Friday, March 14, 2008

Inch by Inch toward Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure. Dir. Desmond Davis. Perf. Kate Nelligan. DVD. BBC / Time Life, 2001.
My main project for spring break is writing an essay for a Shakespeare conference in June. The play is Measure for Measure; the thesis is more complicated than a microblog on Shakespeare and Film can bear.

I’m hoping to convince Kenneth Branagh to get to work on his film version of Measure for Measure right away. The only readily-available film version of the play is the BBC production. The image above is of the Duke extending his hand to Isabella (his hand is ready—let’s see if it will do her ease) to ask for her hand (is her hand ready?) in matrimony.

It’s a key moment for any production of the play. Isabella isn’t allowed (or, depending on your point of view, doesn’t have) any speech in response to his proposal.

In the BBC, her nun’s habit is already close enough to a wedding gown, so (spoiler alert!), after a substantial pause, she does take his hand.

My essay needs to deal with how they got there and what we are to make of the rites, rituals, and ceremonies of the play itself and of plays contemporary to Shakespeare.

In the meanwhile, get started, Branagh! Our DVD players are ready—may you do them ease!

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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.
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