XAVIER DOLAN – IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD – JUSTE LA FIN
DU MONDE – 2016
That’s a film I would recommend
to neurotic people who are slightly paranoid and consider they are
misunderstood and unable to communicate with anyone. And when they try it’s the
end of the world because they can’t speak more than three words and because
they dare address people directly and personally. Add to this Asperger syndrome
the fact that we are in a family with a compulsive speaker, the mother who
tells always and over and over again the same stories that everyone knows but
that everyone is supposed to listen to and appreciate. Add to that we have an
elder brother, Antoine, and a younger brother, Louis. And one more re-visit to
Cain and Abel. The elder brother is the one who works in a factory, like Cain
after his crime. Louis is apparently writing plays in a big distant city and he
is successful, just like Abel was with God for his well grown vegetables, these
things that you have to sweat to grow, whereas Cain, before his crime was just
looking after herds of animals, no sweat or not too much anyway. Bad boy! And
the symbols are crossed, mixed and we have lost the light of the divine curse
in the meantime and replaced it with a simple human curse.
Add to those a sister, Suzanne,
who is apparently completely locked up in her room, doing nothing, living on
her mother and with her mother, sketching nice little drawings that she will
never bring out to any fame. She is a recluse of sorts. Antoine is married and
his wife, Catherine, is a mother of several children. If I have understood
properly there is a son who is called Louis, not like the younger brother but
like the father who is cruelly absent from the present situation, and one or
two girls. The relation between Antoine and Catherine is explosive all the time
because Antoine does not like to speak and he does not like to listen, so he
does not like people who speak, particularly about things that may concern him.
Louis has come to say something
but in the end he will say something that is not what has any importance, and
is probably not what he wanted to say and he will not say what is so important
for him at this moment and why he has come back “home.” In some short sentences
here and there and not more than here and there, we learn he was living in the
gay area of his city, but he has moved out though he has kept the address. He
gets a phone call some time in the afternoon but we cannot know who it is from.
He has a flashback about a love scene in the old place of his family, when he
was a teenager, and we assume that we are dealing with a man by the body
language more than anything else, and Antoine will tell him at the end of a car
ride that was difficult that Pierre Jolicoeur just died of cancer, “Your Pierre!”
That’s all we know.
Louis’ departure is very
difficult because Antoine wants to drive him to the airport but everyone finds
this departure slightly too fast and Antoine becomes violent with Louis, so the
mother takes Antoine out, the sister disappears and Catherine goes out to
rejoin Antoine and the mother on the back terrace.
Typical film by Xavier Nolan who
is just, with age, getting more discreet about gayness and gay life but it all
turns around the same thing: two brothers or two young men who are related in a
way or another and a third one that becomes the lover of one of the two,
causing the jealousy of the other and some kind of death falls onto the third
one, the lover who is here called with the nice name of Jolicoeur, or
Fair-heart. The style is very slow moments entirely centered on one or two
close-up shots of faces and their facial language that is telling more than the
words which are limited. With now and then one very short sequence of violence
in words or in body language or in physical gestures. And yes in such families
the end of the world could be happening outside they would not be able to see
it. And in this case we will never know what important thing Louis wanted to
tell, except that he had an episode of vomiting in the bathroom implying what
he wanted to tell was serious, had to do with his health, but we will be
frustrated for ever, and it can’t be morning sickness since we were told he
can’t have children.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
Ce film est tellement typique de Xavier Dolan que j’ai envie d’en finir
comme Louis en deux fois trois mots comme: “C’est plutôt moche ! » ou
« Pourrait faire mieux ! » Mais après tout je peux délayer ces
pépites tri-morphiques et vous en donner un peu plus.
Loin de la grande ville d’où Louis vient on découvre une famille Québécoise
plus que dérangeante. Une mère trône au centre et est une parlante compulsive
qui aime à raconter toujours les mêmes histoires que tout le monde connait mais
que tout le monde doit apprécier. Ce qui n’est pas le cas du fils aîné Antoine
qui travaille dans une petite usine locale à faire des outils. Le père est
absolument absent, probablement mort, mais qu’importe. La seule chose que l’on
apprend de lui est qu’il s’appelait Louis.
