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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Forbidden Planet, 1956 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on February 13, 2010

Director: Fred M Wilcox
Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Robby the Robot

Score: 9/10

Reviewed by pjowens75

When it comes to FORBIDDEN PLANET, most science fiction enthusiasts bow their heads in reverence. It is considered by many to be the Holy Grail of early science fiction movies. Even John Clute, in his Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says it “remains one of the few masterpieces of sf cinema.” Most fans are aware that it is, loosely speaking, an updated version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and that it introduced Robby, the Robot, who actually went on to star in his own film, The Invisible Boy, and became the model for sci-fi robots for years to come. But what does all of that mean, in English, and is it even worth watching today?

FORBIDDEN PLANET begins with a starship crew’s arrival on planet Altaira to rescue the inhabitants of a colony that has been out of communication for years. After initially being warned to leave the planet alone, the crew (led by Leslie Nielsen, with Warren Stevens and Jack Kelly as ship’s doctor and first mate, respectively) lands to discover Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter, Alta (Anne Francis), as the sole surviving colonists. However, it seems that the two don’t want to be rescued at all. In fact, with the assistance of their faithful servant/robot, Robby, they have fashioned themselves quite the little paradise, and have no desire to be “rescued” from anything. But after a little investigating, Commander Adams (Nielsen) discovers that the rest of the original colonists were all killed by an invisible monster who is now attacking the crew of the starship. To make things worse, the monster seems to be a physical manifestation of Dr. Morbius’s “id” and is a result of his tapping into an unlimited power source left behind by an extinct, but incredibly advanced civilization, the knowledge of which he feels is not ready to be revealed to the rest of humanity.

Okay, let’s all stop for a second and catch our breath. That’s all pretty ambitious for a typical 1950s sci-fi flick. Fortunately, FORBIDDEN PLANET is NOT your typical sci-fi film. Instead of focusing on the monster, as would most 50s fare, writers Irving Block (story) and Cyril Hume (screenplay) have crafted a remarkably intelligent script that focuses more on the internal conflicts of Dr. Morbius as he deals with his guilt over the deaths of the other colonists, and his concerns about the well-being of his maturing daughter. Walter Pidgeon handles all of this quite well, with his usual furrowed brow and occasional raised eyebrow as he watches his daughter’s first contacts with young males of her species. Anne Francis has perhaps the most difficult role as the blossoming young woman who, since she was born after the other colonists had died, has known no other human being other than her father. In what has since become a staple of science fiction TV series (just how many young girls did Capt. James T. Kirk teach how to “kiss” correctly?), Alta enthusiastically approaches the new experience of “men” as eagerly as the all male crew approaches the first female they’ve seen in over a year. And while I usually have a problem with Anne Francis’s porcelain makeup and good looks, they work quite well here. And although I was a fan of Leslie Nielsen long before his career revival as a comic in Airplane! And The Naked Gun, I couldn’t help but imagine him ending an exchange with Morbius with “And don’t call me Shirley.”

Director Fred McLeod Wilcox, whose best known films to this point were Lassie Come Home and The Secret Garden, does a very good job of keeping the pace moving and not getting bogged down in the intellectual dialogues at the center of the story. With the exception of the crews’ spaceship (which looks exactly as you would imagine a 1950’s “flying saucer” to look like), the sets, matte paintings (especially those used in the interior of the alien technology), and special effects all hold up amazingly well, even by today’s standards, and don’t look “dated”. Most amazing, to me, was the unique “score” by composers Bebe and Louis Berron, which is entirely made up of “electronic tonalities” and is quite effectively used to set the mood and highlight the action throughout the film.

So to me, at least, FORBIDDEN PLANET is one of those few remarkable 50s science fiction films that is just as effective if watched today as it was 50 years ago. There are a few laughable moments, both intentional (the ship’s cook (Earl Holliman) conning Robby into replenishing his supply of whiskey) and not (the commander’s constant use of the loud speaker aboard ship when the entire crew of 18 is gathered around him), but overall it holds up quite nicely and is well deserving of its rank in the hierarchy of science fiction movies. Check it out…it’s worth it.

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Brian Cox teaches a toddler to recite Shakespeare

Posted by LiveFor on December 13, 2009

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Kenneth Branagh acted out the whole Thor film

Posted by LiveFor on June 18, 2009

In his latest Cup O’ Joe column, Joe Quesada spoke about his time with Thor director Kenneth Branagh and head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige. He mentioned one specific meeting as “one of the highlights of my time here at Marvel”.

“It was performance art,” Quesada recalled. “Kevin would give us the establishment of the shot and the situation: ‘Here we are. We’re in (take your pick of location). And here’s Odin and he’s coming up to (pick a character.)’ And then Kenneth would come in and give you the color commentary. ‘Odin has an air of majesty to him’ and he’d act out the Odin part or the Thor part. So we sat there and literally got a three-hour one-man show from Kenneth Branagh. It was fantastic.”

