Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Shakespeare in Love
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0016  Tuesday, 6 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Richard A. Burt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jan 1999 10:54:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Shakespeare in Love / Entertainment Weekly

[2]     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, January 6, 1999
        Subj:   Shakespeare in Love


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A. Burt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jan 1999 10:54:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shakespeare in Love / Entertainment Weekly

The cover story of the current issue of Entertainment Weekly is devoted
to the Oscar race and Gwyneth Paltrow, "Star in S in L" is on the
cover.  The story of the film's producer's campaign to get as many
Oscars as possible is the center of the story.

I saw the movie and liked it.  I was disappointed in its typical mass
culture account of authorship, however (Shakespeare, the romantic poet,
writes out of life experiences; he never read, never adapted sources,
etc).  I was perplexed by its representation of Shakespeare's
sexuality.  On the hand, the movie goes out of its way to make
Shakespeare straight.  No mention of the sonnets, etc. And even Marlowe
appears to be straight.  No boys or tobacco around. On the other hand,
the film adapts Twelfth Night (Shakespeare's love interest, Viola de
Lessups, played by Paltrow becomes-surprise-the inspiration for the
comedy).  There are two sequences of the lovers having sex or kissing
while exchanging lines by R and J. In the second, Viola is cross dressed
as a boy, and wears a moustache and beard as well as a bean bag penile
prosthesis.  In the first scene, she reads R's lines and S reads J's.
The film 'straightens' out this gender confusion at the conclusion,
however, when Viola ends up playing J on stage and S plays R.  I
couldn't figure out if the film was closeting issues of homosexuality
(none of the reviewers in any mass media publication I've read make any
mention of it) or whether it is outing its own "censorship" of same.
Shakespeare also cites a line of Cleopatra's "Give me drink of
mandragora" (apologies if I'm inexact here).  And the "out' gay actor
Rupert Everett is cast as Marlowe.

I was in LA last week and at several theaters there were huge posters
for the forthcoming MND.  Also saw a trailer that ran before the
Shakespeare in Love screening.  Looks like a colorized Reinhardt redo.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, January 6, 1999
Subject:        Shakespeare in Love

I would like to voice a few disagreements with Richard Burt's
observations made above regarding Shakespeare in Love.

I saw the movie too and loved it (despite the flat tire while trying to
park near the Avalon and my vain attempts to fix it during a bout of
bronchitis; so we didn't get the reduced rate and went to dinner before
rather than after the show.).

I was not concerned with "its typical mass culture account of
authorship"; this is romantic fiction not scholarship, and a ripping
good story it is.

As to the issue of gender confusion, Will kisses Viola when she is
dressed as Romeo wearing moustache and upon discovering Romeo is a woman
writes "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" to her.  All of this
seems to me to encourage speculation about gender confusion.  That the
boy actor playing Juliet's voice changes the day of the first
performance and that Viola then gets the chance to play Juliet to Will's
Romeo seems much more a plot device than a straightening out of the
gender confusion.

As for Marlowe's appearing straight, I didn't think so. In fact, there
is a wonderful pun in the episode in which Wessex barges into the
Curtain, intending to kill Will for his affair with Viola. A terrific
sword fight between the two follows. Will eventually gets the better of
Wessex and holds a sword to Wessex's throat, believing Wessex
responsible for having Marlowe murdered (The reason for this would
require another paragraph of explanation, after all Stoppard co-wrote
the script).  Will is stopped, however, from killing Wessex when, I
believe it was Ned Allyn, says, "Wessex didn't kill Kit. He was killed
over a Bill." Will replies, "Over a bill?" "Yes, you know, over a BILL."

The film is so amazingly layered and such fun to watch.  There is a
modern level (Will's seeing his shrink about his writer's block), a sort
of general-knowledge of Shakespeare level (Queen Elizabeth's suggesting
Will write a comedy for Twelfth Night {By the way, happy twelfth night
to all; unfortunately my doctor has ordered me off of cakes and ale for
the time being}), and a more specialized-knowledge of Shakespeare level
(the presence of John Webster {"I liked the part where she stabbed
herself."}).

I thought the film was a romp and invite others to comment.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.