Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#151 Post by knives » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:47 pm

Why shouldn't the lines be read like that?

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#152 Post by John Shade » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:11 pm

This is the second Shakespeare thread where I've been stunned by the general (pun intended) dismissal of Othello--not just adaptations, but the play itself. Maybe I'm a traditionalist but I tend to think that Othello is very close to Hamlet as Shakespeare's greatest tragedy--making it for me (full Bardolatry) one of the greatest works of art in the world...

I'm not sure exactly where to begin with a defense of the play...but...Soft you, a word or two before you dismiss it fully...Anyway, is there a more purely poetic character in Shakespeare than Othello? Is there a greater villain in world literature than Iago? A more pitiful character than Desdemona? Some of you must think there are. Iago is like Hamlet with a dash of Satan, and he makes Milton's own Satan seem puny, while Othello is a more larger than life figure than Falstaff. End of defense part two.

Off to rewatch As You Like It and then a few versions of Macbeth for later in the week.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#153 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:11 pm

After rereading A Midsummer Night's Dream, I wasn't wild about any of my adaptation options, so I went with a film not eligible, Get Over It (Tommy O'Haver 2001)-- mainly because I'd somehow never heard of it before despite being a high schooler myself when it came out! The director clearly models his approach in the film on Savage Steve Holland, and like the output he's imitating, there's a lot of comic potential and good comic instincts in the filming that nevertheless fails to overcome the basic unfunniness of the material. Here we have a high school putting on a "rock update" of AMND, directed by Martin Short as... well, his character's actually a great Exhibit A of everything that works and doesn't work here, because he's all over the place. Sometimes Short is an egotistical 40-something guy pretending to be a teenager, but this is never consistent-- sometimes he dresses like a skater boi circa 2000 (and very accurately, puka shell necklace and all), but then elsewhere he dresses like a normal middle aged man. Okay. Sometimes he's absurdly supportive of his cast, then he'll vacillate to disdaining them. And so on, over and over. So, sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's not-- and folks, obviously Short is the best thing here, especially when the majority of the screentime is devoted to a love rectangle wherein Kirsten Dunst's impossibly perfect Helena portrayer moons over the oblivious Ben Foster as he tries to win back his ex who's left him for a quasi-British boy band member (a painful Shane West), all of whom are in the play. I did like the ending, wherein Foster's Lynsander rewrites the play on the fly so he ends up making out with Dunst, if only because this is probably one of the few acceptable reasons for radically revising Shakespeare. Oh, also, all 4'11 of Sisqo is in the cast for some reason, and Vitamin C (truly a "Only 90s Kids Will Remember" appearance) and Coolio also make appearances, to really bring home the peak 2001-ness of this all. So, while I can't say I got much appreciation for the play from this movie (and it seems like a REAL missed opportunity to cast none of the copious supporting characters as Bottom), I did also think one of the intentionally awful songs performed by the high schoolers on stage was probably onto something when the lyrics defended changing the story because "Shakespeare is dead and we're alive now" (or something like that), as this really does seem to be the approach of most of these revisionist takes, only this one's aware enough about it to lampshade it a bit!

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#154 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:21 am

Viola: In a way this is a more difficult film to unpack than Godard’s King Lear as Matías Piñeiro takes abstract routes in how he plays with Twelfth Night but remains within the confines of a story specific enough to demand analysis to the themes of the text. A metaphysical deconstruction of the play using narrative bleeding, as real life and art cross lines and characters engage in role playing with identity like a Rivette film with the philosophical density of dissecting values and perspective as Eustache by way of Rohmer in dialogue while characters breathe in feminine authenticity not far from Rozier but in smaller doses. We get superb cast of women (including Elisa Carricajo and Laura Paredes from La flor!) acting in a version of the play and then discussing their own takes on romance in real life.

Through exploring subjective value in the construction of meaning in interpersonal dynamics, the women debate the roots of their lenses as selfish, solipsistic, or authentic respectfully and with a light touch at first but venturing into serious moods seamlessly through smooth transitions like Rohmer and Eastache (and Rozier) do so well. Toying with the element of an identity switch that has consequences for the emotions of another in the play turns into an active experiment of testing various perspectives in the antecedents and signifiers of truth in romantic reciprocity outside the play. There’s a lot of playing around with variables that strangely works despite its complexity disrupted from constants or provisions for a clear framework. The narrative puzzle admittedly feels vague with only 60 minutes to sample its offerings, and I could’ve stood much more of this if only to grasp at additional information, but an inspiring hour it is, whether I fully comprehended all of the levels of operation or not. The way each of the women influence the other to act in accordance with their own perspectives on authenticity debunks the authenticity of the subject acting in accordance with her own will, and thus ironically produces a quest for the inauthentic through this solipsism disguised as genuine intentions. I love the long winded scene in the car where our subject of influence declares “how many times are you going to say ‘truly,’” unmasking the falsehoods of the process and hinting at a deeper understanding of the complicated subconscious barriers at work in socialization. The subsequent declaration that the literal advice is to do nothing, while the semantics of the delivery evokes another depth that ‘act of telling’ is also worth nothing, accentuates the stripped down meaninglessness inherent in Shakespeare’s own examination of these social systems and attempts at ‘knowing’ another that we place so much value and investment in accepting as truths.

Though it’s probably unfair in its simplicity to say, I came away feeling that what Godard achieves in existentialism through playing with technique, Piñeiro aims for in attention to a hazy area on the spectrum between social psychology and sociological observation through playing with narrative, and - like Godard - without grounding consistency in his tinkering, a confusing and unsettling choice that intentionally or not only aids the insecurity of the thematic reveal. In the end the idea of authenticity is accepted in its subjectivity, but disillusionment clearly remains blended with our subject and the idea of a ‘happy ending’ itself is exposed as a contrived mirage by forcing the heroine and the audience to hold opposing truths (the act of accepting subjective truth in one’s solipsistic lens as the path to happiness and the unnerving barely suppressed knowledge that objective truth is inaccessible due to the impossibility of true social harmony) hand in hand.

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Re: Shakespeare Adaptations Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#155 Post by ando » Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:35 am

knives wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:47 pm
Why shouldn't the lines be read like that?
Because when an actor doesn't relish the language the audience misses most of the fun! Shakespeare (as is obvious) was a poet, actor and playwright; his entire aim in writing for players on the stage was to communicate a feeling. The emotional impression was the whole point! When any actor is completely invested in the language - when it's actually in their bodies - an audience can't help but become involved. It's not a cerebral affair, contrary to widespread misconceptions. That's not to say that Shakespeare hasn't created cerebral characters; he has - but they're seldom embraced by an audience; their manipulation of other characters is where the intrigue lies in those instances. In any case, if actors are only invested in the language from the neck up in terms of delivery Shakespeare is reduced to an extravagant melodrama; the narrative drones in with nothing at stake for the actor - and nothing at stake for the audience.

In order to get to the point of risk you must delve into the language. Shakespeare does it for you. First of all, you have to pay attention to the iambic pentameter, but also line breaks, enjambments, alliteration, diphthongs... his grammar is actually the greatest tool for an actor. But when actor (or director) blithely spits out the language like some extended laundry list it's unbearable for attentive listeners not used to hearing his poetry and (especially) for those who know the plays. In his day people went to hear a play; it's the actual expression that was used. To throw that component out of a production of his work or to minimize or flatten it to the point of irrelevance is a waste of time, imo. Certainly a waste of mine. There are a million ways to be clever. Why fuck with Shakespeare? You just look like a sucker - he's always gonna be more clever than you.

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