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  1. #1
    Tasty or your money back! Moderator fluffy bunny's Avatar
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    Is Shakespeare no longer cool?

    I thought modern Shakespeare adaptations were the in thing with movies (heck even the Lion King is Hamlet with lions), and some of the plots are copied across a wide range if genres (ok the dialogue changes but the plots are still intriguing).

    Granted Shakespeare's work is something that most people have dire memories about being forced to study at school but has anyone gone back to revisit any of his books? Forget the media- which books would you say are his best works (any more importantly why?)

  2. #2
    Ink-stained Wretch Teresa Edgerton's Avatar
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    Since his plays were written to be performed, it's hard to forget the media. I used to read the plays sometimes, but it's been a while. I think the last one was "A Comedy of Errors." I do love watching them, when they are well done. I'm trying to think of the last one I saw and coming up blank. (But I bet someone is going to mention something they made into a movie, and I'll say, "Oh yes, I saw that.") It's usually after I've seen a great performance of one of the plays that I reread it.

    You're right that there isn't the same interest in Shakespeare's plays that there was a few years ago. Oddly enough, it seems he's been replaced by Jane Austen.

  3. #3
    I don't really like his works. I only read them only because I have to. They are part of the required readings for my literature class.

  4. #4
    Science-Fantasy Zealot symbolhunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chongjasmine View Post
    I don't really like his works. I only read them only because I have to. They are part of the required readings for my literature class.
    I sympathize with your feeling because, of course, Shakespeare's plays are meant to be seen, not read. There have been some stunning adaptations of Shakespeare which make it clear why he is regarded as the greatest dramatist in English. For instance, Othello as produced and acted by Welles is brilliant. Branagh has done a fine version of Hamlet which, unlike the famous performance of Olivier does not change a word of the original text. Nor would I look down upon (as some do} the modern Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann to which I have seen secondary school pupils respond with clear excitement and emotion.

    A play like King Lear presented on stage or film can be absolutely shattering in its emotional and intellectual impact--particularly in the Dover scenes with its use of stream-of-consciousness technique as the mad king meets the blind noble led by a son pretending madness and in that final clash between the vision of an ordered universe and one which is apparently nihilistic.

    When seen {rather than being read} Shakespeare is COOL!
    {IMHO }
    Last edited by symbolhunter; November 29th, 2011 at 01:03 PM.

  5. #5
    Ink-stained Wretch Teresa Edgerton's Avatar
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    When I was studying Shakespeare in school (and they didn't have the media resources we have now) we did watch some of the plays as we read them, and it did enrich the experience.

    I have just recalled, however, that they took us to see a very bad production of "Antony and Cleopatra." Mercifully forgotten. Too bad I remembered it.
    Last edited by Teresa Edgerton; November 29th, 2011 at 12:04 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by symbolhunter View Post
    I sympathize with your feeling because, of course, Shakespeare's plays are meant to be seen, not read. There have been some stunning adaptations of Shakespeare which make it clear why he is regarded as the greatest dramatist in English. For instance, Othello as produced and acted by Welles is brilliant. Branagh has done a fine version of Hamlet which, unlike the famous performance of Olivier does not change a word of the original text. Nor would I look down upon (as some do} the modern Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann to which I have seen secondary school pupils respond with clear excitement and emotion.

    A play like King Lear presented on stage or film can be absolutely shattering in its emotional and intellectual impact--particularly in the Dover scenes with its use of stream-of-consciousness technique as the mad king meets the blind noble led by a son pretending madness and in that final clash between the vision of an ordered universe and one which is apparently nihilistic.

    When seen {rather than being read} Shakespeare is COOL!
    {IMHO }
    Bravo! My sentiments exactly! I used to have to read Shakespeare in High School many years ago and hated the experience. Shakespeare has always been meant to be performed, not read out.
    Speaking of King Lear, the late Japanese film director Kurasawa, who stole from Shakespeare shamelessly throughout his career made a movie back some 20 years ago called Ran. It was Shakespeare in the medeval world of Japanese samurai only this Lear had three scheming sons, not daughters.

  7. #7
    I didn't really care for Shakespeare much until I saw the movie adaptation of Othello with Lawrence Fishburne. The language is really tough to wrap your head around, but it's easier to figure out what's going on when you have body language and settings to give it context. It's funny that many of his plays were performed in front of the lower classes in seedy establishments. That means that no one had trouble understanding what was going on back then.

    My personal favorite is The Merchant of Venice. Al Pacino is a great Shylocke in the movie version. I would love to see a Shakespearean play in a live theater. Unfortunately, small towns in southern Indiana don't have thriving theater communities. I'll have to plan a trip to Chicago or Nashville sometime.

  8. #8
    Saturn Comes Back Around Evil Agent's Avatar
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    First of all, they're not "books", they're plays which are meant to be performed.

