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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Shakespeare in Love
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0024  Thursday, 7 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Richard A. Burt <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 10:52:29 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

[2]     From:   Stephanie Cowell <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 11:05:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

[3]     From:   Mike  Field <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 11:13:34 -0500
        Subj:   Shaksper in luv

[4]     From:   Hugh Howard Davis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Jan 1999 11:15:20 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

[5]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 10:07:21 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

[6]     From:   Christine Mack Gordon" <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Jan 1999 20:01:07 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A. Burt <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 10:52:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

A response to Hardy's response to my earlier post:

I don't think the citation of sonnet 18 encourages speculation about
gender confusion; quite the reverse.  It seems to me another way to
straighten out Shakespeare-the sonnet is only apparently addressed to a
young man (who is really a girl).

I stand by my account of the ending.  I of course would agree that it is
a plot device, that device works-I think intentionally, but whether it
is intentional or not does not really matter-to realign the genders of
actor and character.  Throughout the film, Shakespeare's literary
creativity is connected to the smooth-functioning of his exclusively
heterosexual desire.

As for Marlowe's sexuality, I don't think the pun on "bill" is activated
in the film-you can make it retrospectively to suggest that "bill" means
both "tavern check" and "William" (as in Shakespeare, I would suppose),
but in context, it clearly means only "check."  Nothing in the one scene
in which Marlowe and Shakespeare talk gives any indication that Marlowe
has a thing for Bill (Shakespeare or otherwise), nor is Shakespeare (or
any other man) ever called Bill in the film.  In any case, even if one
were to concede the activation of the pun, it is the only instance-and a
very subtle one at that, easily missed-in the film that suggests Marlowe
was gay.

All this is not to say that the film works exclusively to closet
questions of homosexuality.  As I noted in my earlier post, I was
perplexed by the way the film works contradictorily, seeming to closet
and contain potentially disruptive questions (assumed to be so for
presumptively hetero mainstream audiences) about the actors' /
playwrights' sexuality and to "out" its own closeting of same.

Best,
Richard

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Cowell <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 11:05:47 -0500
Subject: 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

I loved all the cross-dressing in the movie, and my husband, who
discovered Shakespeare in the past few years, shook his head in "here we
go again!" amusement. On the subject of a purely heterosexual William:
it's difficult enough to major market a film with such a scary hero as
the guy who wrote those old dusty plays, but to make him a little gay as
well! Oh my! Well, I would have liked it better, but then my mind's
hardly mass market. Maybe their using Rupert Everett is a mea culpa for
those who know. Bisexuality was NOT a side of William's character the
writers (and most Shakespeare lovers) chose to deal with!

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike  Field <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 11:13:34 -0500
Subject:        Shaksper in luv

Heigh ho Hardy, I wholeheartedly agree! What a fun time in the theater
and a pleasant antidote to the visually stunning but ultimately
stultifying Elizabeth.

I particularly liked the way Stoppard played with Elizabethan (and
Shakespearian) theatrical conventions (I'm assuming, like most people,
that the script is virtually entirely his own). Cross-dressing? The
essential need for a muse? A benevolent and all-knowing monarch,
disguised and at the last, appropriate moment revealed? It seemed to me
that Stoppard was just daring critics (and academics) to take him to
task for such outlandish and, of course, unbelievable devices. Doth
strain credulity to think on't.

Thank you, Tom Stoppard, for writing not about Shakespeare, but in his
spirit.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Howard Davis <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Jan 1999 11:15:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

>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."

A moment of clarification:  Ned Alleyn does announce that Kit was killed
over a bill, but the response was from someone other than Will, I
believe Geoffrey Rush as the money-counting misunderstander of drama,
who says "Over the bill?  How vain these actors are," which prompts
Ned's response, "Over the bill, not the billing."

Hugh Davis

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Jan 1999 10:07:21 -0800
Subject: 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

I do have a couple of unrelated, incoherent observations about
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.

Some of us wonder why Shakespeare's sonnet sequence is taken by so many
to be autobiographical when similar sequences are not.  If it is not,
there is little evidence of Shakespeare's homosexuality.  Even if it is,
it is still highly debatable given the expressions of Elizabethan
friendship.  Mr. Burt doth protest too much methinks, but this is a
sensitive issue and smart people can have differing opinions.

I enjoyed Mr. Stoppard's exercise in cleverness.  There were lots of
quotes from Shakespeare in the text, but also one sequence of lines I
did not recognize and think are Stoppard's way of saying, "Hey I can
string out a bombast too."  It is very good.

On the other hand, that ending -

Do we have any record of the Queen ever going to a theater?  If so, I am
unaware of it.  The whole ending felt contrived.  Very contrived.  So
Mike, the endings of TWELFTH NIGHT and CYMBELINE aren't?

Sure they are.  But Shakespeare's marvelous stagecraft always brings
those characters on stage for the big resolution in a way that "feels"
natural.  We don't find ourselves feeling incredulous that everyone is
in the same place when we experience it in the theater.  I think Mr.
Stoppard and his collaborator could have handled this much better.

Still, I am not motivated to put a lot of energy into stomping on a film
that gave me so much enjoyment.

Comments on Finness and Paltrow as R&J?  Is anyone ready to see them in
a film of that play?

Cheers,
Mike Jensen

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon" <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Jan 1999 20:01:07 -0600
Subject: 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0016  Shakespeare in Love

I'd like to add my enthusiastic endorsement to this film, which I've
already seen three times (I tend to get a bit obsessed when I enjoy
something). I thought it was extremely well done, loved the script,
enjoyed the working in of a few historical facts with which we're
familiar along with all the fiction.  While the focus of this film was a
heterosexual love story, there was still a lot of gender play going on
as Hardy mentioned. Someone else might write a very different story (in
fact, I have), but I certainly enjoyed this one. It didn't hurt that
both Titus Andronicus and The Two Gentlemen of Verona were highlighted;
I was involved with productions of both in the past year. If you haven't
seen it yet, get thee to the movie house!

Chris Gordon
 

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