Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Klingon Hamlet Revisited

Shakespeare, William. The Klingon Hamlet. Trans. Nick Nicholas, Andrew Strader, and the Klingon Language Institute. New York: Simon & Schuster [Pocket Books], 2000.

The performance of selections of Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing in Klingon by the Washington Shakespeare Company received a fair amount of attention. One review quotes Christopher Henley, the Artistic Director, who said, "It seems a way to say that we're not as reverent as other companies in town."

All right. Fair enough. And I imagine it would be interesting to see such a production, even if you don't happen to be deeply engaged in Star Trek. What would it be like to watch a Hamlet without knowing the language in which it's being performed? What elements of Klingon culture would be brought to bear in the production? How would those elements be made comprehensible to what I imagine was a majority non-Klingon audience.

But I'd like to talk about the book for a minute. In addition to what I'd like to call "The Droes'hQuapleth Engraving" pictured above, the book has some magnificently funny material. As a parody of English Language Studies and Shakespeare studies, the footnotes are priceless.

Some of my favorites come from the nunnery scene:
nunnery: lit. squadron of the celebate. (The closest Klingon equivalent of a monastic order, these were bands of warriors—of either gender—who dedicated their lives to fighting, to the point of refusing to mate.)

O heavenly powers! lit. Power of Kahless.

like sweet bells jangled: lit. like a bagpipe clumsily squeezed.

to England: lit. To Earth. There is no documented instance where Terra paid tribute or ransom to the Klingon Empire; this is probably not a historical reference, although it has endeared the play to many young Klingons. (201)
But I also genuinely appreciate these notes from Hamlet's advice to the players:
I has as lief the town crier spoke my lines: lit. I would prefer my words to be shot from a Federation battleship.

It out-herods Herod: lit. He [who does so] is more deserving to resemble Molor than Molor himself. (201)
And, finally, this note on Hamlet's most famous soliloquy (from page 200—click on the image to enlarge it):


It's really quite remarkable stuff—even down to the parody of some conspiratorial elements—including some of the Nazi propaganda insisting that Shakespeare was actually a German author.

Links: Official Site of The Klingon Hamlet.

Click below to purchase Hamlet in the original Klingon
from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Monday, May 28, 2012

Shakespeare in Huckleberry Finn (The Novel and the 1955 Film)

Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn. New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885.

Huckleberry Finn. Dir. Herbert B. Swope, Jr. Perf. Denise Alexander, John Carradine, and Walter Catlett. 1955. DVD. Synergy Entertainment, 2007.

Do you remember the great Shakespearean actors from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn? They come along in Chapter Nineteen, eventually revealing their "true" identities to be aristocratic: one is a Duke, and the other is the long-lost Louis XVII of France.

I've been hoping mightily that one or another of the film versions of the novel would contain some part of their Shakespeare performances. But I've tried three so far, and this is the only one that gives us a bit of a Shakespearean connection—and that isn't much.

But Twain does some remarkable things with those characters and their knowledge of Shakespeare. Here's the scene where the Duke and the King plan a night of Shakespeare for the next town they visit—concluding with a marvelous interpretation of Hamlet's soliloquy:
"I'll answer by doing the Highland fling or the sailor's hornpipe; and you—well, let me see—oh, I've got it—you can do Hamlet's soliloquy."

"Hamlet's which?"

"Hamlet's soliloquy, you know; the most celebrated thing in Shakespeare. Ah, it's sublime, sublime! Always fetches the house. I haven't got it in the book—I've only got one volume—but I reckon I can piece it out from memory. I'll just walk up and down a minute, and see if I can call it back from recollection's vaults."

So he went to marching up and down, thinking, and frowning horrible every now and then; then he would hoist up his eyebrows; next he would squeeze his hand on his forehead and stagger back and kind of moan; next he would sigh, and next he'd let on to drop a tear. It was beautiful to see him. By and by he got it. He told us to give attention. Then he strikes a most noble attitude, with one leg shoved forwards, and his arms stretched away up, and his head tilted back, looking up at the sky; and then he begins to rip and rave and grit his teeth; and after that, all through his speech, he howled, and spread around, and swelled up his chest, and just knocked the spots out of any acting ever I see before. This is the speech—I learned it, easy enough, while he was learning it to the king:
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,
But that the fear of something after death
Murders the innocent sleep,
Great nature's second course,
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others that we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause:
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The law's delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take,
In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn
In customary suits of solemn black,
But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,
Breathes forth contagion on the world,
And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i' the adage,
Is sicklied o'er with care,
And all the clouds that lowered o'er our housetops,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
But soft you, the fair Ophelia:
Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws,
But get thee to a nunnery—go! (181-82)
The film listed above doesn't give us that (I'm still searching for one that does), but it does give us a fragment of Shakespeare embedded in the two connivers' conversation:

video

Yes, I'll keep searching and hoping!

