Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shakespeare on Film

This time of the year I teach two Shakespeare plays, Macbeth to the ninth-grade, and King Lear to the eleventh. Last night I watched Richard Eyre's King Lear and Roman Polanski's Macbeth. Such different approaches to translating Shakespeare to film. I agree almost completely with what Bardolatry says about both films: the Eyre and the Polanski

Ian Holm as Lear is absolutely compelling, but I do not like Victoria Hamilton's performance as Cordelia much. The subplot involving Gloucester ( Timothy West) and his sons (Paul Rhys as Edgar and Finbar Lynch as Edmund) is moving and dignified, a worthy counterpoint to the tragedy of Lear. 

The direction of Macbeth is visionary: a case of overpowering force meeting immovable tradition. The film is extraordinarily bloody, but so is the play. The director does not spare the audience. The bodies clash, twist, pull, gush, fall, pierce. Jon Finch as Macbeth looks too young, but gives off a brooding intensity. Francesca Annis is too soft and simpering for Lady M. 


Domch said...

Have you seen Kurosawa's 'Throne of Blood', Jee? It takes more liberties with the playtext, but is a breathtaking example of cultural translation.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Yes, I have. It is great.