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Archive for March 19th, 2010

by Sam Juliano

     Measure For Measure, a complex Shakespeare play concerned mostly with issues of morality, is one of it’s creator’s least-performed plays, presumably because the work poses as many questions as it does answers.    In fact, literary scholars have long tabbed it a “problem play” with a contrived ending and a contradictory exploration of sexual politics.  It’s a tragicomedy that features a heroine who would rather see her brother beheaded than give up her virginity.  And it also showcases the dubious edicts of an abusive politician whose hypocricy mirrors present day antics and a clear violation of the old adage “practice what you preach.”

     The Duke of Vienna temporarily relinquishes control of his government, and places “Angelo”, a harsh interpretor of the law in control.  Angelo wastes no time in immediately condemning Claudio to death for getting his fiance pregnant.  Claudio’s sister Isabella, about to enter a convent, attempts to free her brother by approaching Angelo, only to face a desperate dilemma.  Angelo will issue a pardon to Claudio if Isabella sacrifices her virginity to him.  Meanwhile, the benevolent Duke, who has not really left at all, but stands in the wings assuming a disguise, observes this chosen replacement’s misdeeds.  The plot is basically a series of twists and turns, with Isabella’s story alternating with the comic hijinks of a constable named Elbow, a madam named Mistress Overdone, and a bartender called Pompey, among others.  The humor is transcribed broadly, much in a style reminiscent of traditional commedia dell’arte, which works effectively as contrasted with the serious resolution of Isabella’s plight.  Angelo of course, is the villain of the piece, but one must question the Duke, whose behavior is duplicitous as well, using lies, subterfuge and disguise to accomplish his well-intentioned ends.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USSR 1925 74m) DVD1/2

Aka. Bronenosets Potemkin

The lion roars

d/w/ed  Sergei M.Eisenstein  ph  Eduard Tissé, Vladimir Popov  m  Nikolai Kryukov (orig.Edmund Meisel)  art  Vasili Rakhals

Aleksandr Antonov (Vakulinchuk), Grigori Alexandrov (Chf.Off.Giliarovsky), Vladimir Barsky (Capt.Golikov), Levshin,

With the possible exception of Citizen Kane, is there a more critically revered movie than this?; topping all best film lists until Kane took its spot in the late fifties but still regarded as one of the most pivotal steps forward in the development of the seventh art.  Give or take twelve months Eisenstein was about the same age as Welles when he made Kane when he made his masterpiece, but even Kane cannot claim to have devised as many shots or been such a rich source for theoretical textbooks.  In short, it revolutionised the vocabulary of film unlike any other before or since. 

            Potemkin was commissioned to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Potemkin mutiny in 1905 and told the story from a purely aesthetic and propagandist point of view.  This is best exemplified by not only the heroic stances of the mutineers and the townsfolk of Odessa who back them but in the fact that the film ends prior to the actual putting down of the revolt.  Soviet propaganda did not allow such a noble failure to be documented as such, preferring to concentrate on the Tsarist regime that treated its sailors so despicably.  All authority figures represent the evil regime (“death to the oppressors!” cry the crew over Antonov’s body), and as in Dovzhenko’s Earth, one member of the clergy in particular is painted very blackly.  (more…)

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