Sunday, July 24, 2011

The blogpost that wasn't (or, a review of Branaugh's Twelfth Night)

Today's post was going to be a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. However, I have been sick all weekend--I think I ate some funny crab cake--and not up to the effort. I have literally been closeted in my room all of Saturday, only emerging for the evening meal. I get extremely sour when sick (in terms of temperment, not smell), and my darkened room was transformed into the Bear Cave of Bitchiness. Far more pleasant for everyone if I didn't come out...

Whilst in the Bear Cave, when not curled into a ball of migraine misery, I was watching Twelfth Night and editing The Book. I made a feeble attempt at writing more of The Book, but gave up when my neurons started screaming after half a page. 

Branaugh's Twelfth Night is pretty good, I guess, but it's really weirdly shot for a movie. The set is very stage-like, not really movie-like at all--it looks like a set, whereas most movies try to disguise the fact that their set is a set. If that makes sense. There was an eyebrow-raising moment where the maid was sweeping up the fake snow and I was like, ok, we're sweeping fake snow? Wtf? I think that may have been a concious decision, though, because they also do some other things that are very stage-like. For example, Viola and other characters take lines and monologues out to the audience. Non-theatre-major translation: they talk directly to the camera.

This is pretty typical for theatre and especially for Shakespeare, but not at all for a movie. Movies like to keep that proscenium-stage feel of distance, because they try to create a reality separate from the viewers' reality. Usually when Shakespeare is adapted for film, monologues and asides that might have been said to a theater audience are done in voiceover. For example, Branaugh does the "more than kin and less than kind" aside as a voiceover in his version of Hamlet. For something like Twelfth Night that breaks the fourth wall (references the fact that it's a play) with lines like "If this were played upon a stage right now, I would condemn it as an improbable fiction!" it seems silly to try to pretend that it isn't a play. You get a little shock when Viola turns to the camera and seems to look you in the eye, but that's part of the experience.

Anyway, the acting is mostly wonderful. Viola, Olivia, and Orsino are the best, in my opinion. Watching the movie has been fun because I first saw the play put on by a college group--and the college production was, dare I say it, better than this movie version. Except for perhaps the Fool Feste; I love that Branaugh's Fool has depth as well as silliness. Yeah, I've got no place to critique anything Branaugh does, but who'd care about my opinion anyway?

Blah. This is a blah day and a blah blogpost (say that five times fast). As a random side note, there are a lot of really famous actors in HP who were also in Shakespearean roles. Kenneth Branaugh (Gilderoy Lockhart) played Hamlet in the film version he directed; Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) played a seriously disturbing Ophelia in Mel Gibson's Hamlet; David Tennant (Barty Crouch Jr.) also played Hamlet in another film version. So apparently you have to have been in some form of Hamlet to be cast in Harry Potter. Daniel Radcliffe already did a Broadway play...maybe they'll come out with a new Hamlet movie starring him! Actually, I'd like to see Tom Felton play Hamlet. He's a better actor and he's already got the tormented aura thing going on...Hermione and Ron can be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. OMG THEY SHOULD MAKE A HAMLET WITH ALL HARRY POTTER ACTORS.

Next blogpost: cast Hamlet using actors from Harry Potter. *retreats into Bear Cave of Bitchiness*

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