spence

Do many of you like Shakespeare?

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TCM just re-aired *Olivier's masterful 1946 Henry V-(another of his ten nominations by the way) & was awarded a special statue for his achievement.  But I respect it, but just cannot ever get into Shakespeare, his Richrd III (l956) is easily among the greatest performances ever given by an actor though & all here know about  *Hamlet.

Kenneth Branagh did a powerhouse & Academy Award nominated remake in '89 & *Pacino did a very good documentary  Looking for Richard  with an all star cast about how to understand and appreciate William Shakespeare-(died at only 52)

strill, I just can't get intr it due to the dialogue, anyone else?

 

(P.S. In all polls & surveys William Shakespeare is voted the all-time greatest writer)

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Question should be, "Do We Like Whom Authored Shakespeare's  Plays"?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question

There was a documentary on TV a few weeks ago and it was raised he didn't own any books. :huh:

(His last will made no mention of books)

 

Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordian_theory_of_Shakespeare_authorship

250px-Edward-de-Vere-1575.jpg

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I'm all for Shakespeare, but I'm not sure the works are well served by cinematic treatment. I think Olivier's HENRY V is fairly brilliant; I like his HAMLET (1948 Best Picture winner); and I like Joseph Mankiewicz's JULIUS CAESAR (1953), with the all-star cast. There are several other good movie treatments, and several that are not good (Roman Polanski's 1971 MACBETH, for example.)

The great value of Shakespearean work is the language - which is typically underserved by cinematic production. On the other hand, Shakespearean plots can be very effective in film when transposed to a different setting. For example of the latter, I'd cite A DOUBLE LIFE (1947, a reworking of OTHELLO, with an Oscar winning performance by Ronald Colman) and FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956, a loose adaptation of THE TEMPEST.) I also think KISS ME, KATE (1953), from the Cole Porter musical, is an entertaining treatment of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

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5 minutes ago, Brrrcold said:

I'm all for Shakespeare, but I'm not sure the works are well served by cinematic treatment. I think Olivier's HENRY V is fairly brilliant; I like his HAMLET (1948 Best Picture winner); and I like Joseph Mankiewicz's JULIUS CAESAR (1953), with the all-star cast. There are several other good movie treatments, and several that are not good (Roman Polanski's 1971 MACBETH, for example.)

The great value of Shakespearean work is the language - which is typically underserved by cinematic production. On the other hand, Shakespearean plots can be very effective in film when transposed to a different setting. For example of the latter, I'd cite A DOUBLE LIFE (1947, a reworking of OTHELLO, with an Oscar winning performance by Ronald Colman) and FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956, a loose adaptation of THE TEMPEST.) I also think KISS ME, KATE (1953), from the Cole Porter musical, is an entertaining treatment of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

And just think his *Hamlet-(though ironically on tcm right now & great fir what it is) defeated one of the all-time greats in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre???

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1 hour ago, spence said:

TCM just re-aired *Olivier's masterful 1946 Henry V-(another of his ten nominations by the way) & was awarded a special statue for his achievement.  But I respect it, but just cannot ever get into Shakespeare, his Richrd III (l956) is easily among the greatest performances ever given by an actor though & all here know about  *Hamlet.

Kenneth Branagh did a powerhouse & Academy Award nominated remake in '89 & *Pacino did a very good documentary  Looking for Richard  with an all star cast about how to understand and appreciate William Shakespeare-(died at only 52)

strill, I just can't get intr it due to the dialogue, anyone else?

 

(P.S. In all polls & surveys William Shakespeare is voted the all-time greatest writer)

I saw Al Pacino's"Looking for Richard" quite a few years ago. I was impressed with the documentary form of it as well as the limited actual reenactment of the play. What surprised me the most was how good Alec Baldwin was. LOL

My only regret is that either Al didn't have enough money to film the whole play, or maybe he had the money for the budget, but couldn't be assured of an audience to get enough of return to actually do it. 

BTW--I wasn't surprised that my favorite current actor was so good at Shakespeare. Al is the best there is.

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4 hours ago, hamradio said:

Question should be, "Do We Like Whom Authored Shakespeare's  Plays"?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question

There was a documentary on TV a few weeks ago and it was raised he didn't own any books. :huh:

(His last will made no mention of books)

Books were hard to come by, even after Gutenberg.  