Le fils aîné Antoine est marié à Catherine et ils ont plusieurs enfants
dont un fils nommé Louis du prénom de son grand-père (tradition oblige) et pas
de son oncle. Il n’aime pas parler et il n’aime pas écouter si bien qu’il
devient vociférant et linguistiquement violent quand les autres parlent,
particulièrement son épouse. Ambiance de luxe. Le fils cadet a quitté la
famille il y a longtemps. Il a 34 ans et est revenu pour dire quelque chose
d’important. Il s’appelle Louis, montrant ainsi que le père était un personnage
secondaire puisque la tradition du nom du père au fils aîné n’a pas été
respectée. Ce fils Louis est allé à la grande ville et il écrit des pièces de
théâtre. Il vivait dans le quartier gay mais il dit qu’il l’a quitté tout en
gardant son adresse là. Il a un coup de téléphone dans la salle de bain dans
l’après-midi avec une personne qu’on ne peut pas identifier. Mais à la fin
d’une ballade en voiture Antoine dit à Louis que Pierre, Pierre Jolicoeur, est
mort. Cancer. « Ton Pierre ! » On avait déjà eu un flashback peu
avant d’une scène d’amour entre Louis jeune et un homme qu’l’on ne peut
identifier comme tel que par le langage corporel. Il venait dans la chambre de
Louis en passant par la fenêtre et en partant dès que c’était fini.
Ce flash back était venu après un épisode de vomissement de Louis dans la
salle de bain, ce qui laissait entendre qu’il avait à révéler un état de santé
délicat, et ce ne pouvait pas être une grossesse et sa maladie du matin. Quand
il finira par dire quelque chose cela tournera si mal qu’il ne dira que des
incongruités et n’aura pas le temps d’arriver aux choses sérieuses et comme il
doit partir rapidement Antoine le brusque un peu pour le voiturer jusqu’à
l’aéroport. La scène d’adieux devient violente car la sœur Suzanne, un être
renfermé sur elle-même ,et sur sa chambre, devient véhémente. La mère s’en
même, et même Catherine y va d’un mot ou deux. Antoine devient alors violent à
l’égard de Louis et c’est la mère qui calme le jeu et entraîne Antoine dans le
patio derrière la maison, suivie de Catherine, et Suzanne descend dans sa
chambre de recluse. Louis partira seul sans avoir dit ce qu’il avait à dire.
On a là comme une matrice féconde pour Xavier Dolan. Deux jeunes hommes et
un troisième qui se glisse entre eux, le troisième étant clairement gay. Le
frère aîné dans ce cas devient jaloux et cela explique le départ précipité du
cadet. Mais la mort punira Louis, Pierre Jolicoeur est mort. Autre matrice
féconde mais routinière : la mère seule avec le père absent et deux jeunes
hommes, frères ou pas, sur les bras et des frustrations hormonales multiples
qu’elle ne sait pas guérir. Le film est techniquement très beau du fait des
longues scènes lentes centrées sur un ou deux gros plans de visages avec des
expressions faciales riches, mais ces longs moments lents qui sanglotent comme
des violons dans un arrière plan invisible sont entrecoupés de moments brefs
mais rares de violence verbale ou corporelle et même physique qui hache
l’impossibilité de communiquer.
Dans une famille comme celle-là la fin du monde pourrait être en train
d’arriver dehors ils ne s’en apercevraient même pas. Et Louis repartira sans
avoir dit ce qu’il était venu dire. Merci maman, mais pas merci papa. Notons
bien la réincarnation et l’inversion de Cain (qui a été banni par Dieu) et Abel
(qui a été tué par Cain) avec Antoine qui reste dans son trou à rats, se marie
et a des enfants et Louis qui est exilé, revient mais repart encore plus vite
et il n’aura pas d’enfants, nous dit-on. Tiens donc et son vomissement alors … ?
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – HENRY VIII – BBC - 1979
This is certainly not a
great play by Shakespeare. The objective is to celebrate the birth and
christening of Elizabeth
and to position this birth in a context which is difficult. So it shows the
conflicts with the Catholic Church, in fact with some top people in the Catholic
Church, particularly Cardinal Wolsey who served, as the main minister of the
King, his own purposes as the cardinal of York in his position and even some rivalry
inherited from the past, for example in his plot to have Buckingham executed, the
son of the Buckingham who helped Richard III to ascend to the throne and then
got executed by decision of the same Richard III, of the House of York. At
least that’s how it appears in the play.
