Sunday, August 22, 2004

Not so much a review as an impression: Titus

Powerful. Disturbing. Intense. Fascinating. It's one of those rare films that's not over when it's over. It is Julie Taymor's Titus.

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I've seen Shakespeare done very well, as in Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V. And I've seen beautiful interpretations, as in Akira Kurosawa's Ran, (an adaptation of King Lear). But more often than not, when I've seen Shapespeare, I've seen it done badly. Stilted, wooden, boring exercises in "art" or "culture."

But here, we have an anachronistic confusion of chariots and motorcycles, men in Romanesque armor and Goths with SPAS-12s, and no regard whatsoever for the story's place in history. And it works.

And then there's the play. Pretty much as Shakespeare wrote it, with all the murder, mayhem, rape, adultery, cannibalism, and most of all, revenge. A darkly comic, morally ambiguous, nasty, bloody mess. That all fits together perfectly.

And it makes you think too.

And all that kind of stuff.

A comment on the human condition, or something.

And it's definitely not for kids.



Blogger Geoff Arnold said...

Hmmm. Over and over again my hand has hovered over this particular title at the video rental store... and then I've chickened out. Maybe it's that blue: I always felt that if I picked it up I was going to wind up depressed and frustrated. But after reading this, I think I'll try after all.

And there must be other Shakespearean films that you've enjoyed. How about Branagh's delightful "Much Ado About Nothing"? Or you could try "Prospero's Books" for a, um... "different" experience.... ;-)

Monday, August 23, 2004 8:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

In response to Geoff--

I saw Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing several years ago. I remember only two things about it. One was a sceen at the beginning of the movie of a young woman--shot from behind--dressing after bathing. Or something. Pulling up her dress. You know which one I'm talking about. The other thing that I remember is that the rest of the film seemed badly paced. As I remember it, there were some pretty slow parts.

Much as I liked Henry V, I'm afraid I just don't think Branagh's quite the director he thinks he is. Or maybe it's just bad writing. But perhaps in the case of Much Ado I just wasn't in the right mood when I watched it before. Maybe I should have another look. In fact, I believe I shall.

Other Shakespeare movies that I really liked include The Taming of the Shrew with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and....

Well, I'm sure there were others.I might have liked Roman Polanski's MacBeth, but I really don't remember.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:58:00 PM  

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