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This chapter argues that, while Shakespeare was deployed in World War II Britain for propaganda purposes, references to the playwright or his works also exposed rifts or contradictions within the national culture he was called upon to embody. It focuses on three major media in which Shakespeare was performed, adapted, or appropriated: the theater, the radio, and the cinema. Whereas state intervention fostered the performance of Shakespearean drama throughout the nation, the BBC underwent dramatic changes that meant that, while Britain’s national poet remained central to its mission, he was also associated with an elitist model of broadcasting whose hegemony was overturned during the war years. As for film, wartime Shakespearean appropriations show that the playwright could trouble propaganda imperatives as well as support them. In sum, while Shakespeare was a cornerstone of British wartime nationalism, he additionally served as a register of cultural, regional, and social difference.
This chapter considers how, in six successful Shakespeare films, exclusively cinematic formal methods of depicting battle serve to interpret and transform the plays’ perspectives on warfare. Special emphasis is placed on the concept (and deployment) of dialectical montage first developed by Sergei Eisenstein in his seminal 1929 essay, “The Dramaturgy of Film Form.” Though Eisenstein’s relatively rigid theory of montage has been endlessly appropriated, expanded and, at times, openly rejected by filmmakers and scholars alike, it remains ground zero for realist cinematic treatments of warfare and a key of sorts for deciphering individual filmmakers’ ideological orientations to their subject matter. The chapter argues that even the least overtly political film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays tend to reveal a certain preoccupation with the ethical, ideological, and, of course, hermeneutic implications of representing battle scenes in a medium that all but demands their representation.
Mailer’s interest in film dates back to his early career, when he went to Hollywood in a failed attempt to work on a screenplay with friend and mentor Jean Malaquais. Despite this failure, Mailer did return to filmmaking in the 1960s, ultimately making Wild 90, Beyond the Law, and Maidstone – three films that exemplify the kind of ambitious experimentation that defines so much of Mailer’s career. None of these films contain what could be considered a straightforward narrative; rather, Mailer instructed his actors to improvise around a theme while he let the camera run, later editing together hours of footage to create a more constrained piece. This chapter discusses Mailer’s journey to make these films, their reception, and the philosophy of cinema that influenced their creation, which Mailer outlines in his essay “Some Dirt in the Talk.”
Mailer assumed the role of a sharp literary critic throughout his career. His criticisms ranged from such pieces as 1959’s “Quick Evaluations of the Talent in the Room,” in which he offered brief appraisals of a number of his contemporaries, to his infamous review of Waiting for Godot (which he published without having seen the play), to more extended and thoughtful reviews of works by Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Franzen, and others.
The city's 'Americanness' has been disputed throughout US history. Pronounced dead in the late twentieth century, cities have enjoyed a renaissance in the twenty-first. Engaging the history of urban promise and struggle as represented in literature, film, and visual arts, and drawing on work in the social sciences, The City in American Literature and Culture examines the large and local forces that shape urban space and city life and the street-level activity that remakes culture and identities as it contests injustice and separation. The first two sections examine a range of city spaces and lives; the final section brings the city into conversation with Marxist geography, critical race studies, trauma theory, slow/systemic violence, security theory, posthumanism, and critical regionalism, with a coda on city literature and democracy.
Each generation has its version of the death-wish city. This chapter examines how representations of crime and violence evolved through various media cultures over the twentieth century, from hard-boiled novel to feature film and prestige television. It is particularly interested in verisimilitude as it relates to representations of crime and violence, and, with a few notable exceptions, explores texts that promoted the purported realism of their narratives and similarly set those stories in real urban locales, e.g. Dirty Harry’s San Francisco, Boyz n the Hood’s Los Angeles, and The Wire’s Baltimore. Contextualizing these sources within a dynamic period of urban history and a shifting media landscape, the chapter argues that literary representations of violence served as commentaries on the causes of, and solutions to, the social problem of crime; fed off and informed the era’s political culture; and conjured masculine fantasies of the white vigilante. As the urban crime problem evolved coinciding fictional narratives probed the human condition, exploring the sources of persistent violence and exposing the limits of such political responses as the wars on crime and drugs.
Eight of Roth’s works have been adapted into films, with mixed success. A film version of Goodbye, Columbus was released in 1969, followed by an adaptation of Portnoy’s Complaint. Aside from a TV version of The Ghost Writer in 1984, Roth’s work was largely absent in Hollywood until it received a “revival” of sorts decades later, with film versions of The Human Stain, The Dying Animal, The Humbling, and American Pastoral. In 2014, Listen Up, Philip! was also released – a film not based on a particular work of Roth’s but clearly inspired by Roth and his work in a number of ways. This chapter will provide an overview of these adaptations and their receptions, while also shedding light on the challenges of translating Roth into film.
