Saturday, May 30, 2009

Star Trek and Sonnet 29

“The Measure of a Man.” By Melinda M. Snodgrass. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 9. Syndicated television. 13 February 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
Not long after the last quotation from a Shakespeare sonnet, The Next Generation returned with another. This time, the opening lines of Sonnet 29 give the characters the opportunity to contemplate the piece of work that is a man. The question in this episode is whether Data, an android, is the property of Star Fleet or whether he has autonomy. The character who reads the sonnet wants to take him apart to learn more about him; not unreasonably, Data has objected and announced his resignation from Star Fleet. But, once again, that's the surface level of the use of the sonnet here. Data, in attempting to become human, allows the other characters (and, of course, the audience) to think about what it means to be human. The rest of the sonnet (see below) is one way to answer that question.

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
    For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings  
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Links: A Gateway to Star Trek Information at Wikipedia.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Star Trek and Sonnet 18

“The Schizoid Man.” By Tracy Torme and Gene Roddenberry. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 6. Syndicated television. 23 January 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
Shakespeare's sonnets come up with surprising frequency in Star Trek episodes. Captain Kirk was forced to recite Sonnet 57; here, Captain Picard freely relates the closing couplet of Sonnet 18. In the episode, he does so to indicate the realization he's come to—that someone else's brain has been downloaded into Data's head (So long lives Data's head, it will give life to that second brain). Yeah, I know. Weird.

But that's only the ostensible meaning of the couplet in this context. The more significant part (and the part that's developing into an overarching thesis about Star Trek's Shakespeare use) is that Shakespeare's words allow humanity the opportunity to understand themselves better. In this imaginary, science fiction context, "So long lives this" is wrapped up in the futuristic setting. Shakespeare's words have lived this long; humanity will live this long, too.

Here's the clip; the full sonnet follows it.


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Links: A Gateway to Star Trek Information at Wikipedia.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One more Shakespeare Quote from a Q Episode

“Hide & Q.” By C. J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and John de Lancie. Dir. Cliff Bole. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, episode 10. Syndicated television. 23 November 1987. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
They always seem to quote from Shakespeare when Q shows up. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it may have to do with the idea that Q seeks to understand human nature—and who has more to say about the emotions and actions of human beings than Shakespeare?

At the end of "Hide and Q," an episode in which Picard and Q exchange Shakespeare quotes (for which, q.v.), Data gives us a brief quote from Polonius as a way of indicating why the crew wants to be who they are:

Polonius' speech to Laertes is awfully long-winded, but it concludes with those eminently-quotable lines—and the ones that must follow as the night the day: "And it must follow as the night the day / Thou canst not then be false to any man" (I.iii.79-80). Apparently, that bit of Polonius' advice is as applicable far in the future as it was in the past.

Bonus! Video clip of this Shakespeare quote!

Links: A Gateway to Star Trek Information at Wikipedia.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Animated Star Trek, Animated Shakespeare

“How Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth.” By Russell Bates and David Wise. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and George Takei. Dir. Bill Reed. Star Trek: The Animated Series. Season 2, episode 5. NBC. 5 October 1974. DVD. Paramount, 2006.

We leave behind The Original Series for the time being, planning to return to it later to examine a few plot similarities between it and various Shakespeare plays.

Our next stop is at a place I didn’t even know existed—at least, not until I spotted it at our local library about two years ago: Star Trek: The Animated Series!

The only Shakespeare reference that I noticed in the series is both a title reference and a quote. The episode itself is mainly forgettable. An ancient Aztec alien returns to earth to see how his children are getting along, and he finds that they don’t need him anymore. Hence the aptness of the title and the quote. Because the reference is so brief, I’m not including a clip; however, I offer these subtitled screen shots for your edification:

Links: A Gateway to Star Trek Information at Wikipedia.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Star Trek Sonnet 57

“Plato’s Stepchildren.” By Meyer Dolinsky. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, Michael Dunn, Barbara Babcock, Liam Sullivan, Ted Scott, Derek Partridge, and William Blackburn. Dir. David Alexander. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 10. NBC. 22 November 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2008.
Late in its run, The Original Series turned to the sonnets, giving inspiration and helpful hints to Poetry Slam Participants the world over (the trick is to crawl on your stomach, acting as if every word is being forced from your body against your will).

