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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0968  Thursday, 8 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Tonya Beckman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Oct 1998 22:20:40 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0961  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh

[2]     From:   Linda Hobbet <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Oct 1998 00:35:59 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0961  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tonya Beckman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Oct 1998 22:20:40 EDT
Subject: 9.0961  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0961  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh

> I would add that he's also a decent actor, at least on occasion.  He
>  made a pretty good Henry V, for instance, when he was surrounded by
>  equally intelligent Shakespearean actors.  Since then, however, he's
>  surrounded himself with neophytes in order to dominate the filming in
>  lots of ways and indulge his own narcissism.  Witness Frankenstein.

So, I take it you consider Robert DeNiro, Helena Bonham Carter and Tom
Hulce neophyte actors?  Not Shakespeareans, but surely not neophytes.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Linda Hobbet <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Oct 1998 00:35:59 -0700
Subject: 9.0961  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0961  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh

Sean wrote:
>>> I would add that he's also a decent actor, at least on occasion.  He
made a pretty good Henry V, for instance, when he was surrounded by
equally
intelligent Shakespearean actors.  Since then, however, he's surrounded
himself with neophytes in order to dominate the filming in lots of ways
and
indulge his own narcissism.  Witness Frankenstein. <<<

I'm not going to argue that Frankenstein was a successful adaptation,
though I think it was a brave failure, but I am baffled at the statement
that he surrounded himself with neophytes in order to dominate the
film.  The cast included Robert de Niro, Helena Bonham Carter, Aidan
Quinn, Ian Holm, Tom Hulce, Cherie Lunghi, Celia Imrie, in fact I don't
think there was a neophyte in the whole cast.

In fact, one of Branagh's strengths is that he casts his films with the
best and most interesting actors in the business and gives them every
opportunity to shine.  Four of the five Oscar-nominated actresses this
year have worked with him, three of them more than once. Accusations of
ego and narcissism are often thrown recklessly about, especially in
relation to Hamlet.  Yet a major difference between Branagh's film and
other versions is not how much you see of Hamlet, but how much the other
characters' roles are restored.  In scenes with Hamlet and other
characters, he focuses on the other characters almost to excess.  I know
that when I see the play on stage, my eyes are drawn to Hamlet (if he is
any good).  Branagh forced me to watch the other characters much more
than my natural inclination.  I'm sure Branagh has a strong ego, bless
him, but he is also a very generous actor and director.  Some critics
confuse choices that serve the character with self-aggrandizement.  Had
the director and the star been different people, the choices may have
been criticized, but I don't think they would have been attributed to
egoism (which isn't a very enlightening criticism anyway).  I have heard
much more interesting and insightful criticism of Branagh's Hamlet from
some of his fans than from people who just seem to get off on celebrity
bashing.

Whether you like his work or not is a matter of personal taste, but such
wildly inaccurate statements do little to advance a serious discussion
of Branagh or Shakespeare on film.

Linda Hobbet

PS. Sean, I hope you recognize that only a small degree of my
exasperation is directed at what you wrote.
 

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