Stoppard has written several screenplays and won a shared Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. He has also done considerable script-doctoring and directed the film of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. His ongoing engagement with film has continued to influence the cinematic dimension of his writing.
This chapter examines Brecht’s approach to film not as a mimetic means of reproducing reality but as an indexical means of producing reality. It considers key passages of “The Threepenny Trial” and several interwar fragments in order to elucidate Brecht’s distinction between actual and functional reality and to elaborate the concept of the cognitively capable masses, whose collective perception made recognition of actual reality possible. It then offers brief analyses of the key films Brecht worked on, Kuhle Wampe and Hangmen Also Die!, which provide examples of the strategies Brecht employed to bend film to his aims of modeling mass-based cognition and reality production. These attempts opposed industrial norms, cultural convention, and the regulatory force of the state. They succeeded infrequently if at all, as Brecht himself acutely realized. Assessing the success and failure of these experiments allows greater insight into the potential of the medium of film in the second quarter of the twentieth century and creates potentially useful points of comparison to the complex relationship between representational media and the networked production of reality in our own times.
This chapter continues to uncover Steinbeck’s interest in Mexico (and the Mexican Revolution) and his relevance as a thinker on the Global South and its social inequalities. Turning to Steinbeck’s collaborative projects in Mexico, the documentary film about water sanitation, The Forgotten Village, and The Pearl--both novel and film made with the Mexican director Emilio Fernandez--we encounter experimental artistic forms that embody a transamerican political vision. If The Forgotten Village fails in its efforts to politicize and improve the living conditions of the indigenous peoples it depicts, then The Pearl represents a more successful attempt to participate in history. Comparing the novel and the film reveals a creative dialogue between Steinbeck and Fernandez, in which the novel’s techniques of sound and vision look forward to its existence as a film. Together with a new understanding of uncertainty and of a human consciousness extending into and capable of changing the world, The Pearl has a curious temporality that imagines society on the verge of revolutionary change.
Performance and poetry, song composition and music, and other cultural activities are popular as strategic ways to revitalize minoritized languages. Language activists may both reclaim forsaken linguistic art forms, like traditional storytelling, song and oratory performances, and also experiment with new forms of artistic expression. When music, literary traditions and film are employed in innovative ways by language and cultural promoters, language is embodied and becomes present, not just in everyday life but in larger public spaces – e.g. in plays, performances and festivals, on TV and online. The chapter discusses examples, principles and guidelines, and challenges involved in working with arts, music and other cultural activities. The capsules give examples of language transmission through the arts: the fest-noz night festivals in Breton have become a significant revitalization tool; modern music genres are prominent in grassroots efforts in Latin America; and the Jersey Song Project facilitates collaborative songwriting between local musicians and Jèrriais speakers. Wymysiöeryś, Ainu and Mexican examples are also given.
This contribution explores the ‘afterlives’ of Ibsen and his works within mass media and popular culture. Arguing that adaptations to popular media both promote and problematize the status and cultural capital of the works or of the dramatist, this chapter explores examples of remediations through film, television, comics and the tourist industry. Cinematic examples span from Oscar Apfel’s 1915 filmatization of Peer Gynt to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws from 1975, which builds on An Enemy of the People. The section on television production maps how Ibsen’s plays shaped the new medium in Norway. The section on comics explores the recent explosion of Ibsen-related projects, spearheaded by acclaimed graphic novelist David Zane Mairowitz’s 2014 collaboration with Norwegian comics artist Geir Moen. The contrast between tourist attractions that depict Ibsen’s life and those that seek to immerse visitors in a fictive world, such as the A Doll’s House exhibition, frames the section on museums and tourism. Long viewed as irrelevant to the study of Ibsen, these areas are attracting increasing attention, both because they are interesting in their own right, and because they have become important forms of cultural production and engagement in the late modern era.
This introduction distinguishes angelification (becoming an angel) from angelomorphism (becoming like an angel), although it acknowledges ambiguity. After briefly discussing angelification in modern literature and film, it defines both angels and daimones in the ancient sense, discusses the analogous concept of a hero, and distinguishes angelification and daimonification from the broader concept of deification in the ancient world.
Kenneth Branagh acted in and directed more Shakespeare plays than any other filmmaker before him; yet he also defied what was expected from a Shakespearean actor-director. First, he used the codes of Hollywood cinema to make the plays entertaining and available to a younger, more popular audience. Second, he not only adapted Shakespeare but also ventured into directing Hollywood blockbusters, as well as more intimate projects on stage and screen, injecting Shakespearean echoes into a new range of productions. Through his taste for popular, mainstream movies, his bold self-made trajectory that carried him repeatedly in and out of the ‘Establishment’, Branagh has contributed to redefining relations between Shakespeare and Hollywood, between the art house and the multiplex, and between theatre and cinema. Through his ceaselessly renewed ‘vaulting ambition’ of bringing Shakespeare to the people, Branagh has constructed over the years the ideologically complex persona of a working-class Shakespearean entrepreneur.