Links: The Film at IMDB.
Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Great River Shakespeare Festival 2012

King Lear. Two Gentlemen of Verona. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Great River Shakespeare Festival. Winona, Minnesota. 20 June to 5 August 2012.
I've said it before, and I'll go on saying it until . . . well, I'm not sure when or if I'll stop saying it: The Great River Shakespeare Festival provides an astonishing experience every year. These actors, directors, costumers, apprentices, designers, staff, et cetera are at the very top of their game.

Past years of the Great River Shakespeare Festival have delivered brilliant productions of the plays. Witness their Taming of the Shrew, their Love's Labour's Lost, their Comedy of Errors, or their Othello. I anticipate that this year's productions will be even better.

Witness this video that provides some fascinating insight into the company:


Tickets are on sale now. Buy some.
Links: The Great River Shakespeare Festival.

The Atlantic Ocean, Simon Winchester, and the Seven Ages of Man

Winchester, Simon. Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. New York: Harper, 2010.
I'm trying to write about things as I encounter them instead of putting them on the back burner.

That's why I'm briefly mentioning a book I'm listening to and its Shakespeare connection. Ever since I read The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, I've tried to read everything that Simon Winchester has written. The man is an astonishing writer. He can make geology—a subject about which I would not generally be bubbling over with interest to investigate—completely fascinating. He is one of the modern masters of non-fiction. I've read his Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded , his A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906, his The Man Who Loved China (which was a bit of a dud, but a dud by Winchester is still worth reading), his Pacific Rising: The Emergence of a New World Culture (which was also on the less-than-thrilling side, but which might be seen as a companion to the book I'm currently reading), and his The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time. I'm currently listing to the audiobook version of his Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories (read—and marvelously read, too—by the author).

I told you that to tell you this. The organizational structure of Atlantic is based on Jaques' "Seven Ages of Man" speech from As You Like It. Winchester attempts to trace the history and culture of the Atlantic Ocean in these seven categories:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. (II.vii.139-66)
In another author's hands, it might be really, really cheesy. But Winchester is (thus far—I've only read into the second age) able to pull it off. And it demonstrates that Shakespeare is never confined to the study or the stage. He contains oceans.
Click below to purchase one or two books from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"It is the bloody business": Lady Macbeth's Complicity

Macbeth. Dir. Jeremy Freeston. Perf. Jason Connery, Helen Baxendale, and Graham McTavish. 1997. DVD. Hurricane Int'l, 2007.
I wrote a brief post on this film version of Macbeth some time ago (for which, q.v.), but, whether it was out of laziness or lack of technology, I did not include a film clip at that time.

Here's the clip and a question. In this version, the director has given Lady Macbeth some stage business that opens the question of her complicity in the murder of Duncan. Is she partly responsible? Is she entirely responsible, leading the innocent Macbeth down the garden path to murder? Is she entirely innocent of the deed herself?

Warning: The clip below is violent and bloody.

video

What do you think about that? Is that a fair portrayal of her character? Why or why not?
Links: The Film at IMDB.

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Bardfilm iPhone App?

Bardfilm. The Bardfilm iPhone App. 22 May 2012.

Has Bardfilm been spending its copious free time writing code for a new App for the iPhone?

Well, no. But I have thought of a workaround that will essentially do the same thing. The end result will be a button on your iPhone's home screen that will take you directly to Bardfilm's latest post.

First, head to Bardfilm's home page. The main page will be the best choice; that way, you will always be heading to the latest Bardfilm has to offer. If you are on a specific post instead of the main page, you'll always go to that post instead of to the latest post. Of course, if you have a particular favorite—Bardfilm's discovery of a previously-misattributed poem (for which, q.v.), for example you can use this same technique to get to that post.

But I digress.

Once Bardfilm's home page loads up, press the center icon at the bottom of the screen—it looks like a rectangle with an arrow jumping out of it and pointing to the right. That will bring up a list of options—you can mail a link to the page, send a tweet about the page, print the page, or add the page to your home screen. Choose the option that says "Add to Home Screen."

The next screen gives you a chance to name the button you're creating.  Just click "Add" and you're done.

