Shakespeare Reloaded

Shakespeare Reloaded

This is just a bit of fun I had, so there’s no point in telling me how much I suck at American accents and impersonations: that wasn’t the point.

One of the things I’ve never really understood is why our English teachers ever thought it was cool to teach us Shakespeare by forcing us to analyse every stanza and every line, managing to make something which had been written for entertainment and making it boring. Mark Antony’s speech in Julius Caesar could thus be reduced to so many rhetorical devices which the original audiences, of course, probably didn’t even consciously notice.

As a matter of fact, of course, it’s a point of high drama. Antony has been put in a difficult spot: He has to say something about his friend and ally Julius Caesar, but without getting it in the neck from Caesar’s assassins. There’s nothing pompous about it at all: it’s a speech which, by the end, fairly drips with viscious sarcasm, as he tells the crowd that if Brutus says Caesar was a megalomaniac, then obviously it must be true. imdjdan’s video “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” - Cowboy Style actually gets it right, and does so better than a lot of more professional renditions I’ve had the misfortune to see.

That’s the starting point: how easy it is to get this stuff wrong. Of course, the way the idea developed, I moved away from that, and it became a nice study in silliness, which I think is a legitimate thing in its own right. You might detect some thinly veiled comment on, for example, the way in which Hollywood’s depiction of violence has evolved from one extreme to the other, but don’t read too much into what is, really, just me messing around.

Before Doctor Who fans complain that the scene I am parodying is from an episode that was first screened in 2005, I should point out that the episode in question — The Christmas Invasion — was a one-off special that falls between the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Given that it stars David Tennant (and yes, it’s a terrible impersonation), it fits better with the 2006 season.