Shakespeare’s Tardis

For all the Whovians out there, there is Shakespeare for you too! This notebook details the encounters that the Doctor had with the British Bard. It explains everything from the “true” story on how the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream came to be imagined to providing original notes from Hamlet.

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I first came across this journal perusing the aisles of Barnes and Noble; it was sitting within the Children’s section like a lost treasure just waiting to be discovered. However, any Shakespeare fanatic will find enjoyment from the whimsical tellings. Click the picture below for a sneak-peek of the story:

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If this does not satisfy your Shakespeare/Dr. Who taste buds there is also a Dr. Who episode that references the playwright! Go view the episode and find out if the Dr. can stop the curse of the three witches from Macbeth.

Author’s Note: Hey everyone! Sorry it’s been a little over a month since I posted something. I will try not to let that happen again. Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that I changed my Twitter name to @TheWordsUSpoke so follow me at that name for blog updates! 🙂

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Romeo’s Playlist

There are numerous songs from all genres today that reference what is undoubtedly William Shakespeare’s most famous play Romeo and Juliet. Here are just a few:

  • “Romeo and Juliet” by: Dire Straits

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOe7Ke1JuuY

  • “Check Yes Juliet” by: We The Kings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CUyWJ7UINM

  • “Love Story” by: Taylor Swift

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xg3vE8Ie_E

  • “My Kinda Party” by: Jason Aldean

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isLqoB3v_wI

  • “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor” by: Arctic Monkeys

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeGLA-CuyCk

  • “I Saw Her Standing There” by: The Beatles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oroSpLjkCvo

  • “Cherish” by: Madonna

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q2WS6ahCnY

  • “Romeo and Juliet” by: Edwin McCain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4lv_B5jI9w

  • “Fever” by: Peggy Lee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eIDtwcFXcI

  • “I Don’t Care” by: Delta Goodrem

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFdXl_Y1Rqk

Now, I know some people are groaning right now because for many Romeo and Juliet is a terrible love story about teenage lust. However, I beg to differ; instead, people may be reading the play wrong. It is important to keep in mind that Romeo and Juliet was not written to be a love story at all – it is a TRAGEDY and therefore should be read as one. The goal of the tale was not for Romeo and Juliet to find undying love, yet this is what people expect when they try and read the play as a love story.

What makes Romeo and Juliet a tragedy? Well, it follows the same outline as Shakespeare’s other tragic plays such as Othello and Hamlet. That is: two young people fall in “love,” the young lady goes against her father’s wishes to pursue said love, the protagonist is a sympathetic but not necessarily a heroic character, and in the end when love is either not consensual and/or harmonic many of the characters in the play die (including the lovers) in a claustrophobic – or as is the case with this play – literally a tomb-like scene.

You can read Romeo and Juliet on Sparknotes!

Henry V Film Adaptation (Tom Hiddleston)

Like I previously did for the film The Merchant of Venice, I’d like to portray the differences and perks the film version of Henry V has over the Shakespearean play by the same name:

  • Unlike Shakespeare’s written work Henry V, the film adaptation by the same name is able to add emphasis to scenes through the careful selection of the characters’ costumes. When first introduced, Henry is darned in brown leather which sharply contrasts Canterbury’s harsh red cloak and gold jewelry. Just from this distinction, the audience can begin to infer that Henry is (for the most part) sensible, down-to-earth, well-intended in his actions, and a hard worker; leather is commonly deeply associated with the earth, homeliness and strength/labor. On the other hand, due to just an analysis of his clothing one can assume that Canterbury and (since he is the archbishop and therefore represents the church) the church in general is cloaked in blood, a readiness for war, and a need to separate itself from the lower class. Henry’s leather ties him to the people immediately; a connection that one really is not confronted with in the play until Act 4, Scene 1 when Henry talks to his soldiers as a commoner and his kingly status goes unnoticed. And, just as Henry’s attributes are later portrayed through his actions, so are the archbishop’s in Act 1, Scenes 1 and 2 when the church is wanting to financially support the King in his war with France with more money than the church has ever lent out before, when Canterbury is willing to bet his right intentions for the war on his own life, and when Ely (another extension of the church) directly refers to blood/brotherhood in Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 115-121. The film adaptation’s visual aspect in clothing layers the exact same story under the play’s original dialogue.
  • The film adaptation is also able to utilize props to supplement the actors’ dialogue, unlike a silent read-through of the Shakespearean play. Props are carefully used in the film in Henry’s speech to the French Ambassador in what is Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 259-297 of the original play. When the two characters begin to speak, Henry is shown standing between two fiery torches, he sits in his throne for a few moments between the torches, then gets up and circles the ambassador as if he is circling prey. Henry V TorchesWhen the confrontation is over, Henry has to have two men open the massively heavy doors that lead out of his throne’s chamber. The props – the torches, the dark throne, and the massive doors – add to the scene’s eeriness; it made me connect the scene to what Hades’ palace may look like in the Greek underworld, which is a fitting connection considering that Henry is furious for vengeance when speaking to the French ambassador.
    • However, the most important prop used in this scene to defend the actor’s intent is the tennis balls Henry receives from the ambassador as a mocking gift from the Dauphin. After Henry finishes circling the ambassador, Henry throws the ambassador the tennis ball he had picked up off the floor and been holding as if to silently say, “make your move, England will war with you for this mockery, and the ball is now in your court.” This one gesture alone allowed Henry to threaten so much more than his lips uttered aloud.
  • The film adaptation, unlike the play, portrays male dominance through omitting Queen Isabel’s character in Act 5, Scene 2 and changing some of Henry’s lines in the same Act and Scene; in this way the play is freed from the original dialogue. In the film, King Charles speaks Queen Isabel’s line in lines 12-20 and line 98; and Burgundy speaks Queen Isabel’s lines in lines 354-363. This demonstrates male power over women because in the play, when Isabel speaks she is the one to greet King Henry, she is the one to decide that Catherine may stay to speak with Henry, and she is the one who ultimately dictates that Henry may wed Catherine; however, by omitting Queen Isabel’s character altogether – as the film does – and by having King Charles and Burgundy speak the Queen’s lines the men are seen to be the ones making the major decisions for their kingdoms and their households.
    • Unlike the written play, the film further demonstrates male dominance in this same Act and Scene by changing Henry’s speech in line 368. In the play Henry states, “Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me…” When he says, “And you to me,” Henry is acknowledging Kate’s consent and presence. But, in the film Henry’s dialogue is changed to, “Then shall I swear to Kate, and she to me.” The use of the word “she” instead of “you” is a subtle difference; nevertheless, it shifts Henry’s dialogue from the acknowledgement of his fiancé’s consent to the acknowledgement of her father’s permission. Henry is even looking to King Charles and Burgundy, not Kate, when he speaks this line in the film.