This chapter explores Zeffirelli’s three Shakespearean films, The Taming of the Shrew (1967), Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Hamlet (1990), well known for the visual banquets they constitute, the memorable soundscapes they feature and their stimulating casting choices. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest that, as designer and director, Zeffirelli has managed to combine movement and fixity, so that these films can be regarded as living monuments. Far from being mere visual decoration, the designs that are at the heart of Zeffirelli’s films are infused with life and reinvigorate the vision of the plays. Analysing ‘household stuff’ coming to life in The Taming of the Shrew, the battle of energies in Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet’s labyrinth of fury, the chapter shows how the architecture and design of the films make them monuments. There is a lot of art in this matter. There is a lot of life in these monuments.
This chapter explores representations of fantasy and romance in Anglo-American screen productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. It is particularly concerned with how filmmakers of these plays make the fantastical and the romantic believable yet sufficiently otherworldly. Films of A Midsummer Night’s Dream discussed include those by directors Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle (1935), Peter Hall (1968), Adrian Noble (1996), and Michael Hoffman (1999). Each uses numerous elements from the cinematic toolbox to create plausible versions of Shakespeare’s faerie world. Films of The Tempest considered include those by Derek Jarman (1979) and Julie Taymor (2010). Airy spirit that he is, Ariel in The Tempest is kin to the fairies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Thus directors of The Tempest are faced with similar challenges of crafting verisimilitude as their counterparts face working on A Midsummer Night’s Dream; each meets those challenges with their idiosyncratic aplomb that does justice to Shakespeare.
This chapter considers the ways in which filmmakers have established the ‘tragic universe’ in screen adaptations of Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, through attention to the environment. Filmmakers repeatedly foreground the interplay between human body, physical surroundings and filmic space in ways that foreground the tragic environment as subjectively experienced and produced, and in turn see that environment producing and influencing its human subjects. The chapter moves between three kinds of tragic environment. The open spaces of films by Akira Kurosawa, Roman Polanski, Justin Kurzel, and Grigori Kozintsev frame human conflict within the natural world, a world that often suffers ecological catastrophe alongside its inhabitants, but which also endures. Another strand of films, including work by Michael Almereyda, Penny Woolcock, Don Boyd and Vishal Bhardwaj, establishes urban environments that privilege an interpretive focus on community, claustrophobia, consumption, and class. Finally, other filmmakers from Laurence Olivier to Kit Monkman, as well as directors of stage-to-screen adaptations, utilise cinematic technique to foreground inner psychological space, with environments constructed subjectively around their protagonists.
This chapter considers the treatment of ethnic and cultural identity in adaptations of two plays in which they are an integral element, The Merchant of Venice and Othello. Complex characterization is in danger of being short-circuited by unconscious bias, pulling audiences back to racial stereotypes, dehumanizing Shylock and Othello despite the efforts of well-intentioned filmmakers. In The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitism and its consequences in recent and current politics unavoidably complicate a play whose romantic elements are already made uneasy by issues of patriarchal control and materialism. In Othello the challenges of representing ‘the Moor’ himself are not simply resolved by casting an actor of colour in the role. Productions also have to deal with the manner in which agency is wrested from the titular hero by a villain who can seem to have taken charge of way the audience perceives the action.
Concentrating on adaptations of As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night, this chapter argues that Shakespeare’s comedies on screen constitute a significant and cross-fertilizing body of work. Scriptwriters have pursued imaginative routes through the syntax of the comedies, and there has been considerable experiment in terms of updating Shakespeare’s language. Comedy is the genre where constructions of gender/sexuality are often expressed with filmmakers recognizing in Shakespeare’s comedies opportunities to explore agency, voice and embodiment. The comedies on screen anticipate many of the themes energizing recent criticism, and in this there is a pronounced self-consciousness. Harking back to earlier experiments, the most recent Shakespearean comedies showcase their own artifice along with strategies of revision dependent on a dense intertextuality.
Though films on Shakespeare have been made in India since 1923, it is Vishal Bhardwaj’s tragic trilogy, Maqbool (2004), Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014) that has caught international critical attention. The essay examines Bhardwaj’s predilection for Shakespeare, the reception of his films and his auteur’s style of filmmaking and adaptation, which straddles both the global and the local. It argues that his remaking of Shakespeare deploys popular features of Bollywood cinema, e.g. adding back stories and songs, but adjusts them to enable the narrative of the plays to speak to the situations of today. His versions radicalise the women, intervene in Indian contexts and modify the tragic endings. They reflect a poetic sensibility that delves deep into Shakespeare to produce perceptive and layered cinematic visualisations of the plays.