In fact there is a
second stake which is the divorce with Catherine of Aragon. The conflict is a
conflict with the Pope and it is evoked but not really explored and the main consequence
is not even mentioned, the fact that the Catholic Church is disbanded in
England and replaced by the Church of England governed by a special Council
appointed by the King but the logic in this Council is the same as in the Catholic
Church: the fight against the Reformation and Protestantism, in one word
heresies. The King supports the Archbishop of Canterbury who is leaning towards
some moderate reformation, though nothing is made that clear in the play, and
this Archbishop is going to be entrusted with the leading role in the Church of
England. But the play is totally silent on the main reform that is going to
disband the congregations and take over the churches.
So it is entertaining
but not really good. There is not even some kind of deeper political wisdom
with a King that is often angry and authoritarian, when he is not parading and showing
off. At the same time the final christening “sermon” is not exactly possible,
credible, believable and simply modest.
“CRANMER, Archbishop of Canterbury: Let me speak, sir,
For heaven now bids me; and the words I utter
Let none think flattery, for they'll find 'em truth.
This royal infant--heaven still move about her!--
Though in her cradle, yet now promises
Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings,
Which time shall bring to ripeness: she shall be--
But few now living can behold that goodness--
A pattern to all princes living with her,
And all that shall succeed: Saba was never
More covetous of wisdom and fair virtue
Than this pure soul shall be: all princely graces,
That mould up such a mighty piece as this is,
With all the virtues that attend the good,
Shall still be doubled on her: truth shall nurse her,
Holy and heavenly thoughts still counsel her:
She shall be loved and fear'd: her own shall bless her;
Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn,
And hang their heads with sorrow: good grows with her:
In her days every man shall eat in safety,
Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours:
God shall be truly known; and those about her
From her shall read the perfect ways of honour,
And by those claim their greatness, not by blood.
Nor shall this peace sleep with her: but as when
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phoenix,
Her ashes new create another heir,
As great in admiration as herself;
So shall she leave her blessedness to one,
When heaven shall call her from this cloud of darkness,
Who from the sacred ashes of her honour
Shall star-like rise, as great in fame as she was,
And so stand fix'd: peace, plenty, love, truth, terror,
That were the servants to this chosen infant,
Shall then be his, and like a vine grow to him:
Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine,
His honour and the greatness of his name
Shall be, and make new nations: he shall flourish,
And, like a mountain cedar, reach his branches
To all the plains about him: our children's children
Shall see this, and bless heaven. […]
She shall be, to the happiness of England,
An aged princess; many days shall see her,
And yet no day without a deed to crown it.
Would I had known no more! but she must die,
She must, the saints must have her; yet a virgin,
A most unspotted lily shall she pass
To the ground, and all the world shall mourn her.” (Act V Scene v)
And we have to keep in
mind the play was written in 1612-1613, that is to say ten years after
Elizabeth I’s death and under James I. Is it only to mark the anniversary of
this death, or is it because under James I some things started very fast to
turn sour? We cannot know.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – RICHARD III – BBC - 1983
It is one of the best
known and most produced play by Shakespeare and certainly the best known and
most produced history. What’s surprising about this play is that it can stand
all by itself though knowing the three Henry the Sixth plays help understand
the stake of this one. True enough it only helps because this history is very
self sufficient, in a way.
We have to clear the
plate of a question that is today no longer debated. Shakespeare proposes here
the vision of Richard III promoted by the Tudors, that is to say those who
vanquished and destroyed him, in order to stabilize and justify their taking
over te throne of England.
Richard III was not the physical monster they described.
Richard III was no 'bunch-backed
toad', research suggests
Paper published in Lancet says
king's scoliosis probably caused him to be shorter but did not cause major
Severe scoliosis in the skeleton
found under a Leicester car park less than two years ago – and
DNA matches with a distant relative of the Plantagenet king – helped to confirm
"beyond reasonable doubt" the identity of the remains.
... Research funded by Leicester University and published in the Lancet medical journal on Friday suggests the king's
disfigurement was probably slight because a "well-balanced" sideways
curvature in the spine would have meant his head and neck were straight, not
tilted to one side.
Although the king's torso would have
been short relative to the length of his arms and legs, and his right shoulder
a little higher than his left, a good tailor and custom-made armour could have
minimised the "visual impact" of his condition, according to the
There was no evidence that Richard
would have walked with an obvious limp; his leg bones were symmetric and
well-formed. Neither would the disease, which probably developed when Richard
was an adolescent, have reduced his ability to exercise.
The researchers have already
established that Richard would have been about 5ft 8in (1.7m) tall without his
scoliosis, about average for a medieval man, although his condition meant he
would have appeared several inches shorter. Tudor propagandists, especially
Shakespeare, ensured Richard has been seen as hunchbacked for centuries...