Quesada said that the “very Shakespearean” Kenneth Branagh had a phenomenal grasp on the characters of Thor, Loki, Odin and the rest of the film’s cast.

He’s definitely about character, which is the quintessential trait you have to have to understand the Marvel characters,” he said. “It’s not just big hammers and capes and things like that. It’s about what makes the character tick. There’s definitely a reason for Thor, a reason for him being and a very deep family relationship and story in the movie that I think is going to be very cool.”

“I think it’s going to be [a tougher sell] on the surface,” he said when asked if it was going to be harder to market the film compared to Iron Man. “[But we’ve] got plans already to get Thor’s name out within a younger group of kids. I think the upcoming ‘Super Hero Squad’ and ‘Avengers Animated’ shows are going to do wonders to get that across, and then we’re working on a couple of ancillary things here and there to boost the desire for kids in particular to know more about Thor and the general public as well.”

I would love to see some video of Branagh acting out the Thor film. It would be amazing to watch. I wonder if he will have a cameo in the film as Jon Favreau did (although it was a bit more than a cameo) in Iron Man.

The more I hear about the Thor film the more excited I get.

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Hamlet as an action horror film?

Posted by LiveFor on June 16, 2009

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke talked with Movieline about her plans for the Emile Hirsch-led contemporary update of Hamlet at the recent Young Hollywood Awards.

Tone wise, Hardwicke says “It’s really like a thriller. From the day Hamlet’s father dies, three days later eight people are dead and a ghost is telling him to murder for revenge so we’re doing it as a suspense thriller”.

There’ll be some additions as well – “All the action that often is off camera, we’re showing it in great vivid detail. It’s scary…you’re going to see a lot of crazy stuff.”

Asked about comparisons with another contemporary set Hamlet, Michael Almereyda’s 2000 drama starring Ethan Hawke, Hardwicke says her film will be a lot “shorter and tighter”.

Anyone else hear alarm bells after reading that?

Source: Dark Horizons

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Anthony Stewart Head in a futuristic Macbeth

Posted by LiveFor on June 4, 2009

The always excellent Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy, Merlin) has starred as Duncan in a futuristic version of Macbeth according to io9.

Director Nicholas Paton, who adapted the play with Fergus March (who also plays the title role), provided a tantalizing description of Head’s role way back in 2006:

“Tony plays Duncan as a spitting, cigar-chomping criminal leader, with a soft Glaswegian accent that can turn in an instant from warm and affectionate to fatally menacing. As Duncan he plays a pivotal role in the film – he is both Macbeth’s boss and paternal figure, whom Macbeth is driven to murder by his own uncontrollable ambition. The murder of Duncan reflects the loss of the last of the old-school gangsters as a new generation rise to power, a generation without the same moral sensibilities and rules of conduct as Duncan’s – much as Brando’s Don Corleone is ousted by a younger more reckless generation in The Godfather.”

However, it appears that there have been some problems during the editing process and reshoots have been needed. Unfortunately, it looks as if Anthony won’t be able to do them.

“That last I heard of it, somebody called me who was editing it and said, ‘We’ve got a few issues with various things that might need re-shooting. And I thought, ‘Well, you kind of had me when you had me. I’m shooting in France. I can’t really do it.’ So I don’t know what’s going on with that, but there were just a few issues of things differing from one scene to another. What I saw and what I was in was great, and I sincerely hope it will get some kind of release.”

Set in the future but using Shakespeare’s original dialogue? Sounds bizarre yet cool. I’ll keep you posted as and when I find anything new on this.

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Anthony Stewart Head in a futuristic Macbeth

Posted by LiveFor on June 4, 2009

The always excellent Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy, Merlin) has starred as Duncan in a futuristic version of Macbeth according to io9.

Director Nicholas Paton, who adapted the play with Fergus March (who also plays the title role), provided a tantalizing description of Head’s role way back in 2006:

“Tony plays Duncan as a spitting, cigar-chomping criminal leader, with a soft Glaswegian accent that can turn in an instant from warm and affectionate to fatally menacing. As Duncan he plays a pivotal role in the film – he is both Macbeth’s boss and paternal figure, whom Macbeth is driven to murder by his own uncontrollable ambition. The murder of Duncan reflects the loss of the last of the old-school gangsters as a new generation rise to power, a generation without the same moral sensibilities and rules of conduct as Duncan’s – much as Brando’s Don Corleone is ousted by a younger more reckless generation in The Godfather.”

However, it appears that there have been some problems during the editing process and reshoots have been needed. Unfortunately, it looks as if Anthony won’t be able to do them.