I'll see your TV documentary and raise you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W15Nsjs3pXI - If you're going to play the Roland Emmerich "Was he illiterate?" card, the answer we do know is, "No":  John Shakespeare wasn't always a "poor glovemaker"--he was Lord Mayor of his village at one point, and may have been lucratively skimming off the corruption-filled wool trade at the time, before relocating to Stratford under very sudden circumstances likely due to the family's Catholicism--and had enough money to put Shakespeare through school.  The Shakespeare bios say Will learned "some Greek", which mostly came from reading Ovid's poetry and the plays.

There's an old writer's saying that "The first thing every author writes is the last favorite thing he read", and Shakespeare's first two plays, "Comedy of Errors" and "Timon of Athens", were flat-out fan-cribbing of classic Greek plays.  (Hey, at least he didn't write YA novels about vampire girls with crossbows, like most high-school-girl would-be writers.  😁 )

3 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

I saw Al Pacino's"Looking for Richard" quite a few years ago. I was impressed with the documentary form of it as well as the limited actual reenactment of the play. What surprised me the most was how good Alec Baldwin was. LOL

My only regret is that either Al didn't have enough money to film the whole play, or maybe he had the money for the budget, but couldn't be assured of an audience to get enough of return to actually do it. 

BTW--I wasn't surprised that my favorite current actor was so good at Shakespeare. Al is the best there is.

He was doing the role onstage, and couldn't film it without stepping on the production's rights--If you liked the "Actor analysis" documentary, the BBC did three seasons of Shakespeare Uncovered, where other actors similarly "explore" the backgrounds of other plays--Trevor Nunn's analysis of Prospero in "The Tempest", from the viewpoint of it being Shakespeare's last play before retirement, and seeing his grown daughter Judith leave the nest, is a particular conspiracy-killer.

And I haven't seen more Al in Shakespeare, but his Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (2004) retires the role, without having to resort to "woke" re-interpretations for modern sensibilities.

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11 hours ago, spence said:

strill, I just can't get intr it due to the dialogue, anyone else?

Many of me like Shakespeare.  Without a doubt the greatest author in the English language.  And there are not many in other languages to compare.  I read his plays every handful of years or so.  The problem you and many others have in appreciating him is natural.  His English is four hundred years old.  Meanings and usages have changed.  The best way to experience his work is to see it performed on stage.  Even if you don't get all the words, the intent and power come through.  Reading him takes time to accustom yourself to the language.  I use an annotated version of his plays, which have introductory remarks on the content, and performance history of the plays, and footnotes explaining words and passages.  Paradoxically, I recommend not referring to the notes, at least not at first.  It breaks up the flow of the plays, and turns reading them into a chore, rather than a joy.  The best annotated set of plays is called The Arden Shakespeare, but there are others.

As for that infamous canard about his works being written by some nobleman or other, it is simply another instance of thievery by the aristocracy.  It is not enough for it to steal money, land, and labor of people to sate its rapacity, but it even needs to thieve their creativity.  The answer to all the questions raised about the improbability of Shakespeare writing his works is simple.  He was a genius.

Members of the aristocracy, most of whom being distinctly average in ability and who attain position and success because of their social status or inheritance cannot conceive of anybody creating what he did without all the educational advantages they had.  Despite numerous and repeated examples of people rising out poverty and disadvantages through hard work and brilliance to attain success and create a lasting contribution to humanity, their greed leads them to begrudge anything of value to one not of their class.  

As for why others of equal brilliance have not appeared, the answer is also simple.  They have.  But they either were in other kinds of art, or in other fields, like science, or politics.  Other authors as brilliant have come around, but they could not hold the same position in our culture because Shakespeare already occupied it.

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The Scottish Play is the one nearest my heart. It is sad to say that many directors and actors believe they are perfectly suited for it but the vast majority are mistaken. Proper productions of it are rare and wonderfully compelling performances are rarer still.

My two favorite filmings of it are somewhat non-traditional:

Throne of Blood (1957) I believe that every pairing of Akira Kurosawa and Toshirô Mifune was exceptional in some way. This version of the play supports that belief. The addition of the cultural treasure Isuzu Yamada makes it perfection.

The Great Performances 2010 version is an absolute gem! Rupert Goold's staging it in a more modern and relatable setting demonstrates the realism of the motivations and emotions while amplifying the brutality inherent in the plot. The performance by Sir Patrick Stewart carries an unearthly intensity. Kate Fleetwood makes the audience share her madness. The multiple appearances and guises of the Three Witches is an audacious inspiration. 

