Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sons of Anarchy, Sons of Yorick

“Pilot.” By Kurt Sutter. Perf. Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone, Jr., and Kim Coates. Dir. Allen Coulter and Michael Dinner. Sons of Anarchy. Season 1, episode 1. FX. 3 September 2008. DVD. Twentieth Century Fox, 2009.

Sons of Anarchy is not my cup of tea (which expression decidedly shows that it's not my cup of tea), but I'm informed that it is something of a Shakespeare derivative.

Because I'm not particularly fond of violent biker shows, I haven't watched this—nor do I intend to. But feel free to do so yourselves. If you do, you may be able to confirm Wikipedia's current claim:
The family drama is loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet; indeed, star Ron Perlman has said, "I'm sure they’re going to stick to the structure of Hamlet all the way to the end" of the series. Clay is based on the role of King Claudius and Gemma as a Gertrude figure. Jax stands in for Prince Hamlet himself. Jax's reflective questioning of the SOA culture, brought on by the birth of his son, references Hamlet's melancholy over the death of the king. Additionally, Jax "communicates" with his dead father by way of his late father's unpublished journal/manuscript; Hamlet, of course, literally communicates with the ghost of his father. The drama and characterizations are also enhanced by drawing on Macbeth, another Shakespeare tragedy. Katey Sagal's Gertrude-like Gemma resembles Lady Macbeth because—while it is never entirely clear from Hamlet how complicit Queen Gertrude is in the murder of Hamlet's father—it is obvious that Gemma has willingly participated in the cover-up of the death and may even have encouraged Clay in his treachery. Creator Sutter has said of the Shakespeare element, "I don't want to overplay that but it's there. It was Jax's father who started the club, so he's the ghost in the action. You wonder what he would have made of the way it turned out. It's not a version of Hamlet but it's definitely influenced by it."

In the 9th episode of season 2, Clay makes a possible reference to Hamlet when he states "I'll handle the little prince", a reference to Jax. In the next episode, Jax is again referred to as "the prince", this time by Agent Stahl.
Let me know how that works out, will you?

Links: The Show 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.
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