Letting go of Shakespeare

The necklace I got for Christmas. Etsy shop: cellsdividing

So, I survived ! 6000 words and 1 exam later, January assessment in done for me. Huge relief mixed with my usual self-doubt, magnified by the little amount of time I left myself, and the lack of motivation I seemed to have up until the last-minute.

Naturally I never want to have to think about Friedrich Nietzsche again. I can only hope I passed that essay. However, after finishing my Shakespeare essay, it was about Screen adaptations of Shakespeare, I felt a little pang of loss. I have been studying the works of The Bard since I was 13 or so, and I don’t think I consciously enjoyed it until this year. Perhaps it was the contrast to the horror of my other two modules this semester, or perhaps it was simply getting the chance to see so many of his plays acted out, as they are meant to be… But I found myself enjoying the module, and having so many notes and ideas that I found it impossible to structure the essay properly and so have more chance of doing better in Nietzsche than Shakespeare, I reckon.

Now I know Film and Screen adaptations are very different from the stage performance, and there is something lost in this translation, but there are many things gained. I loved the ‘film studies’ aspect to it, I have never studied film before and found it fascinating. M did lots of film studies in the past and I always liked asking him questions about how things were done and different shots and things. Seeing the play acted out (quite obviously really, but it’s amazing how many times I struggled through the text and came to classes in the past not fully understanding the plot) gives you an infinitely better understanding of each play. Kenneth Branagh was key in helping me properly get to grips with Hamlet. Oh how I have grown to love his egocentric-I’m-the-director-but-also-the-main-character-in-all-my-Shakespeare-films-and-also-so-theatrical-and-over-the-top ways! I think I even fancy him a bit. Be warned. His 1996 4 hour epic of Hamlet is seriously worth watching:

Hamlet is a wonderful play, with so much emotion. For my essay I wrote about Michael Almereyda’s 2000 ultra modern adaptation. Because it uses the original dialogue, I remember seeing it when I was very young, and I honestly didn’t understand it, but I adored it this time, and it was so interesting to discuss and research. It’s set in Manhattan, Ethan Hawke plays a sullen, young, almost adolescent Hamlet and Julia Stiles plays Ophelia very well. It’s rich with statements on consumer culture, being swallowed up by society and cut-throat business, with ‘the state of Denmark’ Denmark being ‘Denmark Corp’, the King the CEO… The scene where Ophelia returns her ‘remembrances’ to Hamlet would break your heart. If you’ve never read any Shakespeare I don’t know if it would be your thing, but I would give it a go anyway. If the acting is as good as it should be it won’t matter if you don’t catch every word. Here is the famous ‘To be or not to be’ where Hamlet is wandering the ‘Action’ aisles of a Blockbuster video store… deep!

In 2005 the BBC filmed 4 modern adaptations of Shakespeare plays, and you can buy the discs for cheap online, they are VERY good. And James Mcevoy is wonderful as the Head Chef Joe Macbeth in a version of ‘Macbeth.’ Macbeth is my most-studied and written about Shakespeare play so I think I will always have a connection to it. The blood and guts of the kitchen make a brilliant background to the bloody play, and Mcevoy gets angrier and scarier as he grows more unhinged. Great stuff:

I really hope this isn’t my last run in with Shakespeare. I will wear my necklace proudly: Polonius says this to his son Laertes in ‘Hamlet’ as he leaves for France… (Did you know Josh Ritter’s ‘So Runs the World Away’ is a line from Hamlet also?) I will keep my massive ‘Norton Book of Shakespeare’ which has all the plays, I will be one of those people who watched DVDs of Shakespeare for pleasure. Perhaps with a glass of wine for extra culture points. I hope to see a stage performance some day. Maybe Macbeth or Hamlet. There is just so much story, and depth and meaning to it all.

In the mean time, fingers crossed for a decent essay result. Any feelings on Shakespeare?

Author: Fiona @ lifelyricslemoncake


4 thoughts on “Letting go of Shakespeare”

  1. Ah i love any excuse to sit back and watch costume dramas. I remember being one of the very few people in GCSE English class that loved Shakespeare. I had to spend hours and hours trying to figure out what he meant, but then i loved hearing the rhythms and philosophy behind each word when spoke well. Lookit the dream cast in that Hamlet trailer! I am just thankful that i now have a friend that can join me in probably-wee-bit-too-cultured past-times of watching shakespearean plays, whilst i sit back and go through my entire ballet collection on dvd. Ima look up those BBC adaptions… they always do well with things like this. Pride and Prejudice for example <3. Also! YOU'RE FREEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Congratulations, and i really believe that all of your heart** work will show when results come around. Relax now for a wee while [and come see me!]. Lovely thought-prevoking post as always.
    ** was a typo but now i just like the idea behind it

    1. I so want to watch Shakespeare with you. Maybe that Almereyda one would interest you too! Aye the BBC one has a good version of ‘Taming of the Shrew’ which I actually haven’t read but it stars your woman from Bridget Jones and who plays Moaning Myrtle and she’s amazing. Ballet DVDs ? Did you mean to type that? haha.

      Thank you, I’m heading to Belfast this afternoon, babysitting saturday and saturday night. Sunday might be the day/night! Or any day you choose next week.

      Thank you for the comment dedication. They cheer me up no end x Heart work ❤ You sure you're not the writer? x

  2. Congratulations and I’m sure you’ll do brilliantly. I also love the ‘heart work’ typo. 🙂

    I love Hamlet, but Macbeth’s my favourite. My strongest memory from college is the lecturer explaining dramatic irony, by saying “‘He was a man on whom I built an absolute trust’… Enter Macbeth.” Gave me the shivers. Fabulous.

    Still haven’t seen it on stage though, which I really must rectify soon. (I saw Christopher Eccleston play Hamlet, which was FANTASTIC.)

    1. Macbeth does seem the most relatable somehow.. Maybe it’s cause ambition is becoming more and more vital or important?
      Poor Duncan! Ooh if you’re a Mcevoy fan you should look up that BBC version. It’s a lot different, but very good. Duncan (the celebrity chef) is stealing Macbeth’s thunder, taking his credit and stuff, which isn’t right but it’s still great!

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

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