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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: July ::
Re: Branagh; Films; Adaptations
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0554.  Thursday, 13 July 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 15:10:19 GMT
        Subj:   Branagh or Bust
 
(2)     From:   Carol Marshall <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 12:31:28 -0400
        Subj:   Re: #1(2) SHK 6.0552 Re: Branagh Films
 
(3)     From:   Michael Swanson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 12:25:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0548  Re: Branagh Films
 
(4)     From:   Ralph Alan Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 14:01:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 11 Jul 1995 to 12 Jul 1995
 
(5)     From:   JC Stirm <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Jul 95 01:28 PDT
        Subj:   Casting Cleo/Branagh
 
(6)     From:   Fiona C Quick <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 12:23:08 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare Films
 
(7)     From:   Chris Gordon <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 95 17:36:36 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 6.0552 Shakespearean adaptations
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 15:10:19 GMT
Subject:        Branagh or Bust
 
Simon Morgan-Russell makes a wholly valid point. Bringing 'Shakespeare to the
people' is not and can never be an entirely innocent pursuit. Since we've been
considering the Bard's bust, perhaps it's worth recalling a telling moment in
J.G.Farrell's novel of the Indian mutiny, THE SIEGE OF KRISHNAPUR. Running out
of ammunition, members of the beleaguered British garrison proceed to cut the
heads from statuettes of literary luminaries in order to fire these from their
rifles at the oncoming hordes. The ballistic performance of Shelley's bust, I
recall, proves somewhat compromised because of its its flowing locks. However,
Shakespeare's baldness makes him a highly effective missile able to dispatch a
number of the mutineers in a single shot. That one Irishman (Farrell) is able,
in the matter of cultural hegemony, to perceive what another Irishman (Branagh)
cannot is of course one of the continuing ironies of that island's tragic
history. I'd have thought that citizens of the Republic (those sans the OBE, at
least) have rather less cause for muddleheadedness in such matters.
 
Terence Hawkes
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Marshall <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 12:31:28 -0400
Subject: SHK 6.0552 Re: Branagh Films
Comment:        Re: #1(2) SHK 6.0552 Re: Branagh Films
 
I think my initial reaction to the Othello movie was a purists knee jerk
reaction, as I now ponder it I believe that it will be wonderful and I hope
they pay the actors $100 million.  I think Branagh has done wonderul things and
should do more.  I think Othello has a lot of lessons to tell a modern public.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Swanson <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 12:25:48 -0400
Subject: 6.0548  Re: Branagh Films
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0548  Re: Branagh Films
 
Well, this may open another discussion, but: not only have I enjoyed Branagh's
films of Shakespeare, but I thought that Mel Gibson's *Hamlet* was pretty good,
too.  While I realized that not everyone liked it, I hadn't heard that
conventional wisdom had damned it thoroughly.  Is this so?  If so, why?
Certainly, some the script cuts were bad (esp. the 1st scene being cut), and
the Hamlet / Gertrude was a bit too Olivier-Oedipal for my taste;  but was Mel
that bad for a populist film adaptation, again, in the tradition of so much
19th century thearical adaptation of WS?  While I expect I won't be persuaded,
I'd be interested in hearing the reasons.
 
Michael Swanson
Franklin College of Indiana
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ralph Alan Cohen <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 14:01:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 11 Jul 1995 to 12 Jul 1995
 
Like any Shakespeare teacher or director I have some serious disagreements with
Branagh's choices in *Henry V* and *Much Ado*; those disagreements make, I
believe, for some good classroom arguments with my students, most of whom take
complete delight in Branagh's work.  How fine to have them defend a Shakespeare
production -- any production -- from me.
 
And how wonderful to be browsing in Blockbusters and to see all of the
Zefferelli *Hamlet*s and all of the Branagh *Much Ado"s checked out, even when
the university is not in session.
 
When I first heard that the *Much Ado* was coming out, I was worried because
the SSE had planned it as part of our repertory for about the same time.  What
we found out is that Branagh's film brought us customers and made the play's
name household in the manner of *Dream* or *Comedy of Errors*.  I'm grateful to
Branagh for that and for making a film with enough flaws to inspire somebody
someday to do it again.  And again.
 
The more, as they say, the merrier.
 
