Sunday, May 25, 2014

My Introduction to Shakespeare

Shakespeare is in the air for Armitage fans this month since the release of the wonderful audiobook Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson and narrated by our versatile and amazingly talented Richard Armitage.

So as I slowly savor this wonderful audiobook and Richard's one man audio theater company,  I've been thinking of my own introduction to Shakespeare.

I first became aware of Shakespeare's work through the films of Laurence Olivier, one of my mother's favorite actors.  Now my mother's native language was not English but Spanish and as a very young woman she first saw Olivier's films, including his Shakespeare films, in our native country. When we came to live in the United States many, many, years later, she would always say to people who were speaking to her too fast in English for her to fully understand  "speak to me as a Shakespearean actor" because that way of speaking English she could fully understand.  (Of course, since we lived in the U.S., this was often seen as a very strange request! But that's another story, LOL.)

By the time I came around, and was old enough to watch and somewhat understand these films, they were on television. Now in those  TV days  of the 60's and 70's we didn't have cable, or even the technology to record and watch VHS tapes, we had to wait for these movies to be schedule for viewing on one of the three or four channels we had (sometimes less).  Luckily for my childhood classic films were very popular on afternoon television for many years. 

Whenever any Olivier films were on, my mother would watch religiously, and I along with her of course. I think I probably saw these films as a baby, and somehow through my childhood slowly absorbed them until I was old enough to view them on my own and understand and appreciate them fully. 

Later I read some of the plays at school, Hamlet of course among them. I have the collected plays in two or three volumes at home, but I confess not having read all of them, and not having looked at them for years.  Throughout my life I have been lucky to see many Shakespeare plays, dramas and comedies, on stage, including our wonderful Shakespeare Theater  here in DC.  

But whenever I think of Shakespeare and his plays I always first think of Olivier's films.  To this day they remain favorite film versions of Hamlet, Henry V, and Richard III.  

Laurence Olivier directed and acted in all three, filmed in the 40's and 50's. After several successful films in Hollywood, Olivier was approached by investors to bring Shakespeare to film audiences and the result were these three movies, filmed in three different styles. 

Henry V is interesting to me in the way Olivier approaches the play for film, because he goes back and forth between the play being performed on a theater stage, and the "real" action taking place in the palaces and battlefields in England and France.  It was also filmed at the end of World War II with England still at war.  My favorite of the films is Hamlet, filmed in black and white, in a "Scandinavian modern" style, and who can ever forget Olivier as Richard III. 

Below are my favorite moments and soliloquies from the films.

Henry V (1944)

Hamlet (1948)

Richard III (1955)

You can probably find all three films online or on YouTube. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Crucible Rehearsals On the Way and Spooks Colleagues at The Young Vic

Just because I love this photo! No Crucible Connection

and also Richard was spotted by an audience member at the Young Vic the other day (Twitter), he was also in the audience of the play " A View From The Bridge". No pics of Richard, seems he was there to see the play.  Not my story really to share, but just sharing he was seen and was there. 

You might recognize one of the actors starring in this play at the Young Vic. That's Nicola Walker, also known to us Spooks fans as Ruth, and one of Richard's colleagues on that show. 

A View from the Bridge is also an Arthur Miller play.  Below is a brief description from Wikipedia:

"The play is set in 1950s America, in an Italian American neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It employs a chorus and narrator in the character of Alfieri. Eddie, the tragic protagonist, has an improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine. Miller's interest in writing about the world of the New York docks originated with an unproduced screenplay that he developed with Elia Kazan in the early 1950s (entitled The Hook) that addressed corruption on the Brooklyn docks (Kazan would go on to direct On the Waterfront, which tackled the same subject). Miller said that he heard the basic account that developed into the plot of A View from the Bridge from a lawyer who worked with longshoremen, who related it to him as a true story."

Friday, May 16, 2014

London Calling - Crucible Meet and Greet Yesterday

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Crucible - Hint About Costume Design?

