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***Official Ye Auld Shakespeare Thread: The Bard (1 Viewer)

Eephus

Footballguy
In honor of the upcoming Amazon presentation of King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins, why not a thread about the most famous writer in the English language. :shrug:

Shakespeare was a prolific author so there are a lot of plays and poems.  He explored timeless themes so there are hundreds of filmed versions and adaptations.

 
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I'm going to start with Lear because the version with Hopkins comes out on Sept 28th.  Based on the trailer, it's a modern dress adaptation but I don't know how closely it sticks to the text.  It's a great story with lots of blood, guts, wind, rain and fury.  Lear is a consummate role for an aging actor and Hopkins at 80 should bring plenty of gravitas to the role.

If you're not familiar with the story or historic context of Lear, Amazon also has the season of the PBS series "Shakespeare Uncovered" where Lear is discussed.  There's also a 30 minute Slate podcast covering similar ground. 

I'm probably going to wait until Friday for the Hopkins version but two modern takes on the same story are Kurosawa's "Ran" and the 2002 film "King of Texas".   The latter is an Old West adaptation starring Patrick Stewart as the proprietor of the Lear Ranch. 

 
I'm going to start with Lear because the version with Hopkins comes out on Sept 28th.  Based on the trailer, it's a modern dress adaptation but I don't know how closely it sticks to the text.  It's a great story with lots of blood, guts, wind, rain and fury.  Lear is a consummate role for an aging actor and Hopkins at 80 should bring plenty of gravitas to the role.

If you're not familiar with the story or historic context of Lear, Amazon also has the season of the PBS series "Shakespeare Uncovered" where Lear is discussed.  There's also a 30 minute Slate podcast covering similar ground. 

I'm probably going to wait until Friday for the Hopkins version but two modern takes on the same story are Kurosawa's "Ran" and the 2002 film "King of Texas".   The latter is an Old West adaptation starring Patrick Stewart as the proprietor of the Lear Ranch. 
Is this going to be an Amazon movie or presented over multiple episodes?  I'm definitely in, but won't be able to get to it for a week or two.

 
Is this going to be an Amazon movie or presented over multiple episodes?  I'm definitely in, but won't be able to get to it for a week or two.
IMDB lists it at 115 min which seems on the short side.

By comparison, the 2008 Royal Shakespeare Company version with Ian McKellan clocks in at 156 min.

 
IMDB lists it at 115 min which seems on the short side.

By comparison, the 2008 Royal Shakespeare Company version with Ian McKellan clocks in at 156 min.
Amazon Prime also has the Russian versions of King Lear and Hamlet.  These look sensational with incredible production values that big budget Soviet-era films are renowned for.   The Amazon version have a bizarre English language dub on top of the original Russian soundtrack so they're pretty much unwatchable.  Fortunately, there are HD copies on YouTube if subtitled Russian language Shakespeare is your thing.

ETA:  the storm scene (Lear Act III, scene 2) is worth a look

 
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In addition to the Hopkins movie, there's also another version of Lear that's being broadcast to US theaters this Thursday.  It stars Ian McKellen who's returned to the role on the London stage this year.

 
The genius of Shakespeare really shines in the words and phrases he coined that are still commonplace today. He took verbs and made them nouns, nouns and made them verbs, two nouns and made another noun, etc. There's just a creative practicality, I guess you'd call it resourcefulness, in using what is given to you to create something more. I've always felt inspired by it.

 
Macbeth 2018 looks terrible. I’m sure I won’t see it. I think the entire movie was shot in front of a green screen. 
There's a 2010 BBC version of the Scottish Play on Amazon starring Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood.  It looks like it was filmed in a bunker.  The staging looks incredible.

 
hagmania said:
The genius of Shakespeare really shines in the words and phrases he coined that are still commonplace today. He took verbs and made them nouns, nouns and made them verbs, two nouns and made another noun, etc. There's just a creative practicality, I guess you'd call it resourcefulness, in using what is given to you to create something more. I've always felt inspired by it.
This is what i love about Shakespeare - the furies of invention in his words.

I stopped paying attention in school when i was 11 and, while i am a ravenous learner when my imagination is captured, i am very uncomfortable when i have to slow myself down to understand something. As a result, i have blind spots and Shakespeare was one of them.

