Tag Archives: Shakespeare on DVD

Et Tu, Brute? Then Die Caesar…

I suppose that Julius Caesar is a tragedy; I would classify it as a history, myself, but for those incidents in which almost all of the major characters die upon their own swords.  Tragedy it is, then.

This is obviously quite a violent play- although less so than many modern shows.  The play rather puts me in mind of Richard III, badly done, and ending in the (recently disinterred) king putting an end to himself.

While this one has many memorable lines, to me, I who love fair lyricism and lilting speech, prefer other, more, ah, not alliterative plays, per se, but you might say less hard-boiled than this.  Personal preference.

I’ve only seen the full-length BBC version of this, from the eighties, and that was quite good; a good library ought to have it, or be able to request it.

Enjoy!

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A Very, Very, – Bloodbath

I managed to irritate the librarian the other day (she’d have been infuriated if she wasn’t such a nice lady) by sending back an inter-library loaner.  She was quite right, too— I’d requested Titus Andronicus, taken it out, and brought it back, unwatched, within twenty-four hours.

I had but looked at the listing of scenes within the case to realize that a lady oughtn’t to watch it.  Murder, cannibalism, improper advances— why watch it?

They do say (scholars say, and we all know what they’re like) that Titus is one of Shakespeare’s earlier works.  I looked up a copy of it, to read, and they seem to have pegged it right for a change.  Shakespeare’s diction has not the scintillating brilliance that his later works are wonted to have; not even worthy of Henry VI (which I believe he stole), with its “Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky, And with them scourge the bad revolting stars”.

Therefore, until I get to the Histories, I simply respectfully ask you to try Shakespeare’s Hamlet as the best example of the Bard’s work.

Enjoy!

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Othello

It’s almost odd how I dislike Othello.  It almost has so many of my favorite things: Cyprus (there are some rattling tales to be told about those wars), battles, and galleons (at least I think they were, though they aren’t shown).

As it does fall out, it has a tantalizing background whilst a psycho-drama plays out in the foreground.  Then, too, there is rather more of coarse language in this play; drinking too, and a rather memorable drunk.  I somehow feel that this won’t go over well with many people; and after all, everyone knows, these days, that Falstaff is the funniest and most memorable toper that the Bard ever created.

Therefore, if you were only going to pick one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, I wouldn’t recommend this one; even Laurence Olivier’s version is dreadful.

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Mastering the Master; or, Five Weeks in a Wooden O

The newest series on Literary Profferings shall consist of discussions of or essays on each of Shakespeare’s plays; that is, those in the accepted canon (First Folio plays &c).  The order of these shall be tragical, comical, historical, pastoral … I mean tragedies, comedies, and then histories.

MACBETH

A drum! A drum! Macbeth doth come!

The paradox inherent in the situation, as the prophecies of Macbeth’s own actions drawing him on to perform these actions, begs one to find the intended catalyst of the play.  That is to say, did the Bard intend to imply that fate drives us?  I instantly discard this theory (please disregard my pedantic voice here), as you can see Macbeth see-sawing back and forth as he makes his (bad) decisions.

Dusty determinism debates aside, Macbeth is really a frightening play.  The three weird sisters, the murders piling up; I have found that even Titus Andronicus is less overpowering.

The ambiguous ending, where Fleance doesn’t become king (nor is this anywhere explained) is quite irritating, though if you look it up (I tried Wikipedia), you see that it was a reference to King James’ bloodlines; hence the “king” bit.

It’s certainly well worth the watching, of course, and what I recommend is having a look on Amazon’s website to see which DVD version looks best to you; or asking the librarian for help.  Then I would try getting the version of your choice through inter-library loan if your library doesn’t have it— and if you like it, then buy it.  Cheaper that way…

And, if you want to read it, there was no free Kindle version last time I looked; however, used-book bookstores should have a cheap copy if you don’t mind wear and tear.

Enjoy!

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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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