That's what's happening to Captain Kirk, anyway. The bad guy wants to be entertained, and he's able to force Kirk to recite Shakespeare sonnets—or, to be precise, at least Sonnet 57. Take a look at that section first (other sections will be inserted below).

Here's the sonnet in question:

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought
Save, where you are how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love that in your will,
Though you do any thing, he thinks no ill.
Before you complain that Kirk's delivery isn't absolutely top-notch, look at the act he's following:

Yep, that's Mr. Spock, smiling! He hasn't smiled since the pilot episode! And what's that he's saying / reciting (together with Captain Kirk)?
I'm Tweedledee; he's Tweedledum:
Two spacemen marching to a drum.
We slith among the mimsey toves
And gyre among the borogoves.
My goodness. That's even worse than the "Very bad poetry" that Mr. Spock critiqued when they met the witches! Even a crawling, forced delivery of Sonnet 57 will be better than that!

But, I suppose, there is some interest in Kirk's choice of sonnet (or is it the bad guy's choice?): "Being your slave" catches up the idea of how foolish it is to think that, whatever the beloved may do, it cannot be ill. Perhaps there's something, too, in the fact that Kirk doesn't complete the quatrain, breaking off before the final word. But maybe that's just Dr. McCoy's interruption.

For those of you who would like to see the complete sequence, here are the two parts put back together:

Links: A Gateway to Star Trek Information at Wikipedia.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Shakespeare and Star Trek: The Revenge of the Bard!

“Catspaw.” By Robert Bloch. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, Antoinette Bower, Theo Marcuse, Michael Barrier, and Eddie Paskey. Dir. Joseph Pevney. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 7. NBC. 27 October 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2008.
Some time ago, Bardfilm had a series of posts on the integration of Shakespeare and Star Trek. I attempted to be complete, but I soon discovered a number of gaps in my coverage. I apologize.

Fortunately, I intend to fill those gaps with another series of posts—a series that will culminate in one gigantic post containing The Complete Works of Shakespeare in Star Trek!

For the record, I learned of some of these gaps from other lists (for example, this one), but many of these are my own discoveries.

The earliest gap to fill (chronologically-speaking) is a possible allusion to Macbeth (rather than a direct reference to any play) in The Original Series. Here, Bones, Spock, and Kirk have landed on The Planet of the Scary Things, and they (like Macbeth and Banquo) are met by three witches:

As I said, it's much more of an allusion than a quotation, but I think there's a connection that involves more than just the number of witches. One thing is the "Very bad poetry" noted by Mr. Spock.

The witches, in addition to saying "Go back . . . remember the curse" any other scary things, close with these lines:
"Winds shall rise, and fog descend.
So leave here all or meet your end.
Mr. Spock's assessment isn't far off. And that's the key to connecting this with Macbeth. There are segments of "very bad poetry" in Shakespeare's play—mostly given to the witches, and mostly not written by Shakespeare. For example, this speech Hecate makes is frequently said to be a non-Shakespearean interpolation:
                          How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call'd to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
The Star Trek witches' bad couplet is quite as bad as any one of these!

Links: A Gateway to Star Trek Information at Wikipedia.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Great River Shakespeare Festival—Opening in One Month!

Love's Labour's Lost. Dir. Paul Mason Barnes. Perf. Doug Scholz-Carlson, Chris Mixon, Andrew Carlson, Brian Frederick, Christopher Gerson, Evan Fuller, Tarah Flanagan, Shanara Gabrielle, Katy Mazzola, Nikki Rodenburg, Michael Fitzpatrick, David Rudi Utter, Eva Balastrieri, Jeremy van Meter, Jonathan Gillard Daly, David Coral, Nick Demeris, Katie Bowler, Moira Marek, Duncan Halleck, Theo Morgan, Ceci Bernard, Chris Bernard, and Mitchell Essar. Great River Shakespeare Festival. Winona, Minnesota. 2009.
The Tempest. Dir. Alec Wild. Perf. Eva Balistrieri, Andrew Carlson, David Coral, Nick Demeris, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Michael Fitzpatrick, Tarah Flanagan, Brian David Frederick, Evan Fuller, Shanara Gabrielle, Christopher Gerson, Kate Mazzola, Chris Mixon, Doug Scholz-Carlson, Nicole Rodenburg, David Rudi Utter, Jeremy van Meter, and Tessa Wild. Great River Shakespeare Festival. Winona, Minnesota. 2009.