Ralph Cohen
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JC Stirm <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Jul 95 01:28 PDT
Subject:        Casting Cleo/Branagh
 
Hi all,
 
I've been reading with interest the recent discussions of Branagh's films, but
was startled to see a suggestion that Branagh and Thompson should do *Antony
and Cleopatra* before they get too old... (sorry, I don't have the exact
quotation, I'm working from memory).  While I'd be happy to see Thompson in
almost ANY role, I take issue with casting her as Cleopatra; surely *A&C* is
deeply concerned with racial and ethnic construction?  Following the logic of
casting an actor of African origin to play Othello, shouldn't we also cast an
actor of color to play Cleopatra?
 
Further, if anything, Thompson and Branagh are both too young for these roles;
the play talks about both characters as mature, not 30-sometihng. (Hm, I'd like
to hear some suggestions for who could play them NOW.)
 
Best, Jan (taking my 30s in stride) Stirm
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fiona C Quick <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 1995 12:23:08 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare Films
 
With the recent discussion of Shakespeare films, I thought I would provide the
following information for anyone interested. Currently in production are
"Othello" and "Richard III" and another "Hamlet" and a modern-day version of
"Romeo and Juliet" is in pre-production Cast/Crew lists (information from "The
Hollywood Reporter") follow:
 
Othello: Imminent Films (london):(Cast)  Laurence Fishburne, Kenneth Branagh,
Irene Jacob, Nathanial Parker, Michael Maloney, Nicholas Farrell, Indra Ove,
Anna Patrick; Johnathan Olsber (ExPrd), Luc Roeg, David Baron (Prd); Oliver
Parker (Dir/Scr), David Johnson (Cam); Tony Lawson (Ed); Iona Price (UPM);
Simon Mosely (AD); Tim Harvey (PrdDes); Debbie McWilliams (Cstg) Distributed by
Castle Rock Int'l. Started shooting June 15.
 
Hamlet:  Braidwood Films (NY): (Cast) Ernest Abuba, Archer Martin, Pamela
Holden Stewart, Gary Paul Wright, Britt Sady, William Rothlein, Don Arrup,
Richard Petrocelli, Elizabeth Rossa, Melissa Dale; Andrew Bellware (prd); Ed
McNamee (coPrd); Andrew Bellware (Dir); Chris Kondek (cam). Started shooting
July 6.
 
Richard III: First Look Pictures/Red Rooster (london): (Cast) Ian McKellen,
Anette Benning, Jim Broadbent, Robert DDowney, Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin
Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Bill Patterson, Jim Carter, Adrian Dunbar; Ian
McKellen, Ellen Little, Richard Eyre, Maria Apodiacos (ExecProds); Stephen
Bayly, Lisa Katselas Pare (Prods); Richard Loncraine (Dir); Peter Biziou (Cam);
Paul Green (Ed). US Distributor is MGM/UA, International distributor is Mayfair
Entertainment. Started Shooting June 26.
 
Romeo And Juliet: 20th Century Fox (Miami): (Cast) Leonardo DiCaprio, Peter
O'Toole; Baz Luhrmann (Dir); Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce (Scr). US Distributor
is 20th Century Fox.  No shooting date scheduled.
 
Fiona C. Quick
University of Minnesota
 
(7)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Gordon <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 95 17:36:36 -0500
Subject: Shakespearean adaptations
Comment:        SHK 6.0552 Shakespearean adaptations
 
I've enjoyed reading all the posts about Shakespearean films (those of Kenneth
Branagh and others), and wanted to concur with Simon Morgan-Russell (glad to
hear you're not a curmudgeon!) that *My Own Private Idaho,* *Prospero's Books,*
and *Edward II* are wonderful adaptations/interpretations of Shakespeare and
Marlowe. I love all three films. But they _aren't_ the plays as written; that's
fine for those of us who already know the plays and possibly for people who
enjoy interesting films, but if someone wants to see something approaching a
production of any of the plays as we have them (always noting that the
transmission process over 400 years is hardly perfect), they just won't do.
That's one reason I'm grateful to Branagh; he does give us a damn fine reading
of the plays as film--not overly interpreted, not with too many quirks (and
he's entitled to a few), Shakespeare for people who might not otherwise see the
plays. And his films are much better than the majority of the BBC productions;
though I love some of those, many of them would not be very appealing to a
large audience--they're just a big _too_ faithful, and hence often ponderous. I
just hope Branagh's success will encourage other people to try their hand at
Shakespeare, whether "faithfully" or wildly interpreted. I'll see them all.
 
Chris Gordon, who liked *Peter's Friends* and thinks Keanu Reeves has real
talent (dismiss me if you will!)
 

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