“That last I heard of it, somebody called me who was editing it and said, ‘We’ve got a few issues with various things that might need re-shooting. And I thought, ‘Well, you kind of had me when you had me. I’m shooting in France. I can’t really do it.’ So I don’t know what’s going on with that, but there were just a few issues of things differing from one scene to another. What I saw and what I was in was great, and I sincerely hope it will get some kind of release.”

Set in the future but using Shakespeare’s original dialogue? Sounds bizarre yet cool. I’ll keep you posted as and when I find anything new on this.

Discuss in the forum or leave a comment below.

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Emile Hirsch to play Hamlet

Posted by LiveFor on June 3, 2009

Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk, Speed Racer) has signed on to play Hamlet in a new feature adaptation of William Shakespeare’s renowned tragedy. Catherine Hardwicke, fresh off directing Twilight, is set to direct the film with a script by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia).

Hamlet tells the story of a young man faced with the dilemma of whether he should exact revenge on his father’s killer. In true Shakespearean form, the murderer happens to be his uncle. This version, similar to the 2000 adaptation staring Ethan Hawke, will be set in present day America.

Catherine Hardwicke on her vision of Hamlet:

“I had a great time working with Emile on ‘Lords of Dogtown’, so when he suggested ‘Hamlet’, I was intrigued. We read the play aloud and when I heard Emile speaking Shakespeare’s amazing words, I was flooded with images. We edited the play tightly, making the words extremely accessible. In our version, we’re working hard to make ‘Hamlet’ a thrilling cinematic experience — the violent, intense, and romantic scenes that happen ‘off-stage’ in the play will be shown in vivid detail.”

Oscar winning producer’s Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (MILK) on their different take on Hamlet:

“This project was the brainchild of Emile Hirsch, who we had the pleasure of working with on ‘Milk’. Hamlet was in college when the story takes place, yet there hasn’t been a movie version with an appropriately-aged actor playing the role. Our goal is to present the story as a suspense thriller. We want to make it exciting and accessible for an audience today,” Jinks and Cohen said in a joint statement.

I do like Emile Hirsch as an actor. I thought he was stunning in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. How do you feel about another version of Hamlet?

Source: Gordon and the Whale

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Romeo & Juliet vs The Living Dead to premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival

Posted by LiveFor on May 7, 2009

My good friend Ryan Denmark, director of Romeo & Juliet vs the Living Dead has been in touch with some exciting news.

The film will have its world premiere at the 63rd International Edinburgh Film Festival

They join 22 other feature films making their world premiere. As Ryan says they “couldn’t be happier that such a storied and high profile festival has honored us with inclusion in their competitive international lineup.”

The film is booked for a Friday night time slot in Filmhouse 1 (their main venue) on 26th June. For more info check out their page at the festival site.

Tickets available 8 May £8.50/£7.50.

Let me know what you think of the film if you are heading up for the Film Festival.

I will be interviewing Ryan again after the Premiere to see how it all went. In the meantime you can check out my previous interview with him and watch the trailer below.

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Terrence Howard to star in a sunny version of the Scottish Play

Posted by LiveFor on April 6, 2009

Terrence Howard, who is producing an updated film version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, told a group of reporters that he takes on the title role in the classic play of ambition and treachery, the leading role he’s been waiting for. After the buzz from his Oscar nomination for Hustle & Flow, Howard has only played one lead, in the film Pride.

“I had to wait for a minute to trust where I was going,” Howard said in a group interview on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was promoting the action drama Fighting. “I’m about to do Macbeth, which we are producing. We’re going to do that this summer.”

After playing supporting roles in Iron Man, August Rush and The Brave One, Howard felt that the Shakespeare play fit his criteria for a leading vehicle. “I’m playing Hamlet,” he joked, confirming that he would play the title role of Macbeth.

Howard will also work behind the scenes on the film. “My production company is producing that,” he said. “We’ll shoot it in Puerto Rico starting in June.”

Macbeth tells the story of a Scottish warrior whose interpretation of three witches’ prophecies leads him to murder the king and usurp the throne. This Macbeth adaptation will be set in the modern day, with an exotic island setting.

“Yes, it’s updated present time, Caribbean,” Howard said. “It’ll be a nice thing to see Shakespeare under a Caribbean sun.”

What do you think about a Caribbean set Macbeth?

Source: Sci Fi Wire

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Al Pacino is King Lear

Posted by LiveFor on February 4, 2009

Michael Radford is writing and directing a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear and has set Al Pacino to play the lead role.

Radford and Pacino worked together on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in 2004, where Pacino played Shylock.
“Al has been offered this role many times over the years, but didn’t feel ready,” producer Barry Navidi told Variety. “He’s ready now. The film will be true to its period, very similar to the classical look of Merchant of Venice. Michael came up with the most brilliant adaptation and Al and I flipped for it.”

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