Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Legend of the Black Scorpion: Hamlet as Wuxia

The Legend of the Black Scorpion [a.k.a. The Banquet (Ye Yan)]. Dir. Feng Xiaogang. Perf. Zhang Ziyi, Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun, Ge You, Ma Jingwu. 2006. DVD. Dragon Dynasty, 2008.

In gearing up for several weeks on Hamlet in my Shakespeare and Film class, I returned to The Legend of the Black Scorpion. I've written on it many a time and oft. In fact, it was the film that inaugurated this blog over a year ago.  At that point, the film was known as The Banquet; it had not then been released officially to American audiences.

Since then, I've watched the film (well, most of it) with my Shakespeare and Film class and studied it carefully.

Yet I haven't ever shared a video clip of the film with you, my devoted (or even casual) readers. Let's change that.

This is the opening sequence. Please note the fascinating alterations of the Hamlet narrative, even in the opening sequence. And things get even more interesting as the film progresses!

The genre of the film is Wuxia, a kind of Kung Fu action film that developed in the Hong Kong cinema. Later in the film, the principles of that genre are brought to bear more fully; the film has a great deal of slow-motion, highly-choreographed violence. It's not my general cup of tea, but it fits the play's narrative.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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


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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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