The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2193  Wednesday, 29 November 2000

From:           Sam Small <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 15:29:59 +0000
Subject: 11.2143 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2143 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS

Steady on Milla, its only Shakespeare.  And yes I was vituperative, but
towards Julie Taymor and her awful film not members of the list.  I
merely asked how on earth some of them could like it.  I am genuinely

You say calling a thing a "lie" assumes knowledge of the truth of that
thing.  Not so.  That I believe Taymor's inept film making suppressed
and distorted almost everything valuable in the original play does not
mean I am the ultimate critic of Titus Andronicus.  I have no idea what
a gagged person would want to say, but I do know that they are gagged.

But I do half take your point about not bringing preconceptions to a
film or play.  And later you concede that in the end we should all take
a position as to whether the director got it wrong or right. And this
point takes us to the wider issue of Shakespeare on film.  I have said
before that I believe that the cinema is a bad place for Shakespeare.
Cinema audiences expect expensive productions, be it sets or
superstars.  If we don't get the one we get the other, but preferably
both.  It is this expectation that is the enemy of blank verse.
Shakespeare is about people and only people.  The terrain matters not.
The costumes matter not.  Superstars tend not to be great at blank
verse.  Therefore the verse becomes buried in million dollar sets and
superstar egos.  In my view television is the ideal medium.  With new
large wide screens and digital sound directors can concentrate on the
poetry and the acting of poetry and leave the glitz behind.

You end by saying that I have a personal involvement in the play.  That
is true.  I have written a modern version closely tracking the original
plot.  I set it in the gangster community of my home town of Portsmouth,
England - reputedly one of the most violent cities in Britain.  In my
screenplay nothing happens off stage.  So you can imagine it is not for
the faint hearted, the delicate stomached or those under 18 years of
age.  A million miles from Miss Taymor's anaemic pastiche.  And Milla, I
wouldn't dream of imposing a single thing on you.


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