Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shakespearean Recommendations: in Full Color

Before we left for Nigeria, I discovered "Romeo X Juliet", an Anime version of the classic, on YouTube. The entire two season, 24 episode show is there for free (or was a few months ago). The first season is a very interesting reimagining of most of the story -- medieval fantasy with flying "dragon-steeds," a much better palace intrigue, and topped off with the usual environmental message of man's evil destroying the balance of nature. In this version, Juliet is the only survivor of the royal house of Capulet who were all murdered by Romeo's evil father in a bid to become king. The Bard himself is a character with a minor but important role. When they get to the second season, though, they've run out of Shakespeare and could have closed things off with 2-3 more episodes, ... but that wouldn't be enough for a whole new season, would it? So the second meanders a bit until the lovers are reunited for the dramatic climax. The title song uses the tune for "You Raise Me Up." Beautiful artistry, good retelling, worth watching again. [And remember, folks, this IS Shakespearean tragedy -- parental discretion advised.]

The last several weeks have also seen a very playful rendition of MacBeth (now how often do you hear MacBeth called playful?) by webcomic HousePets.  It has been so very entertaining that I picked up my collection just to read the original for the first time so I could appreciate the comic more. (Any time I've thought of it, it's always surprised me I've never seen or read either MB or King Lear, so I'm glad to get one out of the way. Of course I'm familiar with the plot, main characters and some choice lines - even wrote a Star Wars parody of the sisters' chanting - but it's different reading it in the original Klingon, as they say.) Reading it all has brought all my favorite parodies of it to mind, too, Peter Shickele's set of 'modern' Shakespeare songs top among them. My favorite line so far from the original is MacBeth's after his "discovery" of the murder: "Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a blessed time...". Beautiful stuff. Or you can try the parody:

And then they make him king. Greeeeeat.

Not in full color, I can also recommend this rendition of Hamlet starring Groucho Marx. Any recommendations for other excellent renditions and parodies?
 -- Derrill

(For those wondering, some children who lived by us in our first apartment called anything animated "full color" to differentiate it from live action color movies, which did not suit their pallet.)