Friday, May 24, 2013

Minor but Persistent Shakespeare Use in Warm Bodies: A Novel

Marion, Isaac. Warm Bodies: A Novel. New York: Atria Books, 2011.

Zombie stories are anathema to me. I do not understand the recent acceleration in the production of Zombie-related books, games, and films. Sure, I watched the trailer for Zombie Hamlet (for which, q.v.), and I even watched Romeo and Juliet vs. The Living Dead in its entirety (for which, q.v.), but I just am not on the same zombie page as the Zombophiles seem to be.

Yet the recent release of the film Warm Bodies led to huge number of Zombinorata—largely college students—urging me to see it and to think about its connections to Romeo and Juliet.  "The Zombie protagonist's name is 'R,'" they would cry, "and his beloved—who is not a zombie—is named Julie."  Then, as if to clinch the argument, they would add, "There's even a balcony scene."

I haven't yet seen the film (I will have to, of course, once the DVD is released), but I've been shambling, zombie-like, through the novel on which the film is based, and I've finally finished it.

I don't like it. I don't like the rules of the zombie universe or the details of brain eating. I don't like the creepy horror elements.

But this is a great book. If you are into zombie narratives, this book will knock you sideways. The prose is strong and interesting and the characters are intriguing.

And, yes, the novel has its balcony scene. I've scanned in an image of the relevant pages (click on the image below to enlarge it), and there's very clearly a direct connection to Romeo and Juliet's balcony scene.  Note: The selection below contains some obscenities.

Pages 126-27.

The equivalent of Juliet's speech has its own kind of charm:
I miss R! I know that's crazy, but is it really that crazy? Just because he's . . . whatever he is? I mean, isn't "zombie" just a silly name we came up with for a state of being we don't understand? What's in a name, right? (127)
If you're liking the zombie trend—if you are, as @JohnDranski might say, a "Zombudsman"—try the book. If, like me, you're over-saturated with zombies, thank me for reading it so you didn't have to!

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bottom the Weaver's Guest Appearance in Royal Pains

“Bottom’s Up.” By Carol Flint & Simran Baidwan. Perf. Jake Weber, Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Jill Flint, Reshma Shetty, Brooke D'Orsay, and Campbell Scott. Dir. Tricia Brock. Royal Pains. Season 3, episode 14. USA Network.  8 February 2012.  DVD.  Paramount, 2008.

Certainly, the Pyramus and Thisbe scene in A Midsummer Night's Dream is meant to be terrible. But is it meant to be this terrible?

To be fair, the actor playing the actor playing Bottom (the repetition is necessary and intentional there) plays Bottom's role with great gusto. But everything else that frames that performance is just Soap Opera Awful (SOA). Take a gander and you'll understand:

Links: The Show's Episode List at IMDB.

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the Season Three, Part Two DVD 
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Hamlet in Monty Python’s Flying Circus

“Hamlet.” By Monty Python et al. Perf. Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Connie Booth, and Eric Idle. Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Season 4, episode 4. BBC. 21 November 1974. DVD. New Video, 1999.

I've commented before on the notion that the British Comedy Troupe Monty Python has a relative scarcity of Shakespeare-related material. Of course, there is the Underwater Measure for Measure sketch—and the sketch that includes something of Shakespeare's biography—and, naturally, the optional Shakespearean subtitles to Monty Python and the Holy Grail (more can be found here)—and the one about the Overactors Hospital—and, finally, Julius Caesar on an Aldis Lamp. But there's not much beyond that.

When I wrote on those points of convergence between the comedy troupe and Shakespeare, I knew about the episode entitled “Hamlet”—but I didn't like it very much. It descends into crudity and obscenity far too often and far too quickly.

Still, I felt Bardfilm was letting its public down by not noting the episode. In the clip below, I've expurgated the naughty bits, leaving in three key points: Hamlet on the psychiatrist's couch, two ladies suddenly and inexplicably quoting from Hamlet, and the end of the episode, with its Shakespeare-related credits. Enjoy, Bardfilm's public!

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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all the Monty Python’s Flying Circus there ever was 
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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