Monday, March 7, 2016

Kenneth Branagh Plays a Shakespeare-Quoting Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn. Dir.Simon Curtis. Perf. Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, and Judi Dench. 2011. DVD. 

I should have expected to find Shakespeare scattered about in a film where Kenneth Branagh plays an actor / director . . . and where that actor / director is Laurence Olivier.

Indeed, the language of Shakespeare is peppered through the film. I've collated the major ones I spotted into a convenient clip for your benefit.

First, Marilyn was intent on using Stanislavsky's (or, technically, Lee Strasberg's) Method Acting Technique to play her role in the light comedy The Prince and the Showgirl. Later in the film (and in the filming), this will drive Olivier insane. Here, Branagh's Olivier makes light of it by saying, with the requisite Hamlet allusion,
We may seem a little strange and, uh, quaint to you at first, but I hope that in time, you may come to find your method in our madness.
He then launches immediately into "My very noble and approved good masters" from Othello.

His next also comes from Othello, and he utters it after a temperamental flight by Marilyn:
                                           O, now, for ever
Farewell the tranquil mind! farewell content!
Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars,
That make ambition virtue! O, farewell! (III.iii)
At the film's end, we get the final bit of Shakespeare this film has to offer, and it comes, not unexpectedly, from The Tempest:
You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismay'd: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                                       We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. (IV.i)
These quotes don't add up to much more than icing on the cake, really—but they're such rich icing on such an interesting cake.

Bonus image for those who read this far and were hoping for an image of Kenneth Branagh looking like Laurence Olivier looking daggers at the camera:

Links: The Film 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.
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—The Tempest