This being said this
play is a real thriller. Richard has to eliminate everyone on his path to climb
(really climb) to the throne. I would say that sounds plain normal but he
declares himself to be evil and to enjoy killing, particularly innocent people.
And when he has finally finished the elimination of those who have a blood
claim to the throne, except Richmond who has
fled to Brittany,
he starts killing those who have helped him in his ascent, which is politically
absurd and plain suicidal. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, comes back with an
army and defeats Richard III at Bosworth in 1485 and thus becomes Henry VII
known as the first Tudor king, though he is a Lancaster, which means the House
of Lancaster in the end wins but they change the dynastic reference, probably
to ensure the past be the past, which might explain why Richard III after
proper examination was buried in a small church with no indication on his grave,
which explains why in modern times when the church was pull down to open some
space for a parking lot no archaeological search was started and Richard III
remained under the parking lot for a long time before new excavations to build
some new structure finally discovered him, or at least his remains.
The victor is always
right and history hates the past and disguises it to the colors of the present,
which means the color of the past changes from one present to the next. In this
case Shakespeare took part in the disguising campaign some 110 years after the
events. Richard III only lived 33 years and reigned two. He had no descent but
the House of York had of course and represented the Plantagenet line, though
the Lancaster are also connected to the Plantagenet since Henry the Seventh’s
great-great-great-grandfather was the Plantagenet king Edward III (1307-1327).
Once again we have to keep in mind that the British kings, and it is probably
true of many other noble families in the Middle Ages, were severely inbreeding
in medieval times. And when they were not inbreeding in England they
went on inbreeding with the French side of the family. They were all cousins
and at times not that far removed.
That means the claim
that could arise from the York
branch of the Plantagenet blood line could have been strong enough to be
considered as a real threat. When you want to kill your dog you just pretend he
is rabid. And that’s what they did with Richard III.
This production is
superb in many ways, once again by the physical acting of pain, sorrow and
death, particularly with body language, facial language and tonal language. A
triplet of queens is essential: Margaret the old widow of Henry the Sixth; Lady
Anne, widow to Edward Prince of Wales, son of Henry the Sixth, later married to
the Duke of Gloster who later became Richard the Third; and Elizabeth, queen to
Edward the Fourth and then his widow. Of these three queens Lady Anne is the
most discreet though fundamental because of her marrying Gloster, the future
Richard the Third and the killer of both her husband and her father in law, but
another triplet is composed with the Duchess of York, mother to King Edward the
Fourth, Clarence and Gloster, the latter to become Richard the Third. The
oldest of them, Margaret is a real warmonger against Richard the Third and this
production makes her triumphant at the very end, after the concluding words
from Henry the Seventh, sitting, laughing hysterically, at the top of a pile of
half denuded dead bodies, and holding the corpse of Richard the Third. The full
and final step of this purification cycle typical of Shakespeare: she takes, or
rather is granted, the victory she is provided with by history or fate.
There is at least one
happy person in that play, and it is Margaret, though true enough it is added
to Shakespeare’s play that ends with a full pardon
Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again:
she may long live here, God say Amen!” (Act V, Scene v)
But to show how strong
Shakespeare’s music can be, I will make a final remark on the famous ghost
scene. In his last night living on earth before the battle of Bosworth he has a
dream that brings up EIGHT apparitions of ghosts, eleven ghosts all together:
1- Prince Edward, son to
Henry the Sixth;
2- King Henry the Sixth;
4- Rivers, Grey and
6- the two young
princes, sons of Edward the Fourth;
7- Queen Anne (Princess
of Wales, then Duchess of Gloster, then Queen to Richard the Third. DShe dies
mysteriously before Bosworth, hence her apparition as a ghost);
EIGHT is the symbol of
the Second Coming, and here we have eleven second comings. The Second Coming is
the triggering event of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation.
ELEVEN is the number of
apostles after the elimination of Judas, the eleven apostles who retire away
from the Crucifixion (except John) and who deny Jesus, like Peter, and who hide
away from the crucifixion and post crucifixion scene out of fear. These eleven
apostles announce the resurrection too, even if in a negative way, the way they
announce the end of Richard III but they also appear to Richmond and they
announce the resurrection of the English monarchy with Henry the Seventh, known
as Richmond in this play.
Finally NINE is
necessary to complete the prophecy, the prediction, by identifying the beast,
in this case Richard the Third. And sure enough the ghosts are going to curse
Richard III with a simple formula: “despair and die.” And in that ghost scene
this mantra is repeated NINE times.
