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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: It's Only a Movie
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1116  Wednesday, 24 April 2002

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Apr 2002 18:54:13 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1107 Re: It's Only a Movie

[2]     From:   David Brailow  <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Apr 2002 15:12:36 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.1107 Re: It's Only a Movie


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Apr 2002 18:54:13 +0100
Subject: 13.1107 Re: It's Only a Movie
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1107 Re: It's Only a Movie

> 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.

Kenneth Branagh performed a full length stage "Hamlet" in an association
between the RSC and his own Renaissance Theatre Company before he made
his film on a similar basis.  The running time was about four hours, as
I remember.  The night that I saw the play, Branagh wasn't actually very
good.  He took about three of the four hours to warm up.

Thomas Larque.

"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://shakespearean.org.uk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Brailow
 <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Apr 2002 15:12:36 -0500
Subject: 13.1107 Re: It's Only a Movie
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.1107 Re: It's Only a Movie

I agree with many of the reactions to "Charles Weinstein" on the subject
of Shakespeare on film.  What's at stake for those who believe that any
tampering with "the text" is heresy and that adaptation of any kind,
whether on film or on stage (for what stage production can possibly
recreate the original conditions of performance?) distorts the author's
intentions and therefore is to be condemned?  It's obviously more than a
matter of taste or of varying assessments of the acting abilities of the
likes of Mel, Ken, Leo, Lord Lawrence, or anyone else.  The rhetoric one
hears from some scholars and from the cultural watchdogs of the right
suggests that civilization somehow depends on whether too many young
people see a film.  Permit me some skepticism on this point.

It seems to me that Shakespeare would be astounded by the proposition
that every word of his ought to be considered sacred and that the future
of the civilized world depended on re-creating his original intentions
in every performance.  Shakespeare was a popular dramatist, a highly
skilled adapter who considered virtually any story in any form fair game
for his creative talent.  He apparently had little or no interest in
seeing his plays into authorized print and seems to have been fairly
quick to make major revisions in the most successful tragedies, leaving
us to wrangle over which version we ought to consider "the text" of a
great play. He might be just as affronted by serious, scholarly
interpretations of the plays that lay claim to his authority as he would
be by Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" or Julie Taymor's "Titus."  But I have
trouble believing that he would find much to object to in the thought
that contemporary filmmakers would use his plots, characters, and words
to create new works of popular art.

But this argument will never be resolved, because underlying both
positions are opposed views of the definition, uses, meanings, and value
of art.  So long as one group believes that Shakespeare was a universal
genius whose works enshrine eternal verities which must be passed from
one generation to the next in order to preserve the culture, and the
other remains skeptical of these concepts and open to the enjoyment of
all forms of adaptation and appropriation of the plays, we will be
getting into these ideological debates.  That's fine, though.  It
certainly makes reading one's e-mail more entertaining than it would be
otherwise.

David Brailow


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