Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Celebrate Shakespeare's 450th Birthday with a Forty-Five-Second Film Festival Contest

"Shakespeare 450th Birthday 45-second Film Festival Contest." St. Paul Pioneer Press. Due by noon on 21 April 2014.

This seems like a good deal of fun as well as something that might encourage some interesting, creative approaches to Shakespeare.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is sponsoring a context ("Brush up your Shakespeare; Start Filming him Now" seems to be one of the tag lines). They're calling for films that are forty-five seconds or shorter that have something to do with Shakespeare:

"We'll consider anything, no matter how wondrous strange. Want to do a hip-hop version of Sonnet 18? A highly condensed version of Romeo and Juliet with an all-cat cast? Henry V’s band of brothers speech in Klingon? Lay on, Macduff."

I'm embedding the official promotional video below. Watch it—and then make something to submit. I know I will!

Links: Information about the Contest.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cockatoo Paraphrases Hamlet in Rio 2

Rio 2. Dir. Carlos Saldanha. Perf. Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jemaine Clement, and Kristin Chenoweth. 2014. Twentieth Century Fox / Blue Sky Studios.

In between discussions of The Tempest and its many interesting problems (for which, q.v.), Shakespeare Geek offhandedly mentioned that the trailer for Rio 2 alludes to and gives credit to Shakespeare.

I couldn't resist tracking it down and passing it along. In the brief clip below, a cockatoo with feathers (?) that resemble a ruff adapts a quotation from Hamlet. The line is part of Hamlet's encouragement to the players in the play-within-the-play to get back to business: "The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge" (III.ii.254). Enjoy!


Links: The Film at IMDB.  The full trailer.

Friday, March 28, 2014

An Odd Approach to Romeo and Juliet in Orange County

Orange County. Dir. Jake Kasdan. Perf. Colin Hanks, Jack Black, Schuyler Fisk, John Lithgow, Lily Tomlin, George Murdock, Mike White, Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline, and Ben Stiller. 2002. DVD. Warner Bros., 2009.

Orange County is an odd little film about a surfer who finds a book in the sand one day—one written by a professor of creative writing (I infer) at Stanford University. It turns his life around, and he desires nothing more than to become a writer. For him, that involves getting into Stanford.

The one scene that's directly related to Shakespeare takes place in his classroom. A quote above the white board there reads "Is not this something more than fantasy?" I imagine the quote is meant to inspire enthusiasm in the subject matter, but the fact that it's Bernardo's line to the skeptical Horatio taken completely out of context pleases me greatly.

The scene ends up being something of a parody of teachers who use film versions of Shakespeare plays to teach Shakespeare—but that's all right. I can take it. Observe:

“Some great movies are based on his plays: Hamlet, West Side Story, Talented Mr. Ripley, Waterworld, Gladiator, Chocolat . . ."

Well, maybe I can't take it, but I can see how some people might find that amusing.

The rest of the film is devoted to zany antics geared toward getting our protagonist into Stanford (his guidance counsellor sent in the wrong transcript, so he was declined). Finally, he meets the writer who wrote the book he found in the sand . . . and it turns out to be Kevin Kline. I can't help but see that as an allusion to his role as teacher in The Emperor's Club (for which, q.v.).

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Note: Romeo and Juliet in Asterix

Uderzo, Albert. Asterix and the Great Divide [Les Grand Fossee]. Trans. Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge. London: Orion Books, 2001.

I have fifteen quick minutes before I need to depart for class.

That may be just enough time to mention the spin Asterix takes on Romeo and Juliet.

I found this while doing a search for something else entirely in my local library. Serendipity is often quite welcome.

The plot of the Asterix stories is always generally the same. There is, in the books, one village in Gaul that has never been conquered by the Romans. The stories are filled with bad puns and battles agains the Romans. I started reading them in French (that's where I learned my bad French puns), but I turned to English when availability of the French editions started to diminish.

In this book, a different village is divided (you can see the trench that runs through the village in the sample below). But—are you surprised?—a boy from one side of the village is in love with a girl from the other side.

The image below is where most of the Shakespeare makes its way in to the story. Click on it to enlarge it, and enjoy this re-creation of the balcony scene.

Links: The Official Web Site for Asterix.

Click below to purchase the book from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Note: Tower of the Five Orders

Hicks, Deron R. Tower of the Five Orders . Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

I just finished reading the second book in the Shakespeare Mysteries series. For Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave, the first book in the series, click here.

I enjoyed the book very much—though I did spend a considerable portion of the middle of the book chanting "Please don't be a Marlovian Conspiracy Theory book. Please don't be a Marlovian Conspiracy Theory book."

It turns out that it isn't. At least, it isn't yet. Another cliffhanger at the end makes us wonder where the next book will take us, but it does seem that Shakespeare's authorship of his own works is fully secured by the end of the novel.

As with the previous novel, I really can't tell you much about the story without spoiling it. But I will just say that it's a terrific adventure story, complete with life-threating suspense and a few truly villainous villains. Read it.

Links: The Series' Official Website.

Click below to purchase the books from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2012 by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest