Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shakespeare Out of Time (Commonplace Book)

I watched a gloriously trashy version of Macbeth today, filmed in 2007 in Australia. You all know I enjoy conjunctions like Harold Bloom and superhero comics so it should come as no surprise that I got a kick out of this made-for-TV-style action version of Macbeth. Here is the trailer -- relish in the awfulness. I am going to make my students next term relish in it.

Let me also point you to Tasha Robinson's really well written review of the film over on the AV club. This sample really packs it in:

Re-envisioning the king Duncan as a modern Melbourne crime lord, with the untrustworthy Macbeth as an up-and-coming lieutenant, makes some story sense, but it intermittently just seems like an excuse to fill the screen with liquor, drugs, club lights and smoke machines, grubbily stylish men weighted down with laser-sighted guns, and tattooed naked girls. It's Macbeth by way of The Covenant, all brooding pretty-boys with emo eyes and hipster hair, standing around in gauzily decorated rich-kid boudoirs in the dead of night, and at times, it's too overblown to take seriously. The grainy high-def video and the over-reliance on bland medium shots sometimes makes this look like Macbeth on a budget, shot by a talented drama club with excellent access to prop guns and blood squibs. (click for the whole thing).

And finally, let me point you an Onion article I found linked in the comments on the AV Club review -- its called "Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended." Here is a sample. Click for the whole thing.

"I know when most people hear The Merchant Of Venice, they think 1960s Las Vegas, a high-powered Manhattan stock brokerage, or an 18th-century Georgia slave plantation, but I think it's high time to shake things up a bit," Hiles said. "The great thing about Shakespeare is that the themes in his plays are so universal that they can be adapted to just about any time and place."


Voice Of The Eagle said...

Okay, I have to see this.

You should also check out Scotland, PA-which acts out Macbeth in a fast food francise.


Geoff Klock said...

I saw that out of a deep love for Maura Teirney, but it did not retain Shakespeare's language, and to me, that is missing the point.

Timothy Callahan said...

What's your position on Throne of Blood?

And Polanski's Macbeth?

I hate one and love the other. (I'm sure you can guess which is which.)

Geoff Klock said...

My memory of Throne of Blood is that I was supposed to like it, I did not hate it, and not much else. I remember that the famous lead actor (i forget his name) has been virtually impossible to take seriously ever since The PowerPuff Girls used his speech patterns as the basis for Mojo JoJo.

Polanski's MacBeth I remember being genuinely horrific, especially the scene in which MacDuff learns of the slaughter of his wife and child -- Polanski's pregnant wife was killed by the Manson cult not that long before the scene was shot. The reason I am not playing that version is I like the critical distance that comes with watching a really BAD movie - its why I use the Ethan Hawke version to teach Hamlet. Plus I will probably play scenes from all the MacBeths on film, to compare, but I am playing the awful Australian one all the way through.

Andrew said...

What's perhaps most interesting to me is that this idea (MacBeth as drug lord lackey moving up in the system) is exactly the same as a production I saw at the Salzburg festival in 2001. That version was set in the 1970s and featured Lady MacBeth puking through her entire monologue.

scott91777 said...

Actually, considering that the original Macbeth was excuse to fill the stage with sex & violence... I find this eniterely appropriate.