Friday, August 17, 2012

The Tempest in the Closing Ceremony

Spall, Timothy. "Be not afeard." By William Shakespeare. Closing Ceremony. Olympics, London, 2012. Dir. Kim Gavin. 12 August 2012.

A quotation from The Tempest figured largely in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics (for which, q.v.). The same quotation made its way into the Closing Ceremony—this time read by Timothy Spall in the character and after the manner of Winston Churchill.

Other Shakespeare quotes were also part of the Ceremony—printed as newspaper headlines and copy as part of the stage set (see the image above and the two images below). There were also quotations from other British authors, which sometimes led to unintentionally humorous connections. In the image above, for example, Samuel Johnson's famous words on the City of London are prominent at the top of the stage:
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.
That's all well and good—but the most prominent quote at the bottom is from Hamlet—when he is feeling quite tired of life himself:
To be, or not to be: That is the question.
But that's really beside the point.

The Shakespearean centerpiece was, once again, Caliban's "Be not afeard" speech—out of Winston Churchill by way of Timothy Spall (a version from the BBC DVD first, followed by my first effort—a clip shot from a screen):

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Leaving aside the argument over whether Kenneth Branagh or Timothy Spall gave a better delivery of the lines, what are your thoughts on this? How does it change Caliban's speech to have it delivered by Winston Churchill? Does it make it more problematic? Does it change the tenor of the dream? Does it bring World War II into it?

[Note: I'm sorry about that last sentence. I remember that I was distinctly told "Don't mention the war," but I forgot.]

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below—and feel free to mention any other Shakespeare quotes you spotted during the Closing Ceremony. I didn't watch too much of it myself. When I learned that Ringo wasn't going to make an appearance, the Ceremony lost some of its interest for me.


"Now is the winter of our discontent." —Richard III


"The Rest is Silence: What a Piece of Work is a Man." —Hamlet


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shakespeare in Clueless

Clueless. Dir. Amy Heckerling. Perf. Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd, and Brittany Murphy. 1995. DVD. Paramount , 2005.

Clueless is better known for its connections to Jane Austen than its Shakespeare references; however, one of the means it uses to convey the plot of Emma is Shakespeare.

I detected two Shakespeare allusions in my admittedly-hurried glance through the film, and they're the most telling for the way they contrast. In the first, the Cher Horowitz / Emma Woodhouse character rightly recognizes lines from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 as "famous"—but doesn't attribute them to Shakespeare. By the time, much later in the film, that the second allusion comes along, Cher / Emma has grown—and the male lead starts to recognize something more in her thereby:

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That Mel Gibson provides her with this ability to recognize what the character of Hamlet said or didn't say is immaterial—she has the knowledge, and she's able to employ it. And it's also a good sign that she attributes the quote to "that Polonius guy" instead of "that Ian Holm guy."

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Friends and Lady Macbeth

"The One with the Tiny T-Shirt." By Adam Chase. Perf. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and James Michael Tyler. Dir. Terry Hughes. Friends. Season 3, episode 19. NBC. 27 March 1997. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2003.
The omnivorous Shakespeare Geek usually beats me to the punch in relaying information about forthcoming Shakespeare films and cultural references to Shakespeare—which is why you should all follow his blog as well as mine—and this is no exception. In fact, Shakespeare Geek's blog called my attention to this Shakespeare reference in Friends. His post, written in 2008, mentions a brief Shakespeare joke in the show; however, his post doesn't provide the context or a nifty video clip. I felt that it was up to me to do so.

In this clip, Joey is mad at an actress who is treating him as an inferior because of her training in drama. Searching for a way to explain how she thinks she's better than anyone else, Joey ends his sentence with a cliché that doesn't quite jive with the beginning of his sentence:

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Chandler is quick to jump on the incongruity and to imagine a speculative actress who is actually named Sliced Bread (the caption on the image above should have capitalized "Bread" to stay with the joke)—one who made herself memorable as great by playing the role of Lady Macbeth. Once again, Shakespeare demonstrates his usefulness as a marker of cultural greatness—as does Shakespeare Geek.
Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hamlet's Father's Ghost's Speech in Paramount's Star Trek's Troi's Revenge

Star Trek: Nemesis [a.k.a. Star Trek X]. Dir. Stuart Baird. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, and Brent Spiner. 2002. DVD. Paramount, 2003.
In the worst of all the Star Trek films to date lies the final Shakespeare quotation of all the Star Trek films to date:
Remember me. (Hamlet, I.v.94)
The quotation had been used before—in an Original Series episode (for which, q.v.) and as the title of an entire Next Generation episode (for which, q.v.). In this film, it's used as a cry of revenge rather than (as in Shakespeare's play) a cry to revenge.

