The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1230  Friday, 3 May 2002

From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 02 May 2002 13:24:19 -0400
Subject: 13.1224 Re: Movies and Other Issues
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1224 Re: Movies and Other Issues

Brian Willis quotes DVD commentary on Luhrmann's adaptation.  I think it
is quite helpful to this debate.  Here is my commentary on the

>    "The idea in the whole film is to find modern day
> images and equivalents that could decode the language
> of Shakespeare". - Baz Luhrmann

There is nothing cryptic in Shakespeare's language.  If there were, it
would be the height of folly to accept Luhrmann's arrogant contention
that he holds the key to the cryptogram, especially in light of the

>    After many approaches to the cinematic style,
> "finally we realized that...Shakespeare's language
> would tell the story." - Luhrmann

You mean you did not know that before?

>    "Ironically, the thing that was incredibly
> successful about this movie is that you [Baz] took the
> text as written by Shakespeare and because we clash it
> with a modern context, the language is clarified
> because it is articulated in familiar images". -
> Catherine Martin, Production Designer

The images in this film are not familiar to me or, I hope, most everyone
else.  In any case, the "clash" of language and context confuses, it
does not clarify.  And, besides,  Shakespeare's play does not need

>    "One of the things about Shakespeare was that he
> totally stole popular culture or anything of the
> streets from low comedy but particularly he took
> popular music and just put them in his shows because
> that was a way of engaging his audience into the
> storytelling. Every choice we've made in terms of
> cinematic devices have been grounded in some reality
> of the Elizabethan stage. That has been really our
> motive in everything we've done here". - Luhrmann

Vas you dere, Bazzy?

>    "It wasn't a world of no rules; it was a world of
> rules as dictated by the text". - screenwriter Greg
> Pearce

I have no idea what this sententious babble means, so I can't comment.

>    Luhrmann on his film's tackling of (perhaps)
> Shakespeare's most famous play:
>    "seeing something well known in a different and
> fresh light",
>    "finding choices that didn't change the text per se
> but utilizing it in different ways",
>    "we were not the first butchers of the Bard".

Well, the last one is right.  But hardly an excuse.

Please come back, Brian.  I am knocking Luhrmann, not you.

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