The Merchant of Venice (2004)

In this post I will write on the benefits a film adaptation of one of William Shakespeare’s plays has over a silent read-through of the play. In particular, I will focus on the 2004 film adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, which is based on a Shakespearean play by the same name.

Below are (a few of) the advantages an audience has when watching the film versus reading the play:

  1. The film can utilize lighting
    1. For example:
      1. The film is able to play with lighting to further set the tone of scenes – an element that a read-through of the play is unable to provide. This is best exemplified when Jessica hands Lancelot the letter she wrote for Lorenzo, wanting Lancelot to deliver it to him. When Jessica hands Lancelot the letter he holds it up to the light to inspect it, but Jessica quickly takes his hand and draws the letter back into darkness; this tells the audience without using dialogue that the letter is shrouded in secrecy. However, when Jessica leaves, Lancelot holds the letter back up to the light, probably indirectly insinuating that all secrets will come to light or be brought out into the open soon enough.For example:
      2. Another example in the film of lighting allowing for further meaning within a scene occurs when Bassanio is choosing a casket, hoping to win Portia. In this scene, Portia is standing by a window – a window alone may represent escapism/freedom – while Bassanio contemplates his choice. However, no matter the stricken look of anxiety darning Portia’s face while she waits to hear Bassanio’s choice, the light falling into the room from the window onto Portia’s face foreshadows and promises that Bassanio’s choice will not disappoint her. Among other meanings such as enlightenment and happiness, sunshine represents warmth and comfort and therefore speaks as loudly, if not louder, than any lines the characters can utter in the play or film.
  2. The film can utilize costuming
    1. For example:
      1. In the film, Antonio is usually darned in blues and cool colors throughout the story whereas Shylock is usually seen wearing crimson red. Blue is most commonly associated with harmony and faithfulness. Red is associated with blood, war and danger (http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html). These colors may allow the audience to draw a further contrast between Shakespeare’s interpretation of the Christian-Jew relationship that Antonio and Shylock represent and with it the Christian policy of mercy/forgiveness versus the Jewish mandate of Justice.
  3. The film can omit or expand scenes from the play
    1. For example:
      1. The film omits the banter between Lancelot and his father in Act 2, Scene 2 where the two characters are first introduced at Shylock’s house. This is a very significant change because it alters the view the audience has of Lancelot and Gobbo’s relationship; it also changes the dynamic in the later scene where Lancelot and Gobbo go to Bassanio when Lancelot is seeking to leave his former master Shylock. Whereas in the play Lancelot and Gobbo’s bantering portrays an almost Oedipus conflict where the son is taking authority over his elderly father, the film’s lack of banter demonstrates the exact opposite, that the elderly hold more authority over the younger generation in Venice. And, the elderly having possession of the young makes the young a commodity.

For more information on film adaptations visit the links below:

  1. What is film adaptation?: http://www2.fiu.edu/~weitzb/WHAT-IS-FILM-ADAPTATION.htm
  2. Different types of film adaptations: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~rbeach/teachingmedia/module12/2a.htm

For a preview of The Merchant of Venice check out the official trailer!

Letters to Juliet

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_to_Juliet
Picture From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_to_Juliet

Letters to Juliet is a blockbuster film that hit theaters May 14, 2010 (USA). In this film a young journalist by the name of Sophie goes on a grand adventure across Italy with Claire and Claire’s grandson Charlie in search of Claire’s Lorenzo – a man she left when she was young and afraid of risking everything for love. This film, however, is a loose adaptation (otherwise known as an analogue) of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. SPOILER ALERT: Claire and Lorenzo are star-crossed lovers whose parents kept them apart in their adolescence, but Sophie and Charlie are star-crossed as well in their own way. While Claire and Lorenzo may represent the more traditional story of Romeo and Juliet in that they lose their love and each other (though unlike Shakespeare’s lovers, Claire and Lorenzo do not commit suicide, but rather continue living their lives until they find each other many years later), Sophie and Charlie are the anti-Romeo and Juliet in that they beat the odds and all the complications keeping them apart; they find each other, and circumstance allows them to both fall in love and be together.

This is a beautiful story and definitely worth watching! Films such as this one merge the old with the new, the traditional with the innovative and bring Shakespeare to a wider audience in the 21st century. Anyone who appreciates Shakespeare’s plays/film adaptations will be shedding tears and sitting on the edge of their seat until the credits begin to roll.

Below is a video of the official film trailer for Letters to Juliet: