Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Filmic Lears
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0782  Thursday, 5 April 2001

[1]     From:   John Velz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Apr 2001 15:22:19 -0600
        Subj:   A Thousand Acres on Film

[2]     From:   David Linton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 17:46:58 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.0760 Re: Lear Flicks

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 19:22:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Great or not so great Lears


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 04 Apr 2001 15:22:19 -0600
Subject:        A Thousand Acres on Film

To Bob Haas and others:

I have seen the film more than once and lectured twice on the book.  The
film, like the book, sees the Lear story from Goneril's
(Ginny's--Lange's p.v.), a curious twist which enables Smiley and later
her scriptwriter to draw into the Lear story in Shk. an incest motif
that would have thrilled Otto Rank.  When I lectured to 10 or 12 members
of a book club in Austin, TX, on the book (before the film was made) the
emphasis was on what is *Lear*-like about the book.  A squabble over
land in Iowa is made to seem archetypally timeless because of the motif
of ancient water under the earth and poison infiltrating the world of
the novel.  This and many other points were brought up and then came the
question period.  The women, aged 40-65, perhaps, pounced immediately on
the opportunity to talk about oppressive fathers.  They were typically
women who had majored in English at the University of Texas in the 1960s
or even earlier and then married and raised children and dropped out of
the intellectual life, which one supposes is the reason for the book
club.  It was breathtaking to feel the intensity with which one woman
after another made an angry indictment of a father who thought he could
control the female children he had made (not sexually, as Larry does in
the book/film, arguing "I made you so I can use your body as I please",
but determining their majors and their choice of college and on and on,
and generally putting them down without any compassion at all for the
daughters' wishes or points of view).  I was bemused and still am.
There was real anger from real suffering on the faces of all the women
(I was the only male in the room, and they did me the honor of saying
what they thought without reference to my presence).  All they really
wanted to talk about was the incest motif and not at all the relation to
*Lear*.  It was quite different when I lectured in much the same way in
the British Studies Seminar a year later.  There the listeners wanted to
talk about whether the incest motif is picked up by Smiley from Greek
Tragedy, and whether the novel should be read as lit crit of *King
Lear*.  The difference between two groups of people, one quondam
academic and the other now active in academe, was strangely compelling.

The book rewards an attentive re-reading with *Lear* near at hand.

Cheers,
John

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Linton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 17:46:58 -0400
Subject: 12.0760 Re: Lear Flicks
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0760 Re: Lear Flicks

Regarding RAN and 1000 ACRES, I think the first is a great film and the
second an interesting adaptation and more LEAR that the former.  Calling
RAN a version of KING LEAR is like calling TITUS good Ovid.  Sure, RAN
appropriates LEAR, but it's pure Kurosawa, not cooked Shakespeare.  To
dwell on its roots is to overlook and dismiss the great Japanese
director's presence.

Jane Smiley's novel is better than the film though such comparisons are
always full of fault.  Yet I believe it's an excellent treatment of
LEAR, one of my favorite adaptations among those which modernize the
language, because of how it changes the angle of perception.  Telling
the story from the vantage point of the daughters provokes us to think
about Lear's strange behavior and the daughters' motivations in fresh
ways.

Similarly, I think Updike's GERTRUDE AND CLAUDIUS is wonderfully
crafted in the way it provides a back story for the characters,
especially Polonius, that invites new speculation about what makes
everyone tick.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 19:22:45 -0400
Subject:        Re: Great or not so great Lears

Stephanie Hughes  writes

>Not that I've seen all that many Lears, but Ran is my favorite,
> more true to the sense of the original than any other I've ever seen.
> Along these lines, does anyone else detest the Ian Holm version,
> recently revisited on PBS television, a sort of low budget (no budget?)
> Star Trek. Truly a tale told by idiots.

I have to confess that I saw the opening only of the Ian Holm _Lear_,
but wasn't able to see the rest (unlike Coleridge, I forget why I was
interrupted). I didn't see enough to form much of an opinion, but was
not too excited about what I did see. I, too, love _Ran_, especially for
Tatsuya Nakadai's intense performance. For other Lears, I have to admit
that Olivier's bold performance from the mid-1980s (with a dream cast,
including Colin Blakeley's superb Kent) has spoiled me. His quiet
intensity when he finally recognizes Cordelia chokes me up completely
(of course, she helps immensely). Many people find him too "technical"
-- a complaint often laid at the master's feet -- but I have no problem
with his approach to acting in general or his performance of Lear in
particular.

Does anyone else remember this BBC video?

Paul E. Doniger
_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.