    Secondly, Shakespeare is still incredibly popular, possibly more popular than ever. There are new Shakespeare adaptations coming out all the time in Hollywood, as well as annual Shakespeare festivals around the world which are growing in size and popularity.

    It's sad that so many people have a bad experience with Shakespeare in school, because it is truly some of the greatest writing of all time. In fact, it's timeless.

    My favourites are the tragedies (King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet), but I also really like Richard III.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Agent View Post
    First of all, they're not "books", they're plays which are meant to be performed.

    Secondly, Shakespeare is still incredibly popular, possibly more popular than ever. There are new Shakespeare adaptations coming out all the time in Hollywood, as well as annual Shakespeare festivals around the world which are growing in size and popularity.

    It's sad that so many people have a bad experience with Shakespeare in school, because it is truly some of the greatest writing of all time. In fact, it's timeless.

    My favorites are the tragedies (King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet), but I also really like Richard III.
    Agreed completely. Shakespeare is the coolest of the cool. Henry V will always be my favorite. The St. Crispen's Day speech is pure genius.

  10. #10
    Jason Carney JRCarney52's Avatar
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    My wife and I just saw a production of Hamlet earlier this month in Portland, Oregon. There it seems like classical theater is alive and well.

    Re. the question, "Is Shakespeare no longer cool?" Here's my answer: He's the center of the western canon. He has been the center of the western canon since the middle of the 17th century. He'll probably always be the center of the western canon. :-P

    With that said, it's a hunch of mine that the contemporary traditions of sci-fi/fantasy/horror have more to do with the humanism of Shakespeare than contemporary "high" literature, which has forsaken "sensational" aesthetics-- aesthetics that inspire feelings like wonder, the sublime, horror, arousal, terror, mystery, etc..

    *The Tempest* is a borderline fantasy!

    Always we must remember that Bill Shakespeare's plays were "mass art." Be suspicious of those folk who try to make him "high art" and in doing so drain his plays of their ability to thrill the mind and the heart.
    Last edited by JRCarney52; January 5th, 2012 at 11:41 AM. Reason: word choice

  11. #11
    Reader Moderator NickeeCoco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irrelevant View Post

    My personal favorite is The Merchant of Venice. Al Pacino is a great Shylocke in the movie version. I would love to see a Shakespearean play in a live theater. Unfortunately, small towns in southern Indiana don't have thriving theater communities. I'll have to plan a trip to Chicago or Nashville sometime.
    I saw The Merchant of Venice at the rebuilt (albeit in a slightly different spot) Globe in London. It was a lot of fun. To see it outside in the same type of setting that they were originally performed in was pretty damn amazing. It really enriched the whole experience. I've also seen a few at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. I only live three hours away, so it's nice. My experience in school, when it came to Shakespeare, wasn't a horrible one. I enjoyed it. It also helped that I was in an arts school, so not only did we study it in English, but we would perform them in drama. The English teacher was also the drama teacher, so we had to do a lot of acting in English, too.
    Last edited by NickeeCoco; January 6th, 2012 at 10:06 AM.

  12. #12
    Earthman1
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    I consider 'Forbidden Planet' the greatest of all SF movies (as well as also being the precursor for 'Star Trek'), and it is based on 'The Tempest'. Shakespeare is permacool!

  13. #13
    Science-Fantasy Zealot symbolhunter's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by JRCarney52 View Post
    My wife and I just saw a production of Hamlet earlier this month in Portland, Oregon. There it seems like classical theater is alive and well.

    Re. the question, "Is Shakespeare no longer cool?" Here's my answer: He's the center of the western canon. He has been the center of the western canon since the middle of the 17th century. He'll probably always be the center of the western canon. :-P

    With that said, it's a hunch of mine that the contemporary traditions of sci-fi/fantasy/horror have more to do with the humanism of Shakespeare than contemporary "high" literature, which has forsaken "sensational" aesthetics-- aesthetics that inspire feelings like wonder, the sublime, horror, arousal, terror, mystery, etc..

    *The Tempest* is a borderline fantasy!

    Always we must remember that Bill Shakespeare's plays were "mass art." Be suspicious of those folk who try to make him "high art" and in doing so drain his plays of their ability to thrill the mind and the heart.
    Absolutely spot on! Shakespeare was popular enough to make money! It was certainly "mass art" and that doesn't stop it from being "great art" as well. Dickens would be a good example of a similar case. F.R. Leavis, the Cambridge critic, who was highly influential in the mid-twentieth century, wouldn't put Dickens in his "Great Tradition" of English novelists because he was a populariser. Perhaps this tells us more about Leavis than Dickens.

  14. #14

    Of course

    He will forever be cool, I think the world is just getting dumber.

  15. #15
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    I have seen a movie which related with shakespeare's life. it's really very nice movie. in the movie, shakespeare is a poet and also a good dramatist. he has faced many problem in his life. what do you know about shakeapeare.
    corbett tour package

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