I recommend highly also this version for those who have difficulty relating to the antiquated language. The imagery, nuances and presentation make it all perfectly understandable. 

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55 minutes ago, SansFin said:

Throne of Blood (1957) I believe that every pairing of Akira Kurosawa and Toshirô Mifune was exceptional in some way. This version of the play supports that belief. The addition of the cultural treasure Isuzu Yamada makes it perfection.

The Great Performances 2010 version is an absolute gem! Rupert Goold's staging it in a more modern and relatable setting demonstrates the realism of the motivations and emotions while amplifying the brutality inherent in the plot. The performance by Sir Patrick Stewart carries an unearthly intensity. Kate Fleetwood makes the audience share her madness. The multiple appearances and guises of the Three Witches is an audacious inspiration. 

The Kurosawa version is arguably THE version on film--It's hard for first-timers to appreciate Macbeth's complete collapse into tyranny by the last act, but with Mifune, it's VERY easy to believe.  Shakespeare's Macbeth only got a sword duel, not an arrow through the neck.

The '10 Stewart version, for those who haven't seen it, puts the entire action in a Cold War-era Soviet bunker, with Macbeth as a Stalin clone...That's also a little easier to understand Shakespeare's larger point about the character's transformation.  (The witches are also depicted as the bunker's nurse staff--Weird "sisters", get it?)

1 hour ago, slaytonf said:

As for that infamous canard about his works being written by some nobleman or other, it is simply another instance of thievery by the aristocracy.  It is not enough for it to steal money, land, and labor of people to sate its rapacity, but it even needs to thieve their creativity.  The answer to all the questions raised about the improbability of Shakespeare writing his works is simple.  He was a genius.

The entire concept of Shakespeare Not Being Shakespeare is a pure product of the English academic world, in a country that feels it can only express its individuality by attacking the same sacred cows they're told to worship--the church, the monarchy, their historical heroes, etc.--just for the act of dismissing them.

Particularly--for those who've sat through Roland Emmerich's nuttiness--the need to say not only that Marlowe, or Devere, or Bacon "might" have written them, but that Shakespeare was a country boob who couldn't even write his own name!  And a fraud!  And a peasant!  And an illiterate!  And...okay, okay, we get it, you could have just stopped at "What if someone else wrote Hamlet?", we don't need the bloodthirstily revisionist embellishments.

A writer has to have a unique style to hook you, and "whoever" wrote Shakespeare had to have written them all--They've all got that one distinctive voice, with a love of irony, sarcasm and reversal-of-fortune, a Greek-theater taste for recognizing hypocrisy in the higher-ups, and the ability to see human weakness in even the most symbolic historical figure.  That would be pretty hard to imitate, and easier to go with the theory they all came from one guy.  😁

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One of my favorite film adaptations was Richard III (1995), in which Ian McKellen played the title character. It's set in a 1930's fascist England. McKellen, as usual, was great.  

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I think I like Shakespeare more when it is performed by characters in a film (e.g. A Double Life) rather than the film itself being a straight adaptation of a Shakespeare play.  I also like more modern takes on a Shakespeare story, like 10 Things I Hate About You being an adaptation of Taming of the Shrew. I did enjoy Baz Luhrman's modern version of Romeo+Juliet in 1996. But if the film is a straight period piece of people performing Shakespeare, I tend to be bored. 

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Sort of like Elliot Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss) in The Goodbye Girl starring in an off-off-off Broadway production of Richard III as a flamboyant homosexual; described by the director as "the queen who wanted to be king."

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It's too big a question for me to answer. It's interesting, and I like, how malleable Shakespeare seems to be in film. We've seen it adapted in all sorts of ways in film, many of which have been cited above. But I tend to need to read it first, preferably with annotation, before I can follow what's going on by watching. Unless they really simplify the dialogue, like Zeferelli whittling Romeo and Juliet down to the most familiar lines surrounded by easier to understand expository dialogue.

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I feel that: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) should be mentioned here. It is more Shakespearean than many adaptations even although it is not technically one of Shakespeare's plays.

The language is of particular interest as it is much more modern while containing the wonderful wordplay which is the real basis for Shakespeare's fame. It is quite awesome how easily it blends with authentic lines when the story intersects the play.

 

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Ego compels me to mention I was in a high school play production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, in which I played The Player, I believe, the part played by Richard Dreyfuss in the movie version. I believe I was a Best Supporting Actor nominee at "zone" competition, although that was as far as our play advanced. 

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