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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: HBO Animated Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0622  Tuesday, 6 April 1999.

[1]     From:   Ray Lischner <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Apr 1999 21:51:39 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0617 Assorted Questions

[2]     From:   Richard A Burt <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Apr 1999 18:38:05 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0617 Animated Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Judy Kennedy <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Apr 1999 19:32:56 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   HBO Animated Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Skip Nicholson <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Apr 1999 22:51:30 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0617 Assorted Questions

[5]     From:   Stanley Wells <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 6 Apr 1999 11:40:29 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0617 Assorted Questions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ray Lischner <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Apr 1999 21:51:39 GMT
Subject: 10.0617 Assorted Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0617 Assorted Questions

On Monday, 5 Apr 1999 13:34:15 -0400, Larry Weiss wrote:

>I discovered a hitherto unknown resource while surfing the channel guide
>one evening.  There is a series of animated Shakespeare plays being
>broadcast on HBO at unwholesome times, like 6 AM.  I set my VCR to
>record a couple (notice, I am not so dedicated as to arise at that hour)
>and have now viewed two of them - RIII and AYLI.  As the RIII was rerun
>when I next set the machine to record the program, it may be that there
>is nothing else yet.
>
>Does anyone have any other information?

Shakespeare: The Animated Tales are also available on video tape. Amazon
lists Hamlet, Macbeth, Tempest, R&J, and Twelfth Night. Some use
Claymation, and others traditional animation. The animation is Russian,
but the voices are English-often well-known actors and actresses.

In order to condense a play to only 30 minutes, much dialog is replaced
by voice over and narration, but they try to keep the spirit of the play
intact, and they do retain some of the dialog.

Ray Lischner  (http://www.bardware.com)
co-author (with John Doyle) of Shakespeare for Dummies

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Apr 1999 18:38:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.0617 Animated Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0617 Animated Shakespeare

The series is widely available.  It's probably available at Amazon.com.
Laurie Osborne has an excellent essay on the series in Shakespeare, the
Movie.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judy Kennedy <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Apr 1999 19:32:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        HBO Animated Shakespeare

I'm not sure how many were in the series, but I have (besides the two
mentioned) Shrew, Dream, and Othello.  When they first appeared, it was
possible to buy accompanying texts.  The book I have for Dream (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993) is abridged by Leon Garfield and
illustrated by Elena Prorokova (based on the images in the animated
short).  The Dream animation was done in Moscow.  The series,
Shakespeare: The Animated Tales, was 'a multinational venture conceived
by S4C, Channel 4 Wales.  Produced in Russia, Wales, and England, the
series has been financed by S4C, the BBC, and HIT Communications (UK),
Christmas films and Soyuzmultfilm (Russia), Home Box Office (USA), and
Fujisankei (Japan)'.

I think the Dream animation is in many ways remarkably effective; some
of the others appealed to me less, but it is also true that I have given
them less attention.  The series is commendable.  (Our grandchildren
enjoyed them.)

Judy Kennedy

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[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Nicholson <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Apr 1999 22:51:30 -0700
Subject: 10.0617 Assorted Questions
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0617 Assorted Questions

>It appears from the credits that the creators are Asian, but English
>authorities, notably Stanley Wells, are listed as advisors.

The series is evidently a new set in the "Shakespeare: The Annotated
Tales" cycle HBO started several years ago. The first round included
Hamlet, Midsummer, Romeo, The Tempest, 12th Night, and Macbeth. The
styles varied widely. Although all are animated, the 12th Night has the
look of pastel marionettes, the Hamlet has a sinister comic book look,
and the Midsummer is in something like a Yellow Submarine style. The
original set is from the unlikely marriage of Mosfilm in Russia and
BBC-Wales. The newer ones may, indeed, be Asian since much animation
work has migrated to Korea, where artistic labor is cheaper. Sigh.

They're wonderful in the classroom, as introductions to a play or as a
review. There's time to watch the whole story and to talk about it in a
50-minute class. The story narration is newly written, but when the
characters speak, it's from the text. The first set came out with
accompanying large-format paperback books.

The HBO web site lists Othello and Taming of the Shrew as the April
movies-Othello shows on 8 and 24 April at 6:30 a.m. and 11 and 30 April
at 6. Shrew is on 11, 21, 24, and 29 April, all at 6:30. All the times
are A.M. and Eastern. HBO "follows the time zones," so they'll be on at
9 and 9:30 PDT.

HBO's web site has the schedule at:
http://www.hbo.com/schedule/bin/supersched2.cgi?target=_top&HBO=1&HBO=1&GENR
ES=ALL&request=sched&month=4&day=6&VB=D&OP=T&SB=C&x=11&y=8

Thanks much for the good news that there are more in this entertaining
and useful series. Now, if we can get them to reshow the As You Like It
and Ricky 3...

Cheers,
Skip Nicholson
South Pasadena (CA) HS

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stanley Wells <
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Date:           Tuesday, 6 Apr 1999 11:40:29 +0000
Subject: 10.0617 Assorted Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0617 Assorted Questions

The Animated Tales were made by the Welsh television company CS4 in
collaboration with English and Russian animators. The scripts, by the
distinguished writer of books for children and young people Leon
Garfield (now dead), use Shakespeare's words almost entirely (there's a
little narration in one or two of the films) and are I believe extremely
skillfully and sensitively done. As Literary Adviser I vetted the
scripts and helped in other ways so far as I could. The films were made
in Moscow, and along with other members of the team I visited the
studios there on two occasions. Three techniques were used: cel (i. e.
celluloid), puppets, and a rare technique, oil painting on glass, by
which a painting is made and then infinitesimally slowly modified with
the fingers to give the illusion of movement. The cel films required
around thirty thousand individual paintings for each film; we saw teams
of Russian ladies painting them in disused Moscow churches. The puppets
were around ten inches high, and had to have their limbs etc adjusted by
tiny degrees; there was more than one puppet for some characters. The
island set for The Tempest was a table top just a few feet in diameter.
I was told that, using this method, it was possible to make about 9
seconds of film per day. Sound recordings were made in England by
distinguished British actors including e. g. Brian Cox as Macbeth. The
first series consisted of six films: Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer
Night's Dream, and Macbeth (all cel, MND and Macbeth particularly
imaginatively animated, in very different ways), Hamlet (oil on glass -
very beautiful), and The Tempest and Twelfth Night (puppets, both
charmingly done. The Malvolio displays better comic timing than many
live actors I have seen in the role). This series was released in 1992.
It was followed by a second series of As You Like It, Julius Caesar,
Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, The Winter's Tale, and Richard 111.
Some, at least, of the films were also released in translation. Both
series were shown on television in Britain and the USA and released on
video. There is also an attractive series of accompanying books,
designed partly for educational use, published by Heinemann Education.
The manager of the Shakespeare Centre Bookshop tells me that the second
series of videos only is available at present. The tales have been
widely used in British primary schools, and have I think been very
valuable as an introduction to Shakespeare for the very young, but the
artistic quality of the films is so high that they can be enjoyed by
even sophisticated Shakespearians.

(I have no continuing financial interest in the project!)

Stanley Wells
The Shakespeare Centre
Henley Street
 

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