My Love of Shakespeare

Hello! I am happy to report that things are going well for the new project and I have even unexpectedly written new material for it! That kind of thing ALWAYS thrills me. I have often said that quite a few of my songs come in dreams and already I have dreamt TWO songs that I will include in the new EP "The Raven Trail". During my Creative Writing studies for my Master's, I discovered that Fiction writing and songwriting are not distant cousins at all; there are MANY similarities. I would highly recommends writers everywhere to read Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft". Not only does he give a brief account of how he came up with some of his most celebrated works ("Carrie", "Misery", "The Shining", etc.) but he gives an honest account of his feelings about the wonderful craft of reading. He even goes so far to say that he was not interested in writing another book about writing just to make money(Like he needs it! lol).

He is my kind of writer! Anyway, I found myself reading not one but TWO Shakespearan plays today which are among my favorites: Richard III and of course, Hamlet. My brother and I discussed Shakespeare today at length and among the topics we touched upon was how much for granted the Immortal Bard is in our native tongue.

Did you know that Shakespeare is credited for introducing 3,000 words into the English language? It's true. His quotes and phrases are literally a celebration of English itself. I know, I know: but what about all those archaic Elizabethan words and phrases? Well, we still use them today now more than ever. I'll give you a few examples: the most famous one from Hamlet is of course, the "To be or not to be" soliloquy but there are so many others.

From the same play, Polonius, the father of Laertes and Hamlet's girlfriend, Ophelia, tells his son: "This above all:to thine own self be true (Act I, Sc. III). Sounds familiar? How about this one? same play: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (Act I, Sc. IV). I love  that one! Or how about the variation of that quote? "O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven" (Act. III, Sc. III). Here, the murderer of Hamlet's father, Claudius, the new king, has a rare moment of regret for killing his brother, the king but it was too late by then; the seeds of revenge had already been planted and sprouted to dire consequences by the end of the play.

Shakespeare's influence upon English language idioms would be too great for me to express in this blog but I will certainly give you a few more examples:

"Now is the winter of our discontent" (Richard III, Act I, Sc. I)

"A horse! A horse! A kingdom for a horse!" (Richard III, Act V, Sc. IV)

"Off with his head!" (Richard III, Scene IV) Shakespeare said this before Lewis Carroll's Queeen of Heart's character in his immortal work "Alice in Wonderland"

"Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him" (Julius Caesar, Act III, Sc. II) Mark Antony's speech after Julius Caesar was murdered on the Senate floor.

"But for my own part, it was Greek to me" (Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II).

"The course of true love never did run smooth" (Midsummer Night's Dream" Act I, Scene I) Amen to that brother!:)

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child" (King Lear, Act I, Scene IV)

"T'is neither here nor there" (Othello, Act IV, Sc. III) How many times have you said that in your life without the "T'is" part?:)

"I will wear my heart on my sleeve for daws to peck at" (Othello, Act I, Scene I). Oh it gets even better!

"It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock" (Othello, Act III). And I could go on and on.

The point is that even if we don't quote from a Shakespearean play line for line, the idioms have transcended well beyond the Elizabethan period from where they came. It has always been my assertion that a lot of people don't approach the Bard's works because the speech is hard to understand and the plots seem complicated; as a Shakespearean admirer all of my life, my response is that one does not have to understand every word spoken right away because (a) there a quite a few lines in the plays that are quite simple and understandable, (b) they are not to be read just once, in my opinion, and (c) everything that one could find in a slew of today's movies (death, sex, revenge, violence, love, etc.) can be easily found in Shakespeare's plays.

Since we are on the subject of movies, here is a recommended list that I have compiled if you are interested (I don't claim to be an expert; I just like to share my ideas):

I-Hamlet (1948) Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons (when she was 18 years old and STILL a hottie!): One of the quintessential Shakespearan movies directed by the master himself,Mr. Olivier, considered to be possibly the greatest ever.( Remember the classic movie "Spartacus" with Kirk Douglas? Jean Simmons and Laurence Olivier acted together again in this epic!)

II- Richard III- Another Olivier gem with him starring, directing and producing. Check out this phenomenal cast: Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Gielgud, AND the legendary Claire Bloom. A must-see.

III- Henry V- Hey, I had to include Mr. Olivier again. It is another perfect production.

IV-Henry V- Kenneth Branagh's version which is pure magic! I am looking forward to his Shakespearan bent on the upcoming movie "Thor"  that comes out next year! (I was a fan of the comic book).And Emma Thompson! What a  terrific actress AND a hottie to boot!:)

V- Ran- Akira Kurasawa is one of my all-time favorite directors and this is his version of Shakespeare's "King Lear": a breathtaking panorama of dialogue, sound, and visuals. I saw his original paintings upon which the film's scenes are based and they are nothing but astounding. This is a prime example of how the Bard's works can be told in other forms.

VI- "Looking for Richard"- Al Pacino's personal views on the story of Richard III as well as a documentary that has him actually going out in the streets and asking evceryday people what they think of Shakespeare. An over-looked film in my view.

I could also mention Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" (MacBeth) as well. I will stop here because I do not want to belabor the point. Well, I hope you enjoyed this new blog of mine. Stick around for many more including those that will feature updates on my upcoming EP "The Raven Trail". Take care! BKT:) 






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