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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: July ::
Re: Shakespeare's Popularity
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1346  Friday, 30 July 1999.

[1]     From:   Kris McDermott <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jul 1999 09:15:35 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jul 1999 13:40:22 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity

[3]     From:   Alexander Houck <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jul 1999 13:31:03 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kris McDermott <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jul 1999 09:15:35 EDT
Subject: 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity

Susan Oldrieve asked for opinions on Shakespeare's current film
popularity, which elicited some fascinating thoughts on the function of
culture, etc.- but no one's mentioned the obvious yet.  Shakespeare (and
Austen and Dickens and Hugo and Dumas, etc.) is FREE!  Of course a
screenwriter must be hired to adapt the play for the screen, but filming
the classics allows the producers to skip a step or two in the story
development process.  They also end up with a more-or-less pre-sold
product-high school and college students (the most desirable
demographic) will probably be given incentives (if not required) to see
the film.  Maybe the point was so obvious it didn't need to be made, but
it's always helpful to remember that film is both a cultural phenomenon
and a business in our culture.

Kris McDermott
Central Michigan Univ.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jul 1999 13:40:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Shakespeare's Popularity
Comment:        SHK 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity

Ed Taft writes:

'Some of Shakespeare's enduring concerns are the nature of politics and
the ways in which the sexes relate to each other. These are also two of
our culture's major concerns.'  Deep, Ed, deep. But isn't it also just
possible that what's popular is not so much Shakespeare as
"Shakespeare"-a fairly recent confection designed to promote feel-good
ideas such as the power of a winsome Bardic sagacity and the ultimate
triumph of the heart over the intellect? The latest version turns up in
'Shakespeare in Love': an inky-fingered, golden-thighed Oscar-winning
hunk, whose quill, nudge-nudge, needs a good sharpening and whose verses
won't flow until his bodily fluids do. Nonetheless, the lad still knows
A Thing Or Two about Life, whilst his compatriots dwindle into a nation
of earthy but endearing eccentrics, romantic rascals and loveable
cutie-pies. Of course he's popular. So is Hugh Grant.

T. Hawkes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alexander Houck <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jul 1999 13:31:03 -0700
Subject: 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1340 Re: Shakespeare's Popularity

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the immense influence of Peter
Brook on our modern attitudes and interpretations of Shakespeare's
plays.  Branagh's job would be much more difficult if Brook had not
revolutionized Shakespeare.  I'm sure I don't have to go into a history
lesson about his production of MSND.  This of course ties in the with
the cultural revolution of the time that comes down to, "we're not going
to do things that way anymore."  Wives don't have to be trapped in the
kitchen all day long and Hamlet doesn't have to be wearing pumpkin pants
anymore.

This in no way should minimize the wonderful work of Branagh as he has
brought Shakespeare into mainstream 90's films.  Since I've mentioned
the revolutionary work of Peter Brook it seems only fair to bring to
point the popularizing influences of Zeffirelli (sp?) with the 68 Romeo
& Juliet (complete with real Italians in the title role) and the highly
popular and equally criticized "Mel Gibson Hamlet".

Baz Luhrman's R&J would not have been possible with out the influence of
Peter Brook--well, at least that's how I see it.

Alex Houck
Santa Clara University
Class of '02
 

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