Sunday, December 14, 2008

Notorious W.S.

Free Enterprise. Dir. Robert Meyer Burnett. Perf. William Shatner, Eric McCormack, and Audie England. 1998. DVD. Anchor Bay, 2006.

I would genuinely feel remiss in my Bardfilm duties if I didn't point you toward William Shatner's rap version of Mark Anthony's speech, cunningly entitled "No Tears for Caesar." It comes from a film cunningly entitled Free Enterprise, in which William Shatner plays the character of William Shatner—a William Shatner who, like that more famous (literarily speaking) W.S., is interested in putting the story of Julius Caesar on stage. The difference is that this version is performed entirely in rap.

For your convenience in doing a comparative analysis, I'm also providing in this post the version presented by The Cosby Show, which I've written about here. Please vote for the one you like best in the comments below!

P.S. The original title of this post was "Rapmaster J.C." But I realized that "Rapmaster M.A." would be more appropriate. But that didn't sound right. So I tried "M.A., M.C." or "M.C. M.A." They were too obscure or sounded like I was granting degrees to Mark Anthony. I finally decided on "Notorious W.S." as an interesting title with a rap allusion and ambiguity as to the antecedent of W.S.—Shakespeare scholars are sure to drool over that. Perhaps "A Funeral Elegy by W.S." should be attributed to the Shatner W.S. and not to the Shakespeare W.S.

Links: The Show at IMDB. The film at IMDB.

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Anonymous said...

Theo and Cockroach get my vote. The point of their creative adaptation is to show they grasp the meaning of Mark Anthony's speech, which they do rendering it in the native idiom of rap) or at least a G-rated facsimile thereof).

kj said...

But there's an authenticity to the other—both in terms of fidelity to the language and fidelity to the genre of rap.

(Here I am, arguing for the greater authenticity of William Shatner's rap stylings.)

Thanks, E.M.P. for the good points.


Alex Bledsoe said...

Since Antony's speech is directly inspired by his observation that "passion, I see, is catching," a rap version would be ideal to fire up an audience. But like KJ, I give the nod to Shatner as well, though, for working with so much of the original text.

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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