 Potrait by Pierre Gonnord
(my addition of photo, not from Soutra Gilmour 's website-another example of Gonnord's work)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Marie's Mind for Murder (Marie Brand) - International Mystery Series

As a middle-aged woman I'm always happy to see us portrayed as competent, capable, important and attractive on television and in films.  I'm also happy when I find women characters in general who remind me of real people and not moonlighting supermodels.  

One international police procedural series I'm enjoying for the reasons above, but for much more, is Marie's Mind for Murder, known in Germany as Marie Brand.  For those of us in the United States the series, the second for us, is now playing on MHz Networks Saturdays and you can check if it's playing in your area, but also you can watch the episodes online for a few days after the episode airs on TV.

The first series I watched, Marie returns to the police force after her father dies. She is a bit rusty at first, and her colleagues think she's been away too long, but she's ready to prove them wrong.  Her new partner is a younger detective, Jurgen Simmel, who is not at first too happy to be paired with this middle-aged woman. Simmel is a ladies man in his own mind, though that's a bit of a cover for his insecurities.  As they work together and get to know one another as people,  Simmel discovers Marie is a great detective, and Marie discovers Simmel is lonely and deep down a nice man.  

In the first series that played earlier here in the US, Marie was happily married or in a happy relationship. She and her husband seemed to have a relationship full of laughter and mutual admiration. He was an expert on reptiles and Marie seemed to share his passion for these creatures.  He wasn't happy when a murder happened right before their vacation or ruined their plans, and Marie had to go to work.  I liked their relationship and was sorry to see that in this second season Marie is alone.

Now in this second season seems there might be a bit of romance in the future for Marie and Simmel. There's part of me that's happy about this development, since we rarely see a May/December relationships when the younger partner is a man and the older partner is a woman.  Nothing has happened yet, but it's clear that Simmel is very interested in Marie, but she's still keeping him at a romantic distance.  I can understand Marie's reluctance, since I don't find Simmel an interesting man, though he's a good detective. Maybe as a viewer I need to be wooed a little more by this man too. 

Marie's character I like very much, she's a brave and resourceful woman, still fighting to be respected in a male dominated profession, yet keeping her sense of humor and her compassion for others. Marie relies on her instincts and her "little grey cells" to solve crimes. Like many fictional detectives, she's a bit unorthodox in her methods, and gets into more trouble than she should, but it all leads to the murderer at the end. 

In between the crimes and the police work there's humor in the series. I feel there's probably a lot of humor that I miss not speaking German, in the conversations between the characters, and especially between Marie and Simmel. But if a bit is lost in translation, you can still catch the humor in their body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. 

From my little bit of research the series started in 2008 and the last episode aired in Germany this year.  I don't know if it's been renewed beyond 2014. Looks like they've filmed 13 episodes so far. 

Mariele Millowitsch

Marie is played by German actor Mariele Millowitsch.   She comes from a German family of actors. Her family owns a theater in Cologne managed through the generations by her grandfather, father and now brother. Because of the family profession, Mariele grew up performing in the theater.

Found it interesting that she studied veterinary medicine in college, but never practiced.  The pull of the family business proved too strong and after graduation she returned to the stage.

She's known in Germany for her roles in other popular television series before Marie Brand and also internationally for film and TV roles. 

Hinnerk Schonemann

Jurgen Simmel is played by actor Hinnerk Schonemann.   He's been in many international films, including one of my favorite, The Lives of Others (2006) and War Horse (2011).


 A clip of the series - German only

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fun from Any Angle - Two Views of One Morris Men Interview at WonderCon 2014

Photo from On The Red Carpet

Angle #1

(thanks to Richard Armitage Bulgaria on FB)

Same interview, Angle #2

I want to watch every red carpet interview from now on from two different angles - I demand it members of the press - you've been denying us this wonderful experience long enough!

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