Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hamlet, The First (In)Action Hero!

Last Action Hero. Dir. John McTiernan. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, and Austin O'Brien. 1993. DVD. Sony, 2007.

While looking through a folder of scholarly articles on Shakespeare, I came across Eric S. Mallin's tremendous and seminal work on Shakespeare and Schwarzenegger.
Mallin, Eric S. “‘You Kilt My Foddah’; or Arnold, Prince of Denmark.” Shakespeare Quarterly 50 (1999): 127-51.
I keep meaning to require it as reading for my Shakespeare and Film class—and I'll certainly do so next time. The way the article reads deeply into the film and into Shakespeare is intriguing.

For example, Mallin points out the interest of the choice the teacher (played by Joan Plowright, Lawrence Olivier's widow) makes in showing a scene from Olivier's Hamlet.

The connection-by-marriage is obviously interesting. But, more interesting that that, is the teacher's decision to show the Claudius-at-prayer scene to support her thesis that Hamlet is "one of the first action heroes." Mallin says that "The weight of the wish in Danny's dream of Shakespeare and the appropriateness of Arnold as a bearer of this weight are of course that Hamlet become an agent of immediate, uncompromising revenge and destruction, not of mediation and equity" (130).

To follow Mallin, Hamlet works because its hero is an inaction hero. We know what action heroes might (and will) do, but we wonder constantly what Hamlet will do, how he'll do it, and (to an extent) why he doesn't.

That's an unformed thought, but I have a semester or two to work on it. In the meantime, enjoy the scene below!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Twin Cities Park-Bound Shakespeare

Love’s Labor’s Lost. Dir. Derek Washington. Perf. Erin Busby, Paul Brutcher, Erin Caswell, and Erika Danielle Crane. Cromulent Shakespeare Company. St. Paul, Minnesota. 6-28 June 2008.
You peasant swain! you whoreson malt-horse drudge!
Did I not bid thee meet me in the park,
And bring along these rascal knaves with thee? (The Taming of the Shrew, IV.i.129-31)
This year, the Cromulent Shakespeare Company is presenting Love’s Labor’s Lost in various parks in the Twin Cities. I think that it will be well worth a trip, especially because there is no cost!

Leaving apart, of course, the cost of trying to follow the tightly-constructed, university-wit-parodying, dizzyingly-rapid language of the play!

The first show is in Kenwood part one week from today: on Friday, June 6 at 7:00 p.m.

For families, there’s a performance at Como Park at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 15.

Let’s hope it’s a good one! But, stellar or not-quite-so-stellar, it’s free and it’s in the park.


The Ape-Bearer will be Down for the Weekend: Hamlet Auditions

A Midwinter’s Tale [a.k.a. In the Bleak Midwinter]. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Richard Briers, Hetta Charnley, Joan Collins, Nicholas Farrell, Mark Hadfield, Gerard Horan, Celia Imrie, Michael Maloney, Jennifer Saunders, Julia Sawalha, and John Sessions. 1995. Videocassette. Turner, 1999.
“I know this man well: he hath been since an ape-bearer;
then a process-server, a bailiff . . .” (A Winter’s Tale, IV.iii.94-96).
The College’s server is going to be out until Sunday, so I thought I’d quickly try to put up this selection of auditions for Hamlet from Branagh’s A Midwinter’s Tale—a really brilliant film that has not yet been released on DVD. I'm also considering moving most of my blogging to this site rather than the other. It's becoming cumbersome to update the entire site every time.


[Quick Note: Language may not be appropriate for all viewers. There's only one obscenity, but I thought I should mention it.]

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

“Lively-Minded Discussion by Stellar Shakespearean Scholars”

Jones, Keith. “'Why, you are nothing then: Neither Maid, Widow, nor Wife?': Motives, Morals, and Marriages in Measure for Measure.” WORD and RITE: The Bible and Ceremony in Selected Shakespeare Plays. The Shakespeare Institute. 5-7 June 2008.
Alternate title: “I know what I’ll be doing this summer.”

