Monthly Archives: April 2013

Political Propaganda

I can never think of Shakespeare’s Richard III except as political propaganda.  I have an evolving theory about the princes in the Tower, and about Lord Hastings’ head on the block, and why Henry VIII was so profligate– but it would spoil the play.  I would suggest, after enjoying the play, a little research–Clements Robert Markham’s Richard III: His Life & Character Reviewed in the light of recent research is an excellent book in my very unqualified opinion.  Also the book is free on the Kindle.

I have so far seen two versions of Shakespeare’s Richard III, the made-for-TV BBC production in An Age of Kings, and then Laurence Olivier’s Richard III.  Each has its own merits, and overall I must perforce admit the BBC’s production the better, in sets, directing, and other such dry things that went into making Richard live again for a span.  Then again, Olivier’s Richard has the far better acting.  For one moment, as Richard is muttering to himself, you may very well think that Olivier really is a wicked, scheming wretch of a king.  On the other hand, the BBC version is a better deal, and so has the upper hand.

Enjoy!

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(Hopefully) Learn to Love Shakespeare in One Week

This week I’ll review various Shakespeare DVDS and point out their various merits and drawbacks.  I’ll begin with my favorite of all Shakespeare’s plays, Henry V

Personally, I believe Laurence Olivier’s Henry V  is the paragon of all the various editions of Shakespeare’s work— thrilling and yet serious, humorous and also stern.  Olivier really seems to show “The vasty fields of France”, and to “Cram, within this wooden O, the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt”.

The scenery is very carefully set up, the costumes are of scarcely unsurpassed excellence, but most important of all, the acting and directing are both supreme.  Olivier is a marvelous Henry, and the famed St. Crispian’s day speech is extant in its full glory.

There is another edition I’ve seen, part of the BBC’s An Age of Kings (thirty-five dollars for a black-and-white five disc set).  This Henry V is better in some particulars— King Henry is funnier, and somewhat fierier, but not quite as good an actor as Olivier.

The next post in this week-long series tomorrow!

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