Filmed Shakespeare

Filmed Shakespeare

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     Possibly nothing is more fun than filmed Shakespeare, because few things offer as many paths for reflection. Shakespeare himself invented the reflective human in the first place, and the play itself has power. But anyone looking for this power doesn't go to the movies, they read the play. There's just too much engagement and too many levels to appreciate without the magical space that reading creates.
     You do not get more dark or tragic than "Othello" and this movie captures the play fairly well, with outstanding performances by Lawrence Fishburne and Irene Jacob. Fishburne's expresses to the viewer Othello's torment as he falls prey to Iago's lies very convincingly, even providing a realistic epileptic episode. Jacob is the loving and loyal wife who becomes either the instrument of Iago's revenge against Othello, or the object of his wrath (it is not clear which since no motive for Iago's behavior is offered). Although Kenneth Brannagh displays his usual talent for Shakespeare in this movie, he is somewhat marginalized. The characters of Cassio and Emilia also wander in and out of scenes even though they, like Iago, seem more crucial to the plot. I have not checked the movie against the play to see how many lines were cut out, but I know that Shakespeare tends to develop his characters, even the seemingly unimportant ones, very well.
     Ludwig van Beethoven composed great works by just imagining the music in his mind and then trying to duplicate it on paper. The problem, of course, was that he was deaf and thus couldn't understand the basis of day-to-day life. Either a genius or a lunatic, you decide.
     Translating Shakespeare into the context of film takes a degree of Beethoven acting itself.

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The production must turn a blind eye to the world itself and be obsessed with their work in order to make a satisfactory Shakespeare adaptation. My interpretation of Shakespeare was hindered, because Shakespeare wrote plays, he didn't write movies and just like some poems should stay in their original languages so should play, especially Shakespeare plays.
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