And there you are! Bardfilm at your fingertips! Your home page will now have a button you can press to head straight to the latest post. And it's absolutely free! That just one of the ways we happen to roll.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Romeo and Juliet vs. The Living Dead

Romeo and Juliet vs. The Living Dead. Dir. Ryan Denmark. Perf. Hannah Kauffmann, Jason Witter, and Mark Chavez. 2009. DVD. Third Star Films, n.d.
While we're on the subject of zombie Shakespeare (and while I'm in between stacks of essays to grade), we can talk about Romeo and Juliet vs. The Living Dead. I got a copy at the beginning of the semester, thinking it might be useful or humorous as supplementary material in my Shakespeare and Film class. And its opening was promising. However, I'm not a fan of zombie films, and I'm afraid this one became tedious rather quickly.

For those of you who might be zomficionados, here's the opening, followed by what amounts to the balcony scene. It will give you a sense of the film, which mixes lines from Shakespeare's play with Shakespeareized lingo (e.g., "Come brush thy teeth"). Note: The clip contains some comic bloody moments (which is different than saying it contains some bloody comic moments).

video

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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


The Quality of Mercy in The Office

"Free Family Portrait Studio." By Greg Daniels and B. J. Novak. Perf. Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Catherine Tate. Dir. B. J. Novak. The Office. Season 8, episode 24. NBC. 10 May 2012. Hulu.com.

Two people mentioned that the latest episode of The Office contains a Shakespeare reference. That seemed like enough to require tracking it down.

I haven't watched the entire episode, but the context I've picked up is that the boss dearly desires to fire the character played by Catherine Tate—but she pulls what he calls "The Bard Card," using Shakespeare to elicit sympathy for her and to create a sense of superiority in him.

Note: The video is embedded from Hulu; if it expires, I apologize. In addition, Hulu doesn't allow for very precise editing of clips; there's a bit of the scene before and the scene after (though it does stop just before the boss utters a bleeped profanity). Finally, you'll have to watch a brief Hulu logo and a brief NBC logo before the clip begins. Thank you.


Links: The Episode at IMDB.

Monday, May 14, 2012

And then there is Zombie Hamlet

Zombie Hamlet. Dir. John Murlowski. Perf. John Amos, A.J. Buckley, and K.C. Clyde. 2012. Zombie Hamlett. Not Yet Released.
We have had Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead (for which, q.v.). We even have Romeo and Juliet vs. The Living Dead (review—or at least scattered commentary—forthcoming). And this morning I learned of Zombie Hamlet.

Every year, one or two students in my Shakespeare and Film class pitch a Zombie Shakespeare idea. Usually there's also a Civil War Shakespeare in there. This soon-to-be-released film combines the two under the glorious tag line "To not to be or to not not to be."

And here's the trailer:

video

Links: The Film at IMDB. Official Movie Trailer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Shakespearean Connections in The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. New York: Scholastic Press, 2007.

Hugo. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perf. Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Christopher Lee. 2011. DVD. Paramount Studios , 2012.

I have been wanting to write on this book since it came out, but I never seem to have time to sit down and write about it—except when I'm giving an exam. I don't think it's fair to grade other exams while students are taking an exam of their own (all that red ink tends to make them nauseous), but I can write without bothering them too much.

I've read the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and I've seen the film Hugo based on it, and they're both marvelous—but the book is much better than the film. Hugo is directed by Martin Scorsese. Like all Scorsese films, it's beautiful. Also like all Scorsese films, it's about a third too long. Some judicious editing would genuinely help the film—even though its acting, its cinematography, and its mis en scene are all quite marvelous.

Those of you who have read the book or seen the film are wondering where the Shakespeare is to be found. And that's why I'm here. The film's plot revolves around the re-discovery of one of the early makers of silent film: George Méliès. One of his most famous films—both before the writing of the book and the producing of the film and even more certainly now—is Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). But Méliès also directed a number of Shakespeare films—most unfortunately, none of his Shakespeare films is extant.