Deanna Troi has been psychically abused by the bad guys in this film; in this scene, she uses her empathic abilities to target the bad guys' cloaked ship:

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And there you have it. Captain Picard's cry of "Fire at Will" is as likely to be a reference to Will Shakespeare as to Will Riker (in other words, not very likely), so the Shakespeare allusions in Star Trek stop at "Remember me." And that is, all in all, not a bad place for them to stop—even if the film itself is pretty bad.
Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Quotation from King Lear in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Dir. William Shatner. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2005.

I'm not sure that much commentary is necessary here; the image says it all.

A Klingon character in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier utters a near-quotation from King Lear. In Shakespeare's play, the quotation has two additional words:
I am a very foolish fond old man. (V.vii.59)

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

A Rare Allusion to Cymbeline in Star Trek

“Genesis.” By Brannon Braga. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Dwight Schultz, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Gates McFadden. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 7, episode 19. Syndicated television. 19 March 1994. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

I acknowledge that my previous two (at least) posts about Shakespeare in Star Trek may have been stretching it a bit, but we're back on solid ground here.

In this episode, the hypochondriac Barclay is worried that he may be suffering from a particularly Shakespearean illness: Cymbeline Blood Burn:

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The skeptics among you may point out that the condition is spelled "Symbalene" in the captioning to the episode, and those same skeptics may point to the entry on Symbalene blood burn at Memory Alpha; however, those individuals may have overlooked two important points in their skepticism. First, the disease is likely named for this quote from Shakespeare's Cymbeline:
Thou basest thing, avoid! Hence, from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away!
Thou'rt poison to my blood. (I.i.125-28)
It's clear enough that a poison in the blood was enough to inspire the name of this condition, but the second point clinches it. Barclay had originally thought he was suffering from "Terellian Death Syndrome," which could be spelled "Tyrellian Death Syndrome" to indicate its connection to the character Tyrrel from Richard III. Tyrrel, as you know, is the one who dispatches the two princes in the Tower of London. If any Shakespeare character could be equated with a Death Syndrome, it's Tyrrel.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

"The fault is not in our Stars but in our Trek."

“Legacy.” By Joe Menosky. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 4, episode 6. Syndicated television. 29 October 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
In this clip, Captain Picard alludes to Cassius' speech tempting Brutus in Julius Caesar:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. (I.ii.140-41)
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Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Do you believe these . . ." allusions to Shakespeare in Star Trek?

“Yesterday's Enterprise.” By Ira Steven Behr. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. David Carson. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 15. Syndicated television. 17 February 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
The line I cite in this post is almost certainly not deliberately drawn from Shakespeare—but only almost certainly.

The episode contains this line: "Do you believe this . . . Guinan?"

Perhaps the connection is more between the way the line is delivered in a film version of Hamlet that I've seen very frequently, but I hear an echo of a line Polonius delivers to Ophelia: "Do you believe his . . . tenders, as you call them?" (I.iii.101).

I include both lines in the clip below. You be the judge:

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Note: Polonius' quote above comes from Hamlet. Dir. Kevin Kline. Perf. Kevin Kline and Diane Venora. 1990. DVD. Image Entertainment, 1990.
Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Few Final Fragments of Shakespeare in Star Trek: Data Quotes Sherlock Holmes Quoting Shakespeare

“Elementary, Dear Data.” By Brian Alan Lane. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Diana Muldaur, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Rob Bowman. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 3. Syndicated television. 3 December 1988. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
Completing my collection of Shakespeare references in Star Trek (for which, q.v.) has proven more difficult than I thought it would be. This week, I'll be adding a few small moments that I overlooked—even though I wonder if some of them count.

For example, is it Shakespeare when the person being quoted is clearly Sherlock Holmes—even if Sherlock Holmes is quoting from Shakespeare? In this clip, Data has taken on the role of Holmes, and he concludes his deductions with "The Game's afoot" (Henry V, III.i.32).

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Data does extend Shakespeare's original contraction to "The game is afoot," but he doesn't extend "afoot" to "a foot," which would create an interesting image.
Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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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.
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