Tech Friday: An All Green Screen Macbeth

Greenscreen (or more formally compositing) is way of combing video images to create a scene that combines a background and live action.  Wikipedia has a good explanation, and the video production company I work for has done some work in this way.

But I learned this week there is a new film of Macbeth that was done in green screen, meaning that the actors worked in a studio room, and the entire physical environment was created after the fact in post-production.

The trailer is here:

And I will admit that this offers some support the view that Shakespeare remains resistant film. (Works for opera for some reason.)

Yet, looking at the fascinating “making of” videos, I do wonder whether this one could get to the heightened reality of Shakespeare more than a traditional filmmaking technique (there is an artificiality to this world, perhaps with something akin to video games, which embody a digital aesthetic).

It is a work of heightened language and intense dramatic impulse, and there is something so bracing about using technology to match that. Whether it ultimately works or not is an open question, hope to see it later this spring, but perhaps they are on to something.

Shakespeare Everyday

Nosing around the web for online Shakespeare resources (full report later), found this nice list of everyday terms that are “quoting Shakespeare.”

“All our yesterdays”— (Macbeth)

“As good luck would have it” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“As merry as the day is long” — (Much Ado About Nothing / King John)

“Bated breath” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Be-all and the end-all” — (Macbeth)

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” — (Hamlet)

“Brave new world” — (The Tempest)

“Break the ice” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Brevity is the soul of wit” — (Hamlet)

“Refuse to budge an inch” — (Measure for Measure / The Taming of the Shrew)

“Cold comfort” — (The Taming of the Shrew / King John)

633px-First-page-first-folio-measure-for-measure“Conscience does make cowards of us all” — (Hamlet)

“Crack of doom” — (Macbeth)

“Dead as a doornail” — (Henry VI Part II)

“A dish fit for the gods” — (Julius Caesar)

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” — (Julius Caesar)

“Devil incarnate” — (Titus Andronicus / Henry V)

“Eaten me out of house and home” — (Henry IV Part II)

“Faint hearted” — (Henry VI Part I)

“Fancy-free” — (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

“Forever and a day” — (As You Like It)

“For goodness’ sake” — (Henry VIII)

“Foregone conclusion” — (Othello)

“Full circle” — (King Lear)

“The game is afoot” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Give the devil his due” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Good riddance” — (Troilus and Cressida)

“Jealousy is the green-eyed monster” — (Othello)

“Heart of gold” — (Henry V)

“Hoist with his own petard” — (Hamlet)

“Ill wind which blows no man to good” — (Henry IV Part II)

“In my heart of hearts” — (Hamlet)

“In my mind’s eye” — (Hamlet)

“Kill with kindness” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Knock knock! Who’s there?” — (Macbeth)

“Laughing stock” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“Live long day” — (Julius Caesar)

“Love is blind” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Milk of human kindness” — (Macbeth)

“More sinned against than sinning” — (King Lear)

“One fell swoop” — (Macbeth)

“Play fast and loose” — (King John)

“Set my teeth on edge” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Wear my heart upon my sleeve” — (Othello)

“Wild-goose chase” — (Romeo and Juliet)


And some nice bits on Shakespeare’s Sonnets–ever surprising works–from a recent TLS.

Writers as well as readers have found the sonnets irresistible – not only because of their quasi-autobiographical subject material, but also because of their raw exploration of why anyone would bother to write at all. These poems have indeed enjoyed extraordinarily complex and rich afterlives. Jonathan Post’s chapter on “regifting” the sonnets attends to new work by British and American poets including Jen Bervin, Carol Ann Duffy, Don Paterson, Elizabeth Bishop and Allen Ginsberg. The boorish speaker of Wendy Cope’s “Strugnell’s Sonnets”, in Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, keeps twisting Shakespeare’s opening lines: “The expense of spirits is a crying shame”. In an altogether different register, the American poet Alice Fulton’s collection Barely Composed contains a poem which scrambles a series of prefixes, suffixes and homonyms from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 87. As Post puts it, “how strange and barely recognisable, yet so it is”. The title of Fulton’s poem, “Peroral”, refers to the practice of taking a dose of medicine by the mouth – and this suggests, to Fulton and perhaps to Post, a new way of doing creative justice to poetry from the distant past. Reading the sonnets is no longer simply therapeutic, as if influence were a form of influenza. It seems more purposeful to work collaboratively (instead of competitively) with these poems in order to create bright new redactions


Lots of observances of the 400th anniversary of WS’s death (so long ago, so recent!)

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 3.03.57 PMTwo web destinations I particularly liked: Neil MacGregor “Shakespeare’s Restless World,” a BBC Radio and podcast series akin to his “History of the World in 100 Objects.” In 20 short episodes, he takes an object as a means to glimpse what the experience of playwright, players, and audiences might have been like. (For instance, the simple Protestant chalice in the church where Shakespeare was baptized provides a lens into the roiling drama of Catholic v. Protestant politics and power and the fears relating to the successor to Elizabeth).

Wonderful scholarly Shakespeare websites abound, but some the main repositories of primary docs have come together to put up an exhibit that gives you a chance to see for yourself the printed legacy of Shakespeare’s age.

Shakespeare Documented is a quick trip to those rare Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 3.09.32 PMbook collections in these great libraries, and from your armchair, you can follow links for the full texts, and ‘page’ through the versions of the plays that were first published as well as many contextual docs.

Harsh Words: Nigel Andrews takes downs Julian Fellowes

The end of a review in yesterday’s Financial Times takes aims at the much celebrated bard of the BBC:

Romeo & Juliet is the second film this week (after The Fifth Estate) in which someone called Julian puts the world on nervous alert. The man formerly known as Downton Abbey ’s creator is now the founder of “WilliLeaks”.

Thrusting his sword in the Bard’s body, Julian Fellowes watches William Shakespeare bleed to death. The settings (real Verona churches, streets, painted palazzi) offer some visual compensation for a text dismally rewritten by Fellowes in clichés and crib-notes English and pedestrianly directed by Carlo Carlei. The older actors put on the best show they can, with Damian Lewis a rip-roaring Capulet. But the younger actors are dismal. They gabble, mumble, swallow their lines and are, in a few moments of mercy, inaudible altogether.

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 12.49.12 PM
Maybe he should have tried it as txt messages?

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