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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Branagh
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0324  Monday, 12 February 2001

[1]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 09 Feb 2001 10:40:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0257 Re: Branagh

[2]     From:   Richard Nathan <
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        Date:   Friday, 09 Feb 2001 16:21:59 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

[3]     From:   David Maier <
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        Date:   Friday, 9 Feb 2001 08:38:39 -0800
        Subj:   RE: Branagh

[4]     From:   Bob Haas <
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        Date:   Friday, 09 Feb 2001 11:44:29 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

[5]     From:   Mary-Anne King <
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        Date:   Friday, 09 Feb 2001 14:21:32 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

[6]     From:   Susanne Collier <
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        Date:   Friday, 09 Feb 2001 15:10:23 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

[7]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 08:40:06 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Miscasting--Heston


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Friday, 09 Feb 2001 10:40:55 -0500
Subject: 12.0257 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0257 Re: Branagh

Thank goodness!  Now Shakespeare can be drawn safely back into the
academic realm, away from the garlicky breath and sweaty underarms and
linguistic shortcomings of actual citizens.  Timely, too--I read in the
Times that there's a big caviar crisis along the Volga.

I am pretty sure that the people who "hate" Branagh's work hate almost
all the Shakespeare performances they see because they attend them with
an idealized conception of the play already in place to which no actual
production could ever correspond, and which the particularities of a
production, no matter how rich the base of reading, reflection, and
experience from which they have arisen, will never or at best rarely be
able to affect.

David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Nathan <
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Date:           Friday, 09 Feb 2001 16:21:59 +0000
Subject: 12.0315 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

In response to Kristen McDermott, I was not referring to the Los Angeles
"morons" who loved the plays Branagh directed.  I thought the plays were
bad, but they didn't offend me, and I wouldn't call someone a fool for
loving the plays.  In any event, when I saw the plays, the audiences
definitely did not love the plays; they were at best indifferent.  The
only time the audience responded enthusiastically was during the big
musical number that ruined the end of "Pyramus and Thisbe."  It was the
MUSICAL NUMBER that offended me, and I was disgusted at how much the
audience loved the musical number.  And it was NOT the bergamasque after
"Pyramus And Thibe" - at least not in the production I saw -- it
replaced the end of "Pyramus And Thisbe" itself.  I still remember, with
horror, the cast dancing around the stage singing, "Those lily lips,
that cherry nose, those yellow cowslip cheeks, are gone, are gone!!!"

It is possible that they may have changed the number later in the run.
I bought tickets to see "Lear" twice.  (I bought them in anticipation of
it being great, before I'd seen it.)   The first time I saw it Emma
Thompson as the Fool was encased in a shell that made her look like a
human spider.  The second time I saw it, there was no shell.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Maier <
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Date:           Friday, 9 Feb 2001 08:38:39 -0800
Subject:        RE: Branagh

As an idiot and a moron who happens to appreciate Branagh's contribution
to the interpretation of Shakespeare, my disappointment with his LLL has
nothing to do with the concept or the goal of the production or, in
fact, anything Shakespearean.  His LLL effort failed for me because of
what I feel is his failure to grasp the genre of the Hollywood movie
musical which his movie attempted to emulate.

The beauty of the Hollywood movie musical is the absolute precision of
the dance, the exquisite articulation of the song, the attention to the
nth degree of detail in the set and the choreography.  By comparison,
Branagh's LLL felt like a cheap knock-off.  I honestly wasn't sure if
Branagh was also intending it to be a parody of some sort.  It's the
same feeling I have watching most community theatre productions of
Chicago or West Side Story or 42nd Street.  If the cast doesn't have the
dance or the vocal chops, it's just not going to be good.

Had Branagh populated his movie with singer-dancer-choreographer
participants with the quality of Gene Kelly/Fred Astaire/Esther
Williams, and had paid the requisite attention to the non-Shakespearean
details, I think his movie would have been a major hit, and a major
artistic achievement.  In fact, I'd love it if he'd call the thing back
and try to do it again.  LLL the movie wasn't a failure as Shakespeare;
it was a failure as a movie musical.

And, for the record, I found his Much Ado and his Henry V to be raw,
vital, alive, vivid and tremendously exciting.  For those who would
label me an idiot or a moron, I can only, in return, call them repressed
effetes who prefer to sit in the dusty corners of their own gray, dismal
worlds.

With a tip of the hat to Mike Jensen,
Dave Maier

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Haas <
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Date:           Friday, 09 Feb 2001 11:44:29 -0500
Subject: 12.0315 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

It's one of those interesting quirks of fate that most filmgoers know
McDiarmid best for his role as Senator and Emperor Palpatine in George
Lucas's STAR WARS films.  I wish I'd seen this production, even though I
enjoyed Derek Jacobi's Chorus in the film version very much.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary-Anne King <
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Date:           Friday, 09 Feb 2001 14:21:32 -0800
Subject: 12.0315 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

I am not a Shakespearean scholar-so I try to not say anything and just
absorb and enjoy this list-but would anyone knocking Branagh like to
step outside?

I loved Shakespeare as a teenager and drifted away as a young
adult-Henry V brought me back- Branagh brought me back.

There are defects but the pleasure outweighs the defects.  I just want
to feel the emotions and hear the words, and be entertained.

It would be a shame if he stopped making Shakespearean movies.

Mary-Anne King

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susanne Collier <
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Date:           Friday, 09 Feb 2001 15:10:23 -0800
Subject: 12.0315 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Branagh

Stuart Manger was particularly harsh on the stage version Henry V in
which Branagh starred.

I and a fellow Shaksper member, Carol Morley, saw the Branagh/Noble
Henry V many a time from its first preview throughout the Stratford
season, as we were standing-room-only RSC addicts from the Shakespeare
Institute at the time. As that season's debut production, Henry V was
billed as Branagh's RSC debut in part because he was a fairly recent
graduate of RADA.  Part of the impact of that production WAS that the
Henry was so inexperienced and that Brian Blessed et al characters were
so much more seasoned than he. It made the transition from Henry's
wilder days to his "first" kingly gamble all the more poignant.  I've
published a comparison of it with the film in essays in theatre/etudes
theatrales May 1992 if your interested in more observations.  I agree
that Ian MacDiarmid was staggeringly good but Mr. Manger is wrong in
ascribing the delightful Princess to Emma Thompson Katherine was played
by a french actress, who was a TV name from a popular Jersey detective
TV show, Bergerac (starring John Nettles).

Remembering those sore feet,
Susanne Collier

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 08:40:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.0315 Re: Miscasting--Heston
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0315 Re: Miscasting--Heston

The First Player is an emotive actor.  Heston was granitic.  He spoke
his lines with dignity and sobriety, but that does not amount to a
performance.  Hamlet is moved, not by recitation, but by incarnation.
 

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