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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: September ::
Shakespeare and Film
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1889  Thursday, 12 September 2002

From:           Barrett Fisher <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Sep 2002 08:45:04 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare and Film

I am currently using my sabbatical to design a new course on
"Shakespeare and Film"; it will be positioned within a Film Studies
Minor and will complement my existing 300-level literature course on
Shakespeare.  I would be interested in hearing--off-list, if that is
more appropriate--how others have designed such a course.  As the title
suggests, it is balanced between the two poles of Shakespearean
text/theatrical tradition and modern cinematic techniques/genres, and I
am asking such fundamental questions as: is it primarily a course in
which I explore the various ways Shakespeare has been used in film
(probably relying on Roger Manvill's or Jack Jorgens' or Kenneth
Rothwell's or similar taxonomies to classify types of films and
approaches to adaptations) or is it a course in which I explore how
various cinematic genres have been adopted/adapted/transformed by
Shakespearean material (as in Harry Keyishian's chapter in "The
Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film")?  It is exciting to
consider these main approaches and all the permutations thereof, and I
would be interested in hearing about the experiences of others.

I also have a much more specific question: I recently watched Grigori
Kozintsev's "King Lear" (1971) on VHS in a very bad print (dark and
muddy) with quite inconsistent sub-titling.  The text is Pasternak's
version, but at times the sub-titles appear as though someone with an
imperfect command of Russian or English (or both) had provided the
translation.  For example: from the nearly nonsensical statement of Kent
about Osawald: "Such smiling rogues as these renege, affirm, and turn
their halcyon beaks with every galo [sic?--hard to read against
background]and vary of their masters, knowing naught, like dogs, but
following" to Goneril's unidiomatic dismissal of Albany: "It is the
cowish terror of his spirit.  Our wishes on the way may prove effects"
and Lear's description of a daughter at the trial scene: "And here's
another whose warped look declares what stone her heart is made on."
Does anyone know if a more recent print has been made available, either
on VHS or DVD?  The VHS I have is the one with "Hollywood's Attic" on
the cover; I think it is currently available at "Poor Yorick."

Barrett Fisher
Bethel College (MN)

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