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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2198  Thursday, 30 November 2000

[1]     From:   Harry Teplitz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 16:14:27 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare Films (Re: Titus)

[2]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 12:07:30 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.2193 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS

[3]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 18:07:45 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2193 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Teplitz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 16:14:27 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare Films (Re: Titus)

Hi,

As a mostly passive member of the list, I hesitate to get involved in
the Titus argument, but like everyone else, I just watched the DVD and
can't resist.    Let me say first that I think the film is fantastic,
but I have a question for those who think it is the greatest Shakespeare
film this decade: Is it a great in spite of the atextual character of
the child, or in part because of him?

Myself, I find the child a nagging presence that prevents (to my mind)
the film from entirely succeeding.  I think I understand "on paper" why
he is there, but I would rather have watched the play than watched
someone else watching it...

I also want to object to Sam Small's recent assertion that Shakespeare
films are doomed to fail because the emphasize star actors and spectacle
over the verse.  Obviously the verse is important, but didn't the
original audiences go to the plays to see the stars and the spectacle?

Large roles were written for the popular actors, and even references
made to their previous successes?  (Polonius as Caesar)  Also, it is
strange to accuse Shakespeare films of generally having actors speaking
verse badly.  What about Anthony Hopkins, Ian McKellen, and Kenneth
Branagh?

Shakespeare's audience certainly loved special effects just as modern
audiences do.  Titus is a giant exercise in spectacle.  Shakespeare's
plays are awash in spectacular moments (ghosts, witches, bears, gods,
the infamous "quaint device").  And the same audience was flocking to
plays with more spectacle and less (I assume) immortal verse; just look
at the current thread on outrageous stage directions.

Cheers,
Harry Teplitz

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 12:07:30 -0000
Subject: 11.2193 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.2193 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS

Pace Sam Small (if that is what I really mean!), Portsmouth is NOT one
of the most violent cities in Britain (reputedly or otherwise!).  I lead
a sheltered life, so it is difficult for me to gauge the level of crime,
but apart from prostitution (there is a Naval Base...) and drug dealing
I would have thought that there wasn't a lot of scope for organised
crime, but Sam obviously knows more about the gangster community than I
do!  There are clearly some pockets of economic deprivation, but this is
relative to the affluent south-east of England rather than in absolute
terms, and doesn't compare with that in other parts of Britain.

John Briggs
(who lives in a suburb outside Portsmouth)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 18:07:45 +0000
Subject: 11.2193 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2193 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS

I have said,

> before that I believe that the cinema is a bad place for Shakespeare.
> Cinema audiences expect expensive productions, be it sets or
> superstars.  If we don't get the one we get the other, but preferably
> both.  It is this expectation that is the enemy of blank verse.
> Shakespeare is about people and only people.  The terrain matters not.
> The costumes matter not.  Superstars tend not to be great at blank
> verse.  Therefore the verse becomes buried in million dollar sets and
> superstar egos.

It is true that Shakespeare's language is wonderful, but even more
wonderful are his stories. In a sense, he has insured the survival of
his stories by wrapping them in delicious language. That this is so is
reflected by the way they have crossed the barriers of language into
every other language on the planet including that of music and dance. I
thought the recent film of A Midsummer Night's Dream was marvelous,
entirely in keeping with the feeling of the original, but translated
into the language of film. I loved it when the director expanded our
idea of Nick Bottom by showing us a brief look at his repressive home
life, something film can do that other media cannot.  This is what
Shakespeare himself did with the stories he found, whether from folk
lore, Greek romance or history, and when I see a talented filmmaker
succeed in doing the same with his stories, particularly when good music
is added, I am thrilled. If some of the poetry is lost, well, that's
what books are for.

Stephanie Hughes
 

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