City Journal Winter 2016

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Benjamin A. Plotinsky
Shakespeare Misplaced « Back to Story

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"Rather than entering the world of the story, you remain solidly outside it." Perhaps you did, but my wife and I did not. Yes, the setting is anachronistic, but in the face of such playing that mattered not at all.
Almost everything can be considered but a hand-held camera. A shaky camera is not creativity; that is an old coffee commercial or Uncle Bubba 'phone-filming a tornado while shrieking "Oh my God! Oh my God!" over and over.
Being as big a fan of Whedon as this reviewer is--and as 4th-wall-broken by anachronistic time/place shifts as he is--I have to concur completely with this review.

Another example of how anachronisms get in the way, Branaugh set his Hamlet in a big English castle--in midwinter. So when Ophelia dies covered in flowers, it nukes the fourth wall, even though the overall setting isn't modern.

As for this review, I appreciate his detailed giving Whedon & the cast credit where it's due despite his opposition to the basis for the project--setting it in his house in present day.

My only disagreement is that I've seen movies of bare-stage productions--most notably BBC's Shakespeare play project shown decades ago on PBS--and found it quite acceptable (all used authentic costumes, which helped)--and vastly preferable to anachronistic settings.

Another example of the awfulness of doing this in in the climactic battle of Richard III, where the villainous monarch is dashing about in a Jeep trying to off one competitor to the throne after another--no battle has had this basis since the 15th century, and only someone deeply ignorant of the real world then and now could find it acceptable.
Dr. Lamont Flanagan June 07, 2013 at 12:19 PM
The literary analysis of the Whedon work of art is a penetrating critique that praises the creative genius of Whedon and concurrently manifest the risks of exceeding the boundaries of artistic works cemented in a specific era of time.
Cracking review, indeed. But only if he's doing blow by the yard. To begin with:

-- "For years, you suppressed your unease as film directors set... Romeo and Juliet in modern American “Verona Beach.”

OMG ? That Verona could not more obviously have been Mexico City and Veracruz. As in Mexico, not "modern America."

As for the rest of it, for gawd sake beg Nicole to take at least half of her appreciable intelligence with her to local performances of Shakespeare. And then entertain us by writing up her impressions. Avoid embarrassments such as this mess. The plays have been thrown all over the place and for centuries -- not fodder for a feigned surprise.
I'll just dust off my copy of Branagh's 1993 beautiful version which in my humble opinion would be hard to improve on. My 10 year old daughter at that time understood and loved the dialogue and story.
Cracking review, sir!
I'm disappointed to read such a negative review of the movie. I was hopeful that Whedon could pull it off. Although I don't usually like reinterpretations of the setting outside the traditional story, I did think Coriolanus was well done, once I figured out what was going on.

Maybe he will have better luck on his next Shakespeare interpretation.