However, we do have some detailed descriptions of some of Méliès' Shakespeare films, and the marvelous work Shakespeare on Silent Film by Robert Hamilton Ball provides some of them. For example, Gaston Méliès (George Méliès' brother) wrote this self-promotional description of George Méliès' Hamlet (1907), which had a complete run time of ten minutes:
The melancholy disposition of the young prince is demonstrated to good advantage in the grave-yard scene where the diggers are interrupted in their weird pastime of joshing among the tombstones by the appearance of Hamlet and his friend. After questioning them he picks up one of the skulls about a newly-dug grave, and is told that it is the skull of a certain Yorick who was known to Hamlet in his natural life. Hamlet slowly takes up the skull, and his manner strongly indicates, "Alas, poor York, I knew him well!" The following scenes combine to show the high state of dementia of the young prince's mentality. He is seen in his room where he is continually annoyed and excited by apparitions which taunt him in their weirdness and add bitterness to his troubled brain. He attempts to grasp them but in vain, and he falls to brooding. Now is shown the scene in which he meets the ghost of his father and is told to take vengeance on the reigning monarch, his uncle; but not content with this, Hamlet's fates tantalize him further by sending into his presence the ghost of his departed sweetheart, Ophelia. He attempts to embrace her as she throws flowers to him from a garland on her brow, but his efforts are futile; and when he sees the apparition fall to the ground, he, too swoons away, and is thus found by several courtiers. He is raving mad and storms about in a manner entirely unintelligible to them; but they calm him gradually. The last scene shows the duel before the King, when Hamlet returns from the fool's errand upon which his royal uncle had sent him in order to get rid of him. The word is passed, and the well-known story of the duel before the King takes place in pictures which show the Prince's antagonist as he falls after a fierce combat. Now the episode of the poisoned drink, which the King has prepared for Hamlet, is depicted; his villainous mother takes the drink instead, and falls lifeless. Hamlet is now desperate, and bidding the courtiers to stand aside, he ends the life of his wicked uncle with one thrust of his sword, and then turns the weapon on himself; before dying he tells the secret of his terrible enmity toward the King, then sinks to the ground. Lying upon his shield, he is carried off on the shoulders of the courtiers. (Ball 34-35)
To see all that in the inimitable style of Méliès would be beyond the dreams of avarice! And to get all that into ten minutes of screen time would be incomparable. Perhaps Scorsese could learn something from Méliès about streamlining a film.

Brian Selznek's book combines drawings from Méliès' films with contemporary photographs of Méliès, giving his book something of the flavor of the material with which he's working:



I wish I could provide Méliès' Hamlet, but, at present, we can only hope that it will be re-discovered some day. I can provide a link to one of my favorite Méliès films—with it, your imaginations may be able to re-create something like Méliès' Hamlet in your mind.

Here, then, is L'Homme Orchestra (that title could be translated, essentially, as "One-Man Band")—a film from 1900:

video

Works Cited

Ball, Robert Hamilton. Shakespeare on Silent Film: A Strange Eventful History. New York: Theater Arts Books, 1968.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the book and then the film
(in that order, please—no exceptions)
from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).



You may also wish to purchase Shakespeare on Silent Film. If you do, you can start that process by clicking on the link below:

Shakespeare on Silent Film: A Strange Eventful History.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Grimaldi Shakespeare

Schoch, Richard. “The Grimaldi Shakespeare.” Shakespeare Bulletin 30.1 (2012): 1-19.
I knew about John Payne Collier and the extensive forgeries he committed. I've written a tangential post on the forgeries of William-Henry Ireland (for which, q.v.). I've read Samuel Schoenbaum's mind-bending Shakespeare's Lives, but somehow I missed learning about the 1853 forgery-cum-parody (or parody-cum-forgery) called The Grimaldi Shakespeare.

Fortunately, Richard Schoch, in the most recent Shakespeare Bulletin, has written a tremendous analysis of the piece, bringing it rightfully into the limelight.

Collier had, in 1852, purported to find a Second Folio with extensive notations by "Thos. Perkins"—a man writing in the 1650s who had some connection to the English theatre before its closure in 1642. The book, which came to be known as The Perkins Folio, was faked by Collier himself.

In 1853, before Collier's forgery was firmly debunked, someone put together a parody. It claims to be a partial folio "annotated in 1816 by the great Regency theatrical clown Joey Grimaldi" (Schoch 5). The parody itself is brilliant. Here's a passage that clarifies a supposed textual conundrum in Richard III:
There is a passage in Richard III. which has hitherto been received as the genuine reading. The 'First Gent.' says to Gloucester when he stops the funeral cortege of Henry VI.
'My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.'
A few moments consideration will show that this cannot be a correctly expressed line. Coffins are denied volition, and he must have used other words to make his meaning clear—such as 'let the bearers pass'—but we are fortunately saved all conjecture, by the true reading appearing in our Grimaldi folio of 1816, by which it appears the entire line as it generally stands is a printer's error. The line of type has dropped out in moving the form (no uncommon occurrence in a printing office) and the ignorant mechanic in trying to repair his fault has made it what it is. This is what it should be:
'My lord, stand back and let the parson cough.'
This new reading fortunately requires no defensive arguments when we remember that the clergyman had been walking bareheaded and slowly through the streets of London; and that common politeness required the 'First Gent.' to save Gloucester, also a gentleman, from an unguarded approximation to his explosive lungs.
The parody is delightful, and Schoch's examination of it is equally so.
Links: The official website for Shakespeare Bulletin.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

King Lear in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Dir. Zach Helm. Perf. Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman, and Jason Bateman. 2007. DVD. Twentieth Century Fox, 2008.
Several years ago, two of my students mentioned that there was a reference to King Lear in what was then a recent film. I finally got around to watching the film this year, and I'm just getting around to posting on it.