1- Prince Edward, son to
Henry the Sixth: “despair, therefore,
2 & 3- King Henry
the Sixth: “despair and die” “despair and die”;
4- Clarence: “despair and die”;
5 & 6- Rivers, Grey
and Vaughan: “despair and die”
“despair and die”;
7- Hastings: “despair and die”;
8- the two young
princes, sons of Edward IV: “despair
9- Queen Anne: “despair and die”;
Ø- Buckingham: Ø.
We must understand that
in Elizabethan times, after the Reformation and in the ascending phase of
chapels and Puritanism, such biblical references (in this case the Passion of
Jesus and the Book of Revelation) were
unavoidable elements that everyone understood and appreciated. What’s more it
is very effective in the “propaganda” (rather self-justification) of the Tudors:
the killing of the crucifixion is prophesied, the Second Coming is announced
and the Beast is identified. We are in the midst of medieval numerical
symbolism. This makes me say NINE is the numerical symbol of this king, and as
I have already said in my review of Henry the Sixth, Part Three: 1 + 8 = 9; 4 +
5 = 9; 1 + 4 + 8 + 5 = 18 = 9 x 2. The beast is killed on the diabolical date
that is also the resurrection date of Bosworth, the final battle. After this
last battle the prophecy of the New Messianic Jerusalem becomes possible.
That powerful symbolism
runs through the whole play and had been announced at the end of the previous
history. Going to the Globe Theater was a treat for the people of London and they went
there regularly to enjoy the theater and to learn about their past history.
Here the grossest goriest taste of the audience is satisfied along with the numerical
symbolism that cannot be “cabalistic” since it is not Jewish, but is in a way
metaphysical and even alchemical, though definitely Biblical, in this medieval
and post medieval time, and the extra “knowledge” it provides on English
history. Shakespeare’s theater was pedagogical, entertaining and slightly though
at times enormously mysterious or poetic.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – hENRY VI PART THREE – BBC – 1983
This is the third part,
hence the end; of this Henry VI, a weak king that lasted longer than any other
on the stage. The last events of his reign are not that important. The fight is
to the finish, to the death between the two houses of Lancaster, the King, and
York, the contender. The Duke of York is eliminated rather fast and his four
sons are the heirs of his vain claim.
First Edward, Earl of
March and later King Edward IV, who becomes an in and out and back in king in
this play: he is the flip flop king and as such uninteresting, whimsical,
self-centered, and I mean here centered on his belly-button, and when I say
belly-button you can figure out what explicit word I should use: to take
advantage of a widow on the whim of the moment, he marries her while an
ambassador is negotiating his marriage with the sister of the King of France. More
flip flop than that you die. He will eventually after having spoiled everything
and caused the worst possible explosions of rivalry and struggle.
Second Edmund, Earl of
Rutland, is in many ways unimportant. He is the follower of his elder brother
but he is murdered by Clifford at the Battle of Wakefield at the age of 12, supposedly
though he does not seem to be that young in the play and on the stage. Third George,
Duke of Clarence, who is an opportunistic change-coat who deserts his brother
Edward when he marries his widowed paramour, and thus becomes co-protector of
the Realm under Henry VI reestablished on the throne, but not for long, since this
Clarence betrays again and brings his brother back on the throne.
Fourth and not least Richard,
Duke of Gloster, who is the only one who has some real will, desire, want and
urge to become king by all means. He will with his two brothers stab to death
Henry’s son, Edward to close up the descent of Henry VI, and at the same time
shut him up. He will alone stab to death Henry VI in the Tower where the King
is held prisoner. Shakespeare from the very start shows him as a killing machine
only bent on conquering the throne.
thy turn is next, and then the rest,
myself but bad till I be best.” (Act V, Scene vi)
And Shakespeare makes
Richard speak of himself in the basest words and feelings possible:
other pleasure can the world afford?
make my heaven in a lady's lap,
deck my body in gay ornaments,
witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.
miserable thought! and more unlikely
to accomplish twenty golden crowns!
love forswore me in my mother's womb:
for I should not deal in her soft laws,
did corrupt frail nature with some bribe,
shrink mine arm up like a wither'd shrub;
make an envious mountain on my back,
sits deformity to mock my body;
shape my legs of an unequal size;
disproportion me in every part,
to a chaos, or an unlick'd bear-whelp
carries no impression like the dam.
am I then a man to be beloved?
monstrous fault, to harbour such a thought!
since this earth affords no joy to me,
to command, to cheque, to o'erbear such
are of better person than myself,
make my heaven to dream upon the crown,
whiles I live, to account this world but hell,
my misshaped trunk that bears this head
round impaled with a glorious crown.” (Act III, Scene ii)
It is important though to clearly say that these deformities are
pure invention probably spread after his death in Bosworth in 1485 when he was
denuded to be prepared for burial; and then his real physical state was
discovered. Shakespeare was one of those who produced for posterity that image
of a twisted and distorted hunchback with a warped backside, a shorter
atrophied arm and a shorter or out of shape leg that made him limp. All that
was absolutely false: here are the results of the medical examination of his
skeleton after discovery and before reburying.
