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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: It's Only a Movie
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1107  Tuesday, 23 April 2002

[1]     From:   R.A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 2002 12:12:40 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

[2]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 2002 13:47:18 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

[3]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 2002 17:52:48 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

[4]     From:   Michael W. Shurgot <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 2002 13:45:32 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

[5]     From:   Janet Costa <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 2002 13:51:02 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R.A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 2002 12:12:40 -0500
Subject: 13.1101 It's Only a Movie
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

> "Viewers of a movie version of a Shakespeare play rarely get its text
> complete.  Often, by the time the director is finished updating and
> adapting the play to the screen--adding music, rearranging scenes,
> transposing the setting, and so on--little remains of the original
> work

The "text complete" the we have of Shakespeare has suffered similar
mutations from the authors pen, to the fact of production, to the
scribe's hand, to the typesetter's bench. The process was not overseen
by a single eye. The process may have blended much, particularly of the
players, into "Shakespeare." I think the work that Foster and Egan are
perfecting may separate Shakespeare into many voices.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell
<
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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 2002 13:47:18 EDT
Subject: 13.1101 It's Only a Movie
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

I wonder if there were scholars in those Renaissance Years who groused
that Shakespeare took unpardonable liberties with Holinshed?

As far as this director/audience member is concerned, it's the same
thing: one artist appropriates another's text for his/her own purposes
and creates a new work from it.  I don't watch Luhrman's R&J, nor even
McKellen's R3, expecting to see "Shakespeare."  I expect to see Luhrman
or McKellen and what they've been able to create from a common text, and
in both cases I enjoyed the movie they made, not the play someone
thought they should have filmed.

If one wants something purporting to be a filmed Shakespeare, one might
look no further than the BBC marathon, and I know how well scholars have
received *that* attempt.

I hope I haven't repeated thoughts already expressed here--I've been
away, translating The Marriage of Figaro--and no, it's not going to be
"opera" by the time I'm through with it, but it will be damned funny
theatre.

Dale Lyles
artistic director
Newnan Community Theatre Company
http://newnantheatre.com

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 2002 17:52:48 GMT0BST
Subject: 13.1101 It's Only a Movie
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

> From:           Charles Weinstein

> "Viewers of a movie version of a Shakespeare play rarely get its text
> complete.  Often, by the time the director is finished updating and
> adapting the play to the screen--adding music, rearranging scenes,
> transposing the setting, and so on--little remains of the original
> work ... .

To which one might add that the evidence is that many a 16th/17th
audience was likely to get a Shakespeare text incomplete (and none got a
complete Lear, whatever that might be). Once the comics had finished
adding their business, and the actors had finished having a go at it,
quite a lot of what Shakespeare wrote might have gone missing/been
adapted or altered. (And what about the jig that followed?  Bring back
the jig, say I.)

Shakespeare himself did make-overs of existing plays, and what
travesties of Holinshed the histories are!  If he hadn't been
conveniently dead, Robert Greene might have had something to say about
the sentimentalisation of his Pandosto - base revenge by the upstart
crow!  And so one might go on.

There are good films and bad films based more or less closely on
Shakespeare; their success or failure as films is not measurable by
their fidelity to the text.

Professor David Lindley
Head, School of English

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael W. Shurgot <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 2002 13:45:32 -0700
Subject: 13.1101 It's Only a Movie
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

In the forthcoming (or perhaps just published) collection Shakespeare
and Higher Education, the latest incarnation of Shakespeare Jahrbuch, I
have an essay that twenty years ago I thought neither I nor anyone else
would ever have to write. With respect to some fine Shakespeare-on-film
versions and film directors of the plays, and with all due respect to
many excellent scholars of Shakespeare on film (H. R. Coursen, Sam
Crowl, Ken Rothwell, Anthony Davies, James Bulman, etc. etc), I argue in
this essay against relaying on film "adaptations," or "versions" in a
Shakespeare class and for making the (often substantial) effort to get
one's students to live performances. Film can be educational, and can
open students' to Shakespeare in their own medium, but, as even my
students in this small community college admit, live performances can be
so much more exciting and illustrative of a script than film. Not a
profound argument, to be sure; but as I said, one I never thought would
have to be made. My argument is also a version of the "act locally"
theme; students around the globe may all see a Branagh Hamlet or Much
Ado or Henry V and think that film version IS the play. But a local,
live performance, even if not "world class," can teach students far more
about live, sweating actors and their encounter with a script than
globally distributed celluloid ever will.

-Michael

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet Costa <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 2002 13:51:02 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1101 It's Only a Movie
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1101 It's Only a Movie

'Refreshing common sense'? I don't think so. The reason a Shakespeare
play is pared down so much for film is the same reason that it is pared
down for the stage: time. It was true for 1908's Romeo and Juliet with a
run time of 14 minutes and Branagh's full text (whatever that is)
'Hamlet' (3 hours plus with all the extra-textuals). Unless you also
want to consider that a director (Akira Kurasawa springs to mind) may
want the images he puts on film to express his interpretation of the
text. Which is just as well, since most audiences of the last ten years
won't sit still for more than 2 1/2 hours without a break. As an eminent
scholar once suggested, the human bladder can only take so much.

I would like to know from any of the members who seem versed in such
things, if there has been an uninterrupted 'full text' stage performance
of, say, 'Hamlet' or the Histories, and what the running time was.

I think the refreshing common sense part is the caption: 'It's only a
movie'.

Janet

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