The recent news of Maurice Sendak's death brought the film to mind. In Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Mr. Magorium's time to die has come. Despite the objections raised by Molly Mahoney, his friend, compatriot, and employee, Mr. Magorium calmly explains that his story is drawing to an end, and he uses the stage direction Shakespeare uses at the end of King Lear's life to contemplate and to explain his own departure:

video

The speech is moving—even as the Shakespearean in me is wondering whether Mr. Magorium is referring to Q1 of King Lear from 1608 or Q2, published in 1619, or the First Folio of 1623, the words' effect is not lost.

Since you're wondering, the stage direction in question comes from 1623. In the quartos, Lear isn't given a dying stage direction.


Links: The Film at IMDB.

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

Monday, May 7, 2012

Songs from As You Like It Set to Folk Tunes

Shakespeare, William. "Under the Greenwood Tree." As You Like It. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 413. Tune: "Go In and Out the Window." American Folk Tune.
Shakespeare, William. "Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind." As You Like It. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 416. Tune: "Loch Lomand." Scottish Folk Tune.


A year ago, I directed a group of grade school children in a production of Much Ado About Nothing. The year before that, I was called upon to direct a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the same grade school. This year, they asked me to try for the hat trick: they've asked me to direct As You Like It for them.

I told you that to tell you this. Two years ago, I needed a tune for the lullaby the fairies sing to Titania (for which, q.v.). Last year, I found a little-known hymn that fit as a tune for "Sigh No More, Ladies" (for which, q.v.). This year, the production calls for two songs, and folk melodies seemed to be in order. Consequently, I set "Under the Greenwood Tree" to "Go In and Out the Window" and "Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind" to "Loch Lomand." With a little bit of tweaking and a loose dotted rhythm, they work quite well.

I'm offering up these to anyone who may end up in my position—searching for public domain tunes for Shakespearean lyrics. My apologies for the voice—it's not so wide as a church door nor as deep as Adele’s, but ’tis enough—’twill serve.

Below, you'll find two videos with the lyrics and the music (the production values are low, being ruled by practicality and speed rather than by pure aesthetics); you'll then find a score for each song below that (click on each image to enlarge it). Finally, you'll find the lyrics, which are very slightly modified from Shakespeare's. Enjoy!



“Under the Greenwood Tree”

“Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind”
Under the Greenwood Tree

Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither, O, come hither,
Come hither, O, come hither,
Here shall he see no enemy
But winter and rough weather.
Who doth ambition shun
And loves to live i’ the sun,
Seeking the food he eats
And pleased with what he gets,
Come hither, O, come hither,
Come hither, O, come hither,
Here shall he see no enemy
But winter and rough weather.

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

Blow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho, sing, heigh-ho,
Heigh-ho, sing, heigh-ho
Unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, sing high-ho for the holly!

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember’d not.
Heigh-ho, sing, heigh-ho,
Heigh-ho, sing, heigh-ho
Unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, sing high-ho for the holly!

Friday, May 4, 2012

May the Fourth Be With You: Chewbacca's Quotations from Hamlet

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker. Trans. Bardfilm. DVD. Twentieth Century Fox, 2006.
Having just completed my coursework for Wookie One-O-One: The Language, the Culture, and Dispelling the "Walking Carpet" Stereotype, I revisited the Star Wars series, and I was astonished to learn that Chewbacca, the most prominent Wookie in the series, is continually muttering quotations from Hamlet! I'm surprised that no one has written about this before, but there are far more Klingon speakers than Wookie (officially, "Shyriiwook") speakers in our galaxy.

The prime example of Chewbacca quoting from Hamlet occurs when he discovers the dissembled C-3PO:

video

There are many more examples than I have time to catalogue at present. Perhaps you all could return to this blog on May the Fourth of next year for another sample.
Links: The Film at IMDB.

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



Bonus image for those who have scrolled down this far:

Later in the film, Chewbacca bears "Yorick" (C-3PO) on his back in exchange for the many times—I know not how oft—C-3PO had borne him on his back.
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