The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2374 Wednesday, 27 December 2000
Date: Friday, 22 Dec 2000 19:56:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 11.2345 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
Comment: Re: SHK 11.2345 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
Once more unto the breach....
Taymor is a designer, not a director. She lavishes all her creative
energy on scenery, props, costumes and other inanimate objects. She is
comfortable with human beings only when she can treat them as
stage-dressing (the lock-step soldiers, the orgiastic revelers).
Fundamentally a puppeteer, she has neither an eye for casting nor the
ability to draw performances from living actors. She either miscasts
(Alan Cumming), chooses classically-inexperienced players who can barely
speak, let alone fill, their roles (Jessica Lange, Harry Lennix), or
leaves capable performers to their own stale devices (Anthony Hopkins
with his familiar repertoire of murmurs, shouts and snarls). Her film
is a characteristic specimen of postmodern Shakespeare: heavy on
production design, but dramatically and histrionically mediocre. One
cannot do justice to Shakespeare through imagery alone, a truth that
postmodern auteurs seem unable to grasp. And Titus, of all plays, is
about flesh and blood, the very elements that leave Taymor at a loss.
Similar animadversions can be found in Stanley Kauffmann's perceptive
review of Titus in the archives of The New Republic's web site at
www.tnr.com. Kauffmann admires Taymor's stage work, as I do not; but we
are one in disliking her film.