Okay, let’s be serious here…
Actually, let’s not be serious, because I just watched a three hour long movie that was nothing but serious! Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not suggesting they should have thrown in any sunshine or rainbows, but perhaps some daylight? And I understand that Shakespeare was originally performed on a plain stage, but I’m pretty sure they turned the lights on in the Globe Theatre. I think the Royal Shakespeare company must have fired their lighting guy right before production started and just said, “Oh well, we’ll just go without”. Also could they have delivered one line without shouting it…?
Okay, okay, I’m over it. Here are some comments on the benefits and downfalls of watching film production of a Shakespearean play:
1. I found I was able to follow the plot just by looking at the costumes and listening the the tones of voice that the actors were using, which was good since I wasn’t actually able to catch much of what they were saying. Especially Ian McKellen- he really needs to work on his enunciation. It’s charming when he’s playing Gandalf or Dumbledore, but throw Shakespearean English on top of blurred consonants and I was sure lost.
2. Seeing characters in costumes (or lack of costumes in the case of Edgar) made keeping the characters straight a lot easier. Like I mentioned in my post on annotation, I’m a very visual learner, so being able to see a face and a costume was very helpful for me in understanding the play. I found that the costumes made the characters roles quite simple to sort out. For example:
-the king is wearing a crown (the crown is askew or removed when he’s acting crazy or “unroyal”)
-the pure/chaste sister is wearing white
-the other sisters are wearing darker costumes
-The upper class are wearing fancier clothes than the lower class. Kent, for example is dressed very plainly.
3. I found was that I was limited in my understanding of the content by the way the lines were presented by the actors. I’m sure that I will see some different tonal interpretations when I listen to the audio version of the play and that will change/add to my understanding of King Lear.
4. I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the beauty and complexity of the language that was being spoken. Don’t get me wrong, I recognized the complexity, but didn’t appreciate it quite like I did when I was reading Lucrece and I had the footnotes to guide me to a fuller understanding of the language. Perhaps if the film was played at half speed (the downfall of which would be that the film would extend to six hours long…) I would be able to catch more of the language, but as it was my understanding of what was actually being said was limited.