Romeo and Juliet

Romeo & Juliet, 2553 A.D.

Date: 2007
Posted by: mcdonaldjm
Cast: Meaghan Sloane (Chorus), Richard Jau (Sampson), Mitch Ryan (Gregory), Jeff Heilman (Abram), Jim Raley (Benvolio), Jordan Gebhardt (Tybalt), Fred Tollini, S.J. (The Prince), Bruce McDonald (Montagu), Victoria McDonald (Lady Montagu), Jon McDonald (Romeo), Arbiter (Juliet)
Credits: Directed and edited by Jon McDonald, music from the score to Titus (2000) by Elliot Goldenthal: Philimelagram, Arrows of the Gods, and Tamora’s Pastorale
Duration: 8.53 (part 1), 4.36 (part 2)

There is a whole genre out there of machinima versions of Shakespeare. Machinima are animations usally made using video game software, where fans of games such as Halo, Call of Duty, Second Life, World of Warcraft etc., and repply the figures and backgrounds to their own narratives. An increasing number have chosen to recreate scenes from Shakespeare in this form, frequently emphasising battle sequences, and mostly playing on the comic disparity between Shakespeare’s scenes and the outlandish figures of the fantasy worlds of video games.

This school project adaptation of Romeo & Juliet Act 1 Scene 1 uses imagery from the game Halo 3. It is both typical and distinctive among the genre. Typical, because of the comic effect of bizarre science fiction figures uttering Shakespeare’s words and the time devoted to the battle scene. Distinctive, because so many of Shakespeare’s words are heard. Unike other examples of the genre, which either paraphrase the text or use just a few key lines, here the filmmakers offers us reasonably long stretches of dialogue (albeit with some modern paraphrases) that draw us all the more into this unearthly world where Montagus and Capulets are luridly coloured robots from 500 years hence. The brawl between the two camps is well chosen (the Spartans and the Elites from the original game), though the absence of Juliet herself (beyond a wordless appearance portrayed by the Halo 3 character Arbiter) tends to render the video’s title an irrelevance. There are two parts, taking us not very far into the play, but far enough to recognise that an imaginative work has been realised.

Links:
Part 1
Part 2
Wikipedia on Machinima

Infinite Monkey Syndrome

Date: 2012
Posted by: James R. Ford
Cast: Not given
Credits: Produced by James R. Ford
Duration: 1.30

A few months ago it was reported that US programmer Jesse Anderson had set up a virtual set of some millions of monkeys (using Hadoop), all of them tying at random on virtual typewriters, and had managed produce something that was 99.99% Shakespeare – the first text to be achieved in this way being ‘A Lover’s Complaint’. Anderson had cut corners however, because every time the random typing came up with words that roughly matched something from the Shakespeare canon then they would be retained, if not then discarded. With this and other constraints, Anderson could achieve his goal. The purely random production of Shakespeare by an infinite number of monkeys remains something for the philosophers and theoretical mathematicians.

Or for a videomaker. This droll piece, made by British artist James R. Ford, is an extract from a 9 minutes 8 second loop (therefore designed in principle to run forever). It shows us a woman in a monkey suit, typing Shakespeare, as the tags to the video tell us, because otherwise we would not know (a photograph of the typewriter on the artist’s website indicates that only gibberish has been produced – so far). Is is a Shakespeare video? I say that it is – and so it is (and just to make the point this post has been tagged with all of the plays and poems). A video to watch, infinitely.

Jesse Anderson explains more about his project on this video:

Links:
Vimeo page
BBC online news item on Jesse Anderson’s project
Jesse Anderson’s Million Monkeys Project
James R. Ford’s personal website

Romeo speech from Romeo and Juliet

Date: 2011
Posted by:RSC Sound & Fury
Cast: Dyfan Dwyfor (Romeo)
Credits: None
Duration: 1.24

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Sound & Fury project brings together contemporary spoken-word and hip-hop artists and Shakespeare, working with London schoolchildren. ‘Word-artists’ and actors taking part have included polarbear, Kate Tempest, Toby Thompson, and here actor Dyfan Dwyfor giving Romeo’s speech from beneath Juliet’s balcony, “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?”. With apposite contemporary feel, he gives the speech to a self-held camera while standing in a street with traffic going by. He gives every impression of providing a quick confidence to the camera before uploading the results onto YouTube. The video opens and ends abruptly, consciously not crafted except to be in a form that its target audience will instinctively understand. Hopefully.

Some of the results of some of the work with students in 2011 are seen here, in this fourteen-year-old’s sharp-worded riff on the Hamlet soliloquy.

