The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0435 Thursday, 2 March 2000.
From: Mike Jensen <
Date: Wednesday, 01 Mar 2000 09:41:17 -0800
Subject: Re: Taymor Titus
Comment: SHK 11.0423 Re: Taymor Titus
I'd like to encourage a bit of discussion on an aspect of Titus.
First, I'll confess to only one viewing, and while I have read the play
two or three times, I have not read it in a dozen years. My memory
I have a couple of quibbles about the film, but only one real problem.
My problem is the characterization of the Emperor as so obviously weak
and corrupt. At first it bothered me that Titus would chose this man to
lead Rome. While the corruption was not manifest until later, we could
see it in Alan Cumming's characterization and style. So, I would think,
could Titus. How could he possibly think this man was the right ruler
for Rome? I saw this as a weakness in the film, since the page has a
less modern spin on the character. There his weakness is not obvious in
the early scenes, in fact I don't remember a hint of it until he chooses
Tamora over Lavinia. Beware of rulers who change their minds about
their mates in early Shakespeare.
I have since talked myself out of this, thinking that Titus decision may
be based on family and tradition. He was going to chose this way
despite potential problems, because it is right! It fits the film, but
does it fit the play as it has come down to us?
Having thus reasoned, I reviewed relevant passages in F (I haven't
looked at Q1, but I don't expect any surprises there). I didn't notice
any lines that revealed his mind on this issue. All I found were
behaviors, killing his son for disobeying Saturninus, for example, but
the behaviors were AFTER the succession was settled.
I'm not sure how else to approach this. I welcome comments by those who
know both the film and the play.
All the best,