But, when i moved to Reno in the 80s, there was a wonderful outdoor theater @ Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe and they'd stage 2-3 Shakespeare plays each summer. With a babe & a blanket & a basket of picnicables & a bottle or two of wine under god's canopy, even an illiterate iijitt t could enjoy the largely unintelligible poesy of the Bard. But the distractions, combined with the semipro performances, did not improve my comprehension, much as the odd turn of phrase would slap my face with their originality, even hundreds of years later.

Then, one of my earliest projects when i used trying to write something important to make it through my new widowerhood 20 yrs ago required that i appropriate some scenes from The Tempest and that was the first time i read a Shakespeare play. Even then i needed help getting the rhythm of it.

Fortunately, the late 90s were filled with movies - McKellen's Richard III, Branagh's Hamlet, Pacino's Looking for Richard, Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night, even Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet that sought to democratize the Bard, mostly by naturalizing the delivery of the words.

Then, the best book on the written word i ever read, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom came out and finally got me to see what the fuss was all about. Unfortunately, by the time i'd reached some understanding of the whole thing, i lived in Albuquerque and found that those movies had spoiled me for amateur productions ("As You Like It, Homes"?) as much as the wine & hormones had at Lake Tahoe. I've watched all the old Olivier and Welles movies (Orson's patching of the Falstaff story from the history plays, Chimes at Midnight is my favorite) and will be anxious to see a definitive King Lear on film (maybe if the theater in Rutland that shows all those "live" broadcasts of operas & plays & Monty Python reunions shows it, i'll do it in style).  But I have yet to see a live Bard play in earnest at a decent venue with the new standing to comprehend it i now have as an old man. It's high on my bucket list, though traveling is difficult these days.

And now it's even in the family. My movie-director cousin's baby sister Kathleen, a 3-time Tony winner as a director/choreographer herself, can't get a theater to book any of her shows (a musicalization of the movie Diner with songs by Sheryl Crow, a historically-accurate revival  of Meredith Wilson's of Unsinkable Molly Brown, etc) because jukebox musicals are crowding everything out, so she has taken her act on the road. Now that her kids are old enough to travel, she books guest-emeritus directing gigs wherever they want to summer. Though her dad was an English Lit professor, we didn't know she had it in her but, in 2016, she directed "Love's Labour Lost" at the Globe Theater in San Diego (probably the best theater west of the Great White Way) and "Much Ado About Nothing" this summer just ended. She's gotten great notices for each, so maybe she can get back to Broadway that way.

That's my goal now - for my first real, live Shakespeare to be seeing one staged by my cousin PeeWee (i still call her that, even tho she's in her 50s now). That play will be the thing, playahs!

 
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I studied in England for half-a-year of high school in the mid-80s. One of our classes involved seeing all the Royal Shakespeare Company plays that season. It was an unbelievable lineup. I saw:

Henry V starring Kenneth Branagh, with Pete Postlethwaite

Hamlet starring Roger Rees (became Robin Colcord on Cheers), Branagh as Laertes 

Richard III starring Anthony Sher, who was absolutely incredible, but never became much of a movie star. Also had Brian Blessed, who I was a big fan of thanks to his performance as King of the Hawk Men in the Flash Gordon movie. 

Most incredible of all was a performance in As You Like It, as this one actor actually made Shakespearean comedy LOL funny. It was Alan Rickman, as the melancholy clown, Jacques. Even in that mope of role, Rickman was the guy you couldn't take your eyes off, the one you wanted to hear talk. I found this essay by a guy who went on to become a Shakespeare professor after seeing that same performance. 

 
Obviously the tragedies like Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet are highly regarded and rightly so but I'd like to give a shout to a comedy.  A Midsummer Night's Dream, also great.

Also props to A Merchant of Venice, underrated.  A tragicomedy?  Anyway that's a good one flying a little under the radar.

 
There's a 2010 BBC version of the Scottish Play on Amazon starring Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood.  It looks like it was filmed in a bunker.  The staging looks incredible.
I saw that version on Broadway... Staging, costumes and lighting were really interesting- added to and subtly changes the tone of the play

 

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