Friday, October 24, 2008

Stage (and screen) Beauty

I've been teaching Othello at the college I commute to. As you know, it's my favorite Shakespeare tragedy. And I've been getting ready for a presentation to the Board of Trustees about the Writing Center (student tutoring service) that I run at the local college. And I still haven't finished grading that third pile of papers. So I haven't been reading much at all.

The most fun I've had in the land of fiction has been going through all the film versions of Othello that I own and borrow from libraries, and I've rediscovered a movie that wasn't as big a commercial success as it deserved. It's entitled Stage Beauty, and it stars Billy Crudup and Claire Danes. The story centers around productions of Othello, and the final scene is an (anachronistic) entirely passionate and satisfying conclusion to the story and to the play within it. That's a good trick, wouldn't you say?

My favorite version of Othello has to be the severely edited Kenneth Branagh/Oliver Parker one that came out in 1995. But I also like Janet Suzman's 2000 South African cast, and Tim Blake Nelson's and Geoffrey Sax's 2001 screenplay versions.

Do you have a favorite movie based on a Shakespeare play?


CSchu said...

Ok. That's easy. The Kenneth Branaugh/Emma Thompson version of Much Ado about Nothing. I really like the play, anyhow, but it also carries some interesting memories of getting a babysitter to go to Columbus to see it and then having a thunder storm take out the electricity to the theatre about half an hour into the movie. Then we went back late the next Thursday night and got to the movie about a half an hour late. So we walked in just before the place where we had lost power the week before. Love the movie

lemming said...

I have fond memories (though they may be inaccurate) of the film version of Romeo and Juliet I saw in 9th grade.... Romeo was hot and we got to see his, er, tush.

I did Othello twice in High school - once with one of the most pious and conservative people I have ever known, and once with a man who was a brilliant, amazing, fantastic teacher, with the dirtiest mind ever... quite a contrast!

Anonymous said...

Romeo and Juliet, but not the recent one. The '68 version was my favorite.

Jeanne said...

Oh, yes, the 1968 version was Zefferelli's, famous because of how young his stars were (about the same age as the characters they play). That's the first movie version of a Shakespeare play I ever saw.

My current crop of first-year college students all saw the Leonardo DiCaprio "Venice Beach" updated version of Romeo and Juliet in high school (replaces swords with guns).

But Lemming, I can't think of one where we get to see Romeo's tush. I do recall a bathing scene full of male tushes in the Branagh Much Ado...