Friday, June 7, 2013

Much Ado

I watched the BBC Shakespeare's excellent Much Ado About Nothing. Robert Lindsay and Cherie Lunghi were quite delightful and well matched as Benedick and Beatrice. Jon Finch was a mincing, campy Don Pedro, suggesting another motivation altogether for his character's bachelorhood. (Hmm...perhaps he was in love with Benedick, and thus his sadness at end of play?) Katharine Levy did quite well with Hero's anguish in the non-wedding scene.

It is certainly hard to forgive Claudio and Don Pedro. How was it any easier in Shakespeare's time? It's quite galling to see Hero so willingly and happily married to Claudio, without him first saying something along the lines of "I am really, really, really, REALLY sorry for accusing you falsely and nearly destroying your life, all based on the flimsiest of 'evidence'." And the bizarre plot that the Friar comes up with, that everyone will just pretend Hero is dead! And thus Leonato and Antonio have to confront Claudio and Don Pedro with legitimate rage, and yet still remember to keep up the pretense that Hero is dead. Irksome.

One must take the bad with the good, and in this play I'd have to say that the good outweighs the bad. But still, I have a hard time giving old Shakespeare a "pass" on that plot point. It will be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out in Joss Whedon's new version.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Great Meaulnby

We saw Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, and really enjoyed it. I'd forgotten, from Moulin Rouge!, how his movies can make you swoon. What a dynamic filmmaker. If he ever directed a Cirque du Soleil show, my brain would explode from intoxication.

I confess I was entirely ignorant about TGG, never even having read F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. I was struck by how much it echoes Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes, a novel I know because I was in a beautiful stage adaptation of it back in college. (I played the title character, Augustin Meaulnes.)

The similarities only begin with the titles. In both books, a narrator relates the story about his dynamic, dashing, daring friend. Said friend met a young woman in the past, it was a life-changing moment, and he is now obsessed with "recapturing the past" and trying to bring himself and the woman together. The narrator stays mostly passive throughout the plot, although he does what he can to encourage and help his friend.

From Googling around, I note that I am far from the first person to notice the similarities between the novels. Fitzgerald spent a lot of time in France; he must have read LGM at some point during the 12 years that passed between the publications of LGM and TGG.