Links:
Vimeo page
RSC Sound & Fury

Juliet must die

Date: 2009
Posted by: P.M.
Cast: P.M. (presumably)
Credits: Produced in association with the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Adaption by P.M. Voice by András Cséfalvay. Photography by Matúš Bence, Martina Slováková. Editing by Peter Kotrha. Grip, Vladimir Biskupský. Music, Samuel Barber ‘Adagio for Strings’, Richard Wagner ‘Liebestod’
Duration: 4.52

After a period of unenforced silence, BardBox returns with a new look but the same purpose: to locate, document and present new forms of Shakspearean production that are being produced as online videos. This distinctive reverie inspired by Romeo and Juliet is a fine example of the genre, helped by having a great title (echoing the feature film Romeo Must Die). This is a highly personalised take on Shakespeare’s heroine, with whom the filmmaker clearly feels a strong affinity. She calls the film “a short self- portrait based on the last lines of Romeo’s character” (actually a mixture of lines spoken by Romeo in Act 1, “O brawling love! O loving hate!”, and his last words, ending “I still will stay with thee/ And never from this palace of dim night / Depart again: here, here will I remain”). It is Romeo’s word we hear, quietly spoken, while we see a woman lost in thought in some woods, caught between memories and intimations of death. The filmmaker describes her interpretation as

… a melancholic story of struggle set in the dully dreamscape that witnesses unabled emotional states of longing and despair. At given time a rush towards reconciliation to death reveals a brief, fleeting moment of connection between ‘star-crossed’ lovers until the dream to dwell is shattered.

Starting point of self-stageing [sic] fiction is using the concept of the cinematic fundamental apparatus based on intensive, emotional and cognitive relationship of the spectator with the spectacular female body coded as “to- be- look- at- ness”.

Interpret that how you will, but what we seem to get is Juliet’s predicament as a jumping-off point for personal reflection rather than any precise correlative to Shakespeare’s character, with the images ultimately defying textual interpretation because they are intended to linger in the mind as images. The video is beautifully shot, and the production Slovakian in original, with Romeo’s words appearing as Slovak subtitles, as well as being spoken in English (“O brawling love! O loving hate!). As with the many Ophelia videos and photo-montages to be found, this is evidence of the deep identification with Shakespeare’s doomed heroines that is finding heartfelt expression in the online world.

Links:
Vimeo page

Rómeó és Júlia

Date: 2009
Posted by: BalazsSimon
Cast: animation
Credits: Produced by Simon Balázs, music by Yuki Kajiura: ‘Akatsuki no Kuruma’
Duration: 2.37

This delicate piece of Hungarian animation takes the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet and through a few graceful gestures manages to express, love, freedom of the spirit, and the death that awaits the star-crossed lovers. Sentimental, yes, but in its brief way it is perfectly expressed.

Links:
YouTube page

Romeo & Juliet

Date: 2008
Posted by: ylpiaocai
Cast: Ben Cunis (Romeo), Courtney Pauroso (Juliet)
Credits: Produced by SilhouetteFilm. Stage production directed by Paata Tsikurishvili, choreography by Irina Tsikurishvili
Duration: 2.26

A trailer for a production of Romeo and Juliet by Synetic Theater, the company founded by Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili which specialises in silent interpretations of the classics. Its theatre production have included Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, as well as several non-Shakespearean works. They describe their work thus:

Synetic Theater seeks to advance and enrich the theater arts through presentation and education in its unique performance style of a synthesis of the arts, fusing the classical elements of drama, movement, dance, mime, and music into a distinct form of non-realistic theater.

In truth the result seems to be ballet as much as anything, but it is vivid theatre nonetheless, with its heart lying in silent cinema quite as much as in dance. Unlike many theatre trailers, the video reflects the essence of the theatrical experience.

Links:
SilhouetteFilm
Synetic Theater
YouTube page

The Play’s the Thing… That I Hate

Date: 2008
Posted by: TheLionHaired
Credits: Filmed by Derek
Cast: Derek
Duration: 3.57

TheLionHaired (handsome title, but his real name’s Derek) hates Shakespeare. He hates Chaucer too, but particularly he hates Shakespeare. Why do the characters take so long to say so little? Just look at Hamlet. Why to the characters do dumb stuff which just isn’t plausible, much like characters in horror movies? Romeo and Juliet were just idiots. All they had to do was run away to Mantua. And in Macbeth, what was the point of murdering Banquo? And Brutus killing Julius Caesar, that’s just wrong. Titus is OK, but he just held back too much. “If Lavinia had been my daughter – and what happened to her – I would have been a little more active”. In general he hates Shakespeare. Or maybe it’s just the plays. Because he quite likes the poetry…

Sorry, Derek, but I don’t believe you. This diatribe shows too much eloquence, just a little too much knowledge of the plays. I can hardly think of a better example of a video to stimulate a class discussion than what is on display here. I think Shakespeare’s has got to you more than you may know, as yet.

Links:
YouTube page