In just over a week, I’ll be presending my paper on Measure for Measure at the Shakespeare Institute at Wheaton College. The Institute is the entity kind enough to promise the “lively-minded discussion” mentioned above.

It strikes me that “stellar Shakespearean scholars” probably end their blog posts at this point and get back to their essays.

So I will, too.

Finding Small Measure in a Waste of Shame

A Waste of Shame. By William Boyd. Perf. Rupert Graves, Tom Sturridge, Indira Varma, and Anna Chancellor. Dir. John McKay. Shakespeare Retold. 2005. DVD. Open University / BBC, 2005.

That title may sound like a line from a Shakespearean sonnet, but it refers to a scene in A Waste of Shame in which one of Shakespeare’s fellow actors delivers Angelo’s lines from Act II, scene ii of Measure for Measure.

I wish I could gather this brief speech up and put it on the site for all to see, but it’s beyond my technical abilities (and my time limitations!) at this point.  [Note: My technical abilities improved; you may now find a clip here.]

I recalled it because almost all my attention is directed at finishing the revisions on my Measure for Measure essay, due to be presented at a conference in just over a week’s time.

Since I can’t give you the video of the speech itself, I’ll just reproduce the text below. You’ll have to pierce out this blog’s imperfections with your thoughts, thinking when we talk of that actor delivering his lines that you see him putting his proud lines i’ th’ receiving audience’s ear. And also a general pan of the audience that reveals Shakespeare watching his own play and thinking of his lost loves.
Most dangerous
Is that temptation that doth goad us on
To sin in loving virtue: never could the strumpet,
With all her double vigour, art and nature,
Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid
Subdues me quite. Ever till now,
When men were fond, I smiled and wonder'd how.
(MM, II.ii.181-87)

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Professional Amateur Production of RJ

Earlier, I was only able to post a few pictures from the Romeo and Juliet portion of Hot Fuzz. Now, it seems, I can post a fifty-five-second video clip!

Hot Fuzz. Dir. Edgar Wright. Perf. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. 2007. DVD. Universal Studios, 2007.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh, What a Lear!

King Lear. Dir. Trevor Nunn. Perf. Sir Ian McKellen, Sylvester McCoy, Romola Garai, William Gaunt, Frances Barber, and Monica Dolan. BBC, 26 December 2008.
Last Fall, we were privileged beyond belief to see Ian McKellen (and the RSC—sorry not to give you top billiing, RSC . . . maybe later) in a production of King Lear directed by Trevor Nunn. I felt very honored and humbled and was grateful beyond measure that our Guthrie-Theatre-season-ticket-holdin’ friends were able to wrangle us two seats with them.

At that time, I wished that more people could witness this astonishing actor in this more-than-astonishing role. I wanted to take every student at the college to the production, in fact. But the tickets sold out almost immediately and the run was a very limited one.

Well, on Boxing Day this year, a version of that production made for television broadcast will be broadcast! And that may mean that a US release—either on television or on DVD—will follow.

It will not be the same as live theatre. I’m not sure any film version can capture the rituals, rites, and responses of attending a production with fellow audience members. But it does vastly expand the extent of the potential audience.

Hamlet 2 Trailer

Hamlet 2. Dir. Andrew Fleming. Screenplay by Pam Brady and Andrew Fleming. Perf. Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, David Arquette, and Elisabeth Shue. Focus, 27 August 2008.

Well. I just viewed the trailer for Hamlet 2, and I must confess that my earlier enthusaism is waning a bit. Just a bit. Well, a bit more than a bit, I suppose, but hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

Trailers are supposed to contain the best material in the film, and the modern moviegoer holds out hope that the rest of the film will be just as good as the best parts of the trailer.

I think that this modern moviegoer will have to hope that the rest of the film will be better than the best parts of the trailer.

But don’t take my word for it . . . . Judge for yourself:

Links: Trailer. Official site. Previous Post One. Previous Post Two. Previous Post Three. 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.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) 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