Saturday, July 11, 2009

Richard III

I finally finished Parts 2 and 3 of Shakespeare's Henry VI and watched Richard III. I watched the Lawrence Olivier version and for extra nerdiness I followed along in my Riverside Shakespeare, causing my husband to stand in awe of me when he got home that night and caught me. Well, he stood in amazement that I had hit a new nerdy low anyway. Or what he thought was a new nerdy low. I did this mulitple times for my undergrad Shakespeare course. Dr. Youmans was big on emphasizing that they are plays and should be watched, not just read, so we were required to watch 10 Shakespeare movies in addition to our reading assignments. It was great because you could check out the BBC versions of almost all of the plays from the library and they were word for word, so it made the reading a lot easier. We read 16 plays and all of the sonnets that semester, so that help was greatly appreciated. I used a few other versions for part of my 10, but the BBC ones were wonderful.

Because I agree with Dr. Youmans on the importance of watching Shakespeare, not just reading him, I decided to watch Richard III. It followed along with the text pretty closely, and most of the changes were just combining scenes so that sometimes things were slightly out of order. For example, if scenes one and three had the same people, they might run together and then you'd go to scene two. And some of Richard's lines were combined and the lines in between were deleted. Olivier was incredible. It was interestingly staged as well. It seemed more like watching a play most of the time, although it wasn't a film of a play the way the BBC versions are. The ending scene and the "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" line was powerful.

Once again, I was left wishing that things were taught differently in school. Dr. Youmans in the only teacher I ever had who insisted on the importance of watching Shakespeare, except for maybe a drama teacher. All other teachers talk about how reading them is important, and often even analyize things that are strictly part of the writing. That doesn't diminish the fact that he's a great writer, but I just think that should be emphasized more. Explain that he's like a screenwriter today. Compare him to J.J. Abrams and maybe kids would be more interested.

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