Monday, June 22, 2009

Shakespeare--retold

Friday (after our family time) and Saturday as I ironed, etc., I watched some DVDs that I had gotten through Netflix.  (I love to watch movies while I iron. It's about the only way I can do it.)  The concept had sounded interesting, so I thought I'd give them a try. They were modernizations of 4 of Shakespeare's plays:  Macbeth, Much Ado about Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night's Dream
(Okay, so how could they leave James McAvoy off the "Starring" list? He was brilliant and a huge name draw if you ask me.)

Macbeth--set in the cut throat world of an haute cuisine restaurant kitchen. James McAvoy SHINES as Joe Macbeth as he descends into madness. 
I especially love the witches portrayed as 3 garbage men (in the background of the picture below). I would have loved to have seen more of Macduff played by Richard Armitage (also left off the "Starring" list and a huge draw to me. I didn't even know he was in it until he showed up on screen.), but I suppose time was short.  
The main downside at the beginning is that their accents are very thick and difficult for an American to understand. I'm wondering if it wouldn't have been easier with the subtitles on for that part. It's not hard to understand after the first scene though.

Much Ado about Nothing--set in the studio of a nightly news broadcast. This was my least favorite of the 4, but it was still very entertaining and captures the essence of the play very well.

The Taming of the Shrew--shows Kate as a modern politician famous for her bad temper. Her sister is a famous model/actress. Rufus Sewell is brilliant as Kate's suitor. I absolutely adored this version.
Shirley Henderson as Kate is completely over the top. I've always liked Sewell, but this really showed his range as an actor to me. He is something else here, something more. I'm even more in love with him than I was before, and it has nothing to do with the mini-skirt, heels, and mascara--although he pulls those off extremely well. (You just have to watch.)

A Midsummer Night's Dream--set in a wooded vacation resort. I loved the way the updating made the story so relatable. I think I never really got this play in the original or the remakes that I've seen. In this one I finally understood the point of all the different plotlines. Imelda Staunton does a fantastic job along with the other actors to make it real.  
There you have it--my take on Shakespeare retold. The BBC is so brilliant. I was amazed at how true to the spirit of Shakespeare's originals these retellings were. They are completely modern, and yet they retain Shakespeare's genius and feel. I was very impressed and entertained.

Have any of you already seen these? What did you think?

14 comments:

Justus M. Bowman said...

I saw a lot of that version of "Taming of the Shrew" when some family members of mine were watching it. It makes me sad to say, I didn't realize at the time that Shakespeare had written anything by that title. Aargh. Anyway, go Rufus!

Tess said...

Don't you just love Netflix? We order all sorts of Brittish TV and off the wall movies with our subscription. Fun stuff! These movies look very interesting, I'll have to check them out...

T. Anne said...

That sounds interesting and helpful since you ironed without the usually emotional suffering that comes with it. I'm signing up for netflicks and cannot wait to stop buying DVD's at Costco thinking I'm saving money on movie tickets for the family. They just pile up until I give them away, what a waste.

lotusgirl said...

Justus, It's a very current rendering of the play. That's for sure. Don't you love the name Rufus?

Tess, I love my netflix. I see things that I would never have seen otherwise--things that video stores, etc. don't carry. I love some of the obscure stuff. The artsy and british stuff.

T. Anne, That's the same thing for me. Most movies I don't want to buy. I just want to watch. The nice thing with netflix is I can see which ones I want to buy before I buy them. There's also the instant view that is nice.

Justus M. Bowman said...

I do! Tee-hee. Part of my liking it is due to my recruiting of a video game character named Rufus. He saved the day so many times. Very dramatic. Call me Nerd Bowman if you must, but I have a witness!

Barrie said...

I've never heard of them. But....I do have Netflix! Actually, I just loaded my queue up with a bunch of British movies. ;)

Lady Glamis said...

Got to get my hands on these! They look brilliant! I think Adam would really like them. :)

lotusgirl said...

Justus, I've considered naming a character Rufus because I like it so well. I'm still considering.

Barrie, I have tons of British films and tv series in my queue.

Glam, You have. You will love these. So will Adam. They are wonderful.

Solvang Sherrie said...

How fun! I enjoy retellings that are done well. Thanks for the recommendations.

KLo said...

Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited : ) I teach a lot of Shakespeare, and I've found retellings to be an invaluable tool. Thanks much for sharing : )

Alyssa said...

must. see. now.
:)

lotusgirl said...

Sherrie, I do too.

KLo, Yeah, I use this sort of thing with my kids to show how a story can evolve--from classical to Elizabethan to modern.

A, Yep. You'd love it.

Danyelle said...

I haven't seen any of these, but they look awesome!
*hearts BBC*

lotusgirl said...

Danyelle, Yeah, I totally love the BBC.