“The type of scoliosis seen here is known as idiopathic adolescent onset scoliosis.
The word idiopathic means that the reason for its development is not entirely
clear, although there is probably a genetic component. The term adolescent onset
indicates that the deformity wasn’t present at birth, but developed after the
age of ten.
It is quite possible that the scoliosis would have been
progressive, continuing to get worse as Richard got older. It would have put
pressure on his lungs and may have caused shortness of breath, but clearly did
not stop him from leading an active lifestyle” (http://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii/science/spine.html)
And common modern approaches of this king is as below,
pushing aside all the physical handicaps, except his scoliosis, probably well
hidden during his life as a king and discovered after his death by the victorious
Henry VII, first Tudor king and that’s when the “legend” or the “myth” started.
Shakespeare goes very far in that mythical direction in the mouth of Gloucester himself:
'O, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth!'
And so I was; which plainly signified
That I should snarl and bite and play the dog.
Then, since the heavens have shaped my body so,
Let hell make crook'd my mind to answer it.” (Act
V, Scene vi)
But here is a modern opinion on this problem:
The body of a mediaeval monarch was always under scrutiny,
and Richard III's was no exception. In death, however, his body became subject
to new forms of examination and interpretation: stripped naked after the Battle
of Bosworth, his corpse was carried to Leicester
and exhibited before being buried. . .
No mention of Richard's distinctive physique survives from
during his lifetime, perhaps out of respect to a reigning monarch, or perhaps
because he hid it so well. . .
The stripping of Richard's corpse at Bosworth in 1485 made
his physical shape noticeable to many hundreds of witnesses, perhaps for the
first time. . .
Richard's body came to be notorious for its misshapen
appearance during the Tudor period, although until the discovery of his body it
was never clear whether this was pure fabrication to render accounts of his
character and actions all the more extreme.
In Richard's case, this purported link between physique and
character was frequently underlined, and as the Tudor regime became
established, his image became more distorted -he gained a withered arm and
unequal limbs, none of which were evident on the skeleton- to fit his blackened
To go back to the play, we must say the picture of this
future king here is more than bleak. It is monstrous according to the word he
Strangely enough the action
is tense and dense but it is only action with blood and battles on both sides
and the producer enjoys giving some pictures of killed, bloodied half nude
corpses after the battles. That’s visual gore and Shakespeare could not afford
that just as he could not afford the numerous battles with twenty to forty extras.
The BBC could of course invest on extras since the setting itself was made of
flotsam recuperated bits and pieces of shredded wood, doors, windows picked from
some demolition site.
Some characters stand
out and first of all Queen Margaret as a soldier, a captain, a woman leading troops
and infantry. I must also say that most of the leading actors are great in
their dying scenes. Warwick and the
various Yorks seem to be great dying personae. Richard himself does not die,
but he kills very well though his main quality is in his long speeches about
his fate of a mongrel in his family, in his house, in his country. And mongrel
and monster seem to start with the same letters for him. He is developing a
discourse that could freeze your blood and curdle it if it were not on a stage.
And there is no black humor in him. He appears as the great central maximum
actor in this play, the one who is pulling the strings and soon these strings
will become cables. I just wonder if he is not still in the making because he
could have been a lot worse in his tone and maybe his body language. But I
guess he kept some of his resources in store for the next play.
So this third part of
this Henry VI is probably the densest and hence most interesting. Yet Henry VI himself
is still smothered in an impersonation that makes him seem a lot more secondary
than he should be. The choice is to make him kind of inconsistent. I am not
sure Shakespeare’s text could not give him more muscle at least in appearance
and tone. Instead of looking pitiful as he does here he might have been able to
look impotent in front of people negating his existence and then, he would have
been poignant in his powerlessness instead of pathetic in his spinelessness. This
is only a question of tone, hence a choice of the director and producer.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU