Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shakespearean Tashlikh

Eckstein, Yechiel. How Firm a Foundation: A Gift of Jewish Wisdom for Christians and Jews. Brewster: Paraclete, 1997.

Rosh Hashanah began at sunset yesterday. It's the beginning of the Jewish Year; the High Holy Days begin on Rosh Hashanah.

One particularly significant and moving ceremony practiced during Rosh Hashanah is Tashlikh. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein articulates it well:
On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we perform theTashlikh ceremony in which we throw bread crumbs or stones into a running body of water such as a river or spring, and symbolically cast off our sins into the water and begin life anew. . . . Today . . . Tashlikh is completely accepted and widely viewed as symbolic of the freedom from sin we can enjoy when we repent and trust in God's miracle of forgiveness. In the words of the prophet recited in the Tashlikh liturgy, "Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19). (104)
I mentioned this to a Shakespeare class on Rosh Hashanah some three years ago, not expecting too much to come of it besides expansion of knowledge. But a student took the idea to heart, filled his pockets until they bulged with stones, found a creek here on campus, and cast the stones into it. He walked away with his pockets and his soul lighter than they had been.

What has this to do with Shakespeare? Well, I'd like to bring Shakespeare and Tashlikh together in a Shakespearean Tashlikh ceremony in which I invite you all—whatever you faith—to participate. 

Gather some rocks—literal or figurative or some combination of the two will do. [My own are in the image above—a photograph of the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee taken during our trip to Israel this summer. Seemed appropriate.] Then, with your imagination or a marker, write the name of a character from Shakespeare on each. As I did so, I considered the sins of each—and I considered how guilty I am of the same sin. I am guilty of the jealousy of Othello in looking at others' more successful blogs. And I'm guilty of the sin of Iago in inciting myself to that jealousy. You get the idea. I don't want to detail the other sins of which I am guilty in such a public setting!

Now—throw those rocks into a body of water. Repent of the sins they represent, and turn from them.  Trust that those sins have been forgiven.

And, with your pockets empty of characters from Shakespeare, walk away with a light heart and a cleansed conscience.

L'shanah tovah tikatevu v'taychataymu! 

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!

Links: Tashlikh at Wikipedia. Rosh Hashanah at Judaism 101.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Skeptical . . . but Willing

Reed, John, ed. All the World's a Grave. New York: Penguin, 2008.

I received a e-mail promoting this book, and I'm farily skeptical. Then again, there are some big names offering commentary on it. Ian McKellan's blurb, though it tends to damn with faint praise (or to praise with faint damns), does call it "original":
I couldn’t quite believe All the World’s A Grave: such an original idea. The verbal parallels it plays with are intriguing and certainly have merit in pointing out that Shakespeare did repeat situations and ideas throughout his plays.

                            --Ian McKellan
All the same, I'm willing to give it a try. I'll let you know what I think.

Links: The book's website.

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


Friday, September 26, 2008

Not-So-Silent Hamlet

Hamlet: The Drama of Vengeance [Hamlet: Ein Rachedrama]. Dir. Svend Gade. Perf. Asta Neilsen. 1920. Videocassette. Sunland Video, n.d.

Durante, Jimmmy. "Who will be with you when I'm so far away?" The Great Schnozzle. Asv Living Era, 1998.

I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist posting this. In inserting English title cards, I'm finding it necessary to change the sound track. This is an experiment that puts a completly-inappropriate soundtrack onto a clip from the film. It actually works pretty well!

Clip Removed for being too, too silly. 

Thank you. 

—Bardfilm's Management.

Thanks, Jimmy Durante, for the lovely song. And goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Links: The Film at IMDB. N.B.: IMDB lists the date as 1921, but all the scholarly sources I checked—Rothwell, Sammons, et cetera—list 1920 as the date.

"The rest . . . is . . . Silen[t Hamlet]."

Hamlet: The Drama of Vengeance [Hamlet: Ein Rachedrama]. Dir. Svend Gade. Perf. Asta Neilsen. 1920. Videocassette. Sunland Video, n.d.
A forthcoming post will provide much more about this film—I'm adding English translations of the German title cards to a section of this film, and it's a time-consuming process . . . and it's not that I have a lot of time to consume right now, either!

This silent, German film version of Hamlet starts at the birth of the young prince. Actually, to be more accurate, it starts at the birth of the young princess! In this production, Hamlet is not only played by a woman, he is a woman. For reasons of state, the announcement of Hamlet's birth declares her to be a boy: the male heir to the throne.

Naturally, I'll have more to say later. Consider this a teaser for future posts.
Links: The Film at IMDB. N.B.: IMDB lists the date as 1921, but all the scholarly sources I checked—Rothwell, Sammons, et cetera—list 1920 as the date.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Strange Derivative of Hamlet

Strange Illusion. Dir. Edgar G. Ulmer. Perf. Jimmy Lydon, Paul Cartwright, Warren William, Sally Eilers, Regis Toomey, and Charles Arnt. 1945. Alpha Video, 2004.

While looking over the extensive range of materials related to Hamlet I've collected over the years, I came across this film. It has been a while since I watched this odd, film noir-esque derivative of Hamlet, and I'd forgotten just how odd it is. Here's the beginning—it's what we see immediately after the opening credits:

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Patrick Stewart's Prospero

“Episode 1.6.” By Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Perf. Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Ashley Jensen, and Patrick Stewart. Dir. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Extras. Season 1, episode 6. BBC / HBO. 25 August 2005. DVD. Universal Pictures Video, 2007.

Some time ago, I mentioned the brief glimpse Extras gave us into Patrick Stewart as Prospero. Through the offices of my local library, I tracked down a copy of the show and am pleased to present a brief moment into this imagined production of The Tempest.

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

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