Friday, May 22, 2015

Magic Prison

Here's something I don't know anything about: CYMBELINE by William Shakespeare. Took the newish movie version of it over to Lee Durkee's. Lee - who doesn't usually care for this kind of coy tampering - was pretty excited that it is set in the world of motorcycle gangs. But there weren't enough motorcycles to suit him! There were hardly any. Motorcycles were usually represented by an offscreen revving. One character pushes his out-of-gas motorbike down a country path. A bad boyfriend glumly glides along on his skateboard. "Why didn't they make Cymbeline the king of a skateboard gang?" Lee said. After the movie was over, Lee said he didn't like it - not enough motorcycles! - and he didn't like the play, either. He theorized that it was just a Beaumont-and-Fletcher mashup of Shakespeare, a kind of Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, "Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending," is one way Lee put it. He challenged me to think of any compelling use of language in what we had just heard and seen. "When the guy said he was going to cut the other guy's head off and throw it into the sea and then it could tell the fishes it was the queen's son," I suggested. "That was the best line in the movie," Lee admitted. "And I liked that one soliloquy," I said. "I want to look it up and see what it's all about. The one about being immured for life in a magic prison." Lee searched digitally through the text of CYMBELINE and couldn't find anything about a magic prison. A little more digging revealed the compelling passage to be an Emily Dickinson poem that the filmmakers just stuck in there! Which proved Lee's point, I guess.