my taste.
Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh). Very enjoyable, except for Michael Keaton's toxic Dogberry. Reeves would be passable if he were the only stunt casting.

But I've had fun revisiting a few classics, such as Chimes at Midnight, Olivier's Hamlet, Kozintsev's Lear, and Nunn's Macbeth with McKellan and Dench.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#172 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:01 pm

This is definitely one of those projects with so many blind spots just by the nature of its flexible criteria that the results, including those plentiful orphans, will likely yield more outliers for future viewings than most auteur or genre projects.

Hopefully we get enough lists considering there have been at least ten passionately active participants in this thread by my count.

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domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#173 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:17 am

I regret to inform everyone that with only seven lists received, it’s not even close. So, this is the first list project to actually fail. What a shame

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bottled spider
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#174 Post by bottled spider » Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:25 pm

That's too bad. I can't complain, having commented on only a fraction of what I watched. But some of you wrote a lot, and did a lot supplemental reading for this.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#175 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:37 pm

This is very unfortunate, but in order to get some catharsis out of this project I'd like to suggest that people who did submit a list still post them in the thread if they wish. I for one have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts here and would be interested in seeing a ranking order from members who I respect a lot. It may not be a master list, but I'm sure it'll spark some curiosity into placement and likely cause me to seek out new works that I missed within the project timeline.

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