Tuesday, January 20, 2009

John Mortimer, RIP

Will Shakespeare [a.k.a. Life of Shakespeare]. By John Mortimer. Perf. Tim Curry and Ian McShane. Dir. Mark Cullingham and Robert Knights. 1978. DVD. A & E Home Video, 2008.

R.I.P. stands for Rumpole in Peace. Yesterday, the author of the Rumpole of the Bailey books, numerous telescripts, and the 1978 Will Shakespeare, which starred Tim Curry as Shakespeare, died at his home.

Bardfilm's interest in him lies mainly in his authoring Will Shakespeare. In his honor, let's look at a thought-provoking scene from that miniseries.

In this section, Tim Curry plays William Shakespeare playing George, Duke of Clarence in Richard III. The scene opens with Clarence's dream about his own death. Backstage, the mother of a young and aspiring actor is dying of plague. In order to cheer him up (and to prevent him from reporting the death by plague, which would close the theatre), the company offers him everything at their disposal. All he wants, however, is to play Lady Anne:

The metatheatrical element is hard to miss: Sir John Mortimer takes the speech Shakespeare gave to Clarence foreshadowing Clarence's death to a character called Will Shakespeare who has given them to the Clarence that he himself plays. While that Clarence speaks, mortality is heavy in the air.

Links: The Film at IMDB.
Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

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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