Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Four Reasons We Need a New Taming of the Shrew Movie

Have you ever started watching a movie, and turned it off before the show was even halfway through? I must confess that when I watch TV or movies I have a tendency to watch everything - yes, even Random Reality Shows Set In Malibu - all the way to the end. This is (part of) why I really should never, never, never have a TV in the house.
Yet, among the few times that I have not finished a movie, I must number four, yes count them, FOUR versions of The Taming of the Shrew!!! Weird, right? Clearly, someone needs to make a good one. Any filmmakers reading this, your task is before you...

Although I hate to post any negativity on this generally groovin' blog, in the interest of helping you avoid these videos like the plague, I have decided to post my top four partially-watched reasons we need a new Taming of the Shrew movie:

1. The ShakespeareRe-Told, New BBC Version (2005)
Within the first few minutes, I was disappointed to find that they had written their own - not clever, and utterly crude - dialogue. It's cheating to try to pass such stuff off as Shakespeare! Time to move on.

2. The Comedia dell'arte Version (1976)
The lines are delivered stiffly - seemingly in an effort to keep the dialogue from distracting us from the equally stiff pantomimes. A lot of visual monotony, which was occasionally and startlingly broken by some rather embarrassing spandex.

3. The Zeffirelli Version (1967)
Just gorgeous visually, but very slo-o-w - and it doesn't help that the lucky few Shakespearean lines that were chosen to appear in this movie are often repeated over and over (why?).
Also, literally every single time - every time! - Petruchio (played by Richard Burton) speaks, his dialogue is punctuated by this: *evil cackle*, while Katherine (Elizabeth Taylor) generally runs about breaking furniture in the background. Honestly, the characterization work in this film would only be pleasing to those whose vision of Petruchio is of a mean, possibly insane, dipsomaniac, resembling no one so much as King Henry VIII in his later years (note that half of Henry VIII's wives were named Katherine. Coincidence? I think not.).
Thankfully, Zeffirelli made some other - quite excellent, movies - so we can enjoy his work elsewhere.

Franco Zeffirelli, looking worried about his production of The Taming of the Shrew. However, note that his Romeo and Juliet is not bad, and his Hamlet is totally awesome. Unrelated: he also designed some extremely cool opera productions.

4. Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Writers always write about writers, Broadway people love making musicals about the stage. It just doesn't have much to do with Shakespeare. If you adore 1950's musical technicolor dance sequences, this might be a great film for you. I regret to have to warn you, though, that I personally found them ghastly (and this is coming from someone that deeply appreciates the Broadway musical genre). My advice: watch Singin' in the Rain instead (a musical about show business from around the same time, but a lot more fun!).

Singin' in the Rain

I hope to report back on some better versions of the Taming of the Shrew in the next blog post!

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