Be certain to include a trip to Winona, Minnesota in your summer plans, and make sure that your trip occurs between Friday, June 26 and Sunday, July 26. That month—that royal month of kings, that scepter'd month, that other Eden, demi-paradise, that blessed month—that month is the month of the Great River Shakespeare Festival. Every time we've gone (this will be, I believe, our third time), we've been stunned by the magnificence of the productions.  

This year, they're giving us The Tempest and Love's Labour's Lost.  I'm not sure who's playing in each—my cast list above is more hopeful than anything else (though I'll let you know who's playing what—and who's directing what—when I know it myself)—but I'm certain that this year's season will be, once again, a thing of beauty and a joy forever.  Or at least for that month.

Head to the GRSF website to get your tickets!  
Links: The Great River Shakespeare Festival.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shakespeare-Related Young Adult Fiction

Broach, Elise. Shakespeare's Secret. New York: Square Fish, 2007.

Although I'm still partial to King of Shadows (for which, q.v.), I recently read a good Shakespeare-related novel for young adults. If you're an anti-Stratfordian, you'll like it. It's very heavy on the Oxfordian side. Of course, if you're an Oxfordian, you probably don't need any more encouragement, and you really ought to take a very careful look at the logic of your argument and the data available that will undermine your position.

But Bardfilm digresses. 

Apart from the usual presentation of the anti-Stratfordian position (which itself is erroneous, illogical, and irrational in places), Shakespeare's Secret is very well written. A diamond missing from a sixteenth-century broach (was it stolen by someone who knew it was there . . . or by its own owner, who collected the insurance money?) is at the center of this adventure story. Its protagonist is named Hero (her older sister is named Beatrice), and her father is an amiable Shakespeare scholar (though one who has imbibed too much of the Oxfordian position). It's a good book.

However, I can't recommend it without reservation—because a much better book is readily-available. Fortunately, it's by the same author.

Broach, Elsie. Masterpiece. Illus. Kelly Murphy. New York: Henry Holt, 2008.

Masterpiece is brilliant. It's not Shakespeare-related, but it should be recognized as marvelous nonetheless. It's the story of a boy and a beetle, and the beetle turns out to be a natural genius in pen-and-ink sketches. Eventually, the boy (they think he's doing the drawing) is commissioned to forge a drawing by Albrecht Dürer so that the art thieves can steal it instead of the genuine drawing. If I say any more, I'll give away some marvelous things. You should read this book at least—and you should give it to everyone you know, especially those with children. Even those as young as six or seven will be delighted to have you read either of these books out loud.

Although you may need to temper Shakespeare's Secret with a few lectures on the virtues of the Stratfordian position; the mantra "William Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare" is a good starting place.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

In conclusion, another kind of Macbeth

Scotland, PA. Dir. Billy Morrissette. Perf. James LeGros, Maura Tierney, and Christopher Walken. 2001. DVD. Sundance, 2005.

We at Bardfilm have spent a considerable amount of time studying the dagger speech in a number of different productions—both adaptations and derivatives. Before we move on to a new subject, let's take a brief look at another derivative version of Macbeth.

In the darkly-comic Scotland, PA, the plot is no longer about taking over a kingdom. Instead, it's about taking over a fast-food restaurant. The reduction of the prize (even though there's potential for the burger joint to grow into an earth-striding colossus) is part of the comedy, but there are other points. Observe the trailer for the film:

I'm afraid there's not really an equivalent to the dagger speech itself, but the film, on the whole, is successful.

The film does have a considerable amount of uncouth language (or, at least, language that is less-than-couth), and a fair amount of violence. Forewarned is forearmed!

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from
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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