Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shakespeare in Clueless

Clueless. Dir. Amy Heckerling. Perf. Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd, and Brittany Murphy. 1995. DVD. Paramount , 2005.

Clueless is better known for its connections to Jane Austen than its Shakespeare references; however, one of the means it uses to convey the plot of Emma is Shakespeare.

I detected two Shakespeare allusions in my admittedly-hurried glance through the film, and they're the most telling for the way they contrast. In the first, the Cher Horowitz / Emma Woodhouse character rightly recognizes lines from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 as "famous"—but doesn't attribute them to Shakespeare. By the time, much later in the film, that the second allusion comes along, Cher / Emma has grown—and the male lead starts to recognize something more in her thereby:

That Mel Gibson provides her with this ability to recognize what the character of Hamlet said or didn't say is immaterial—she has the knowledge, and she's able to employ it. And it's also a good sign that she attributes the quote to "that Polonius guy" instead of "that Ian Holm guy."

Links: The Film 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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