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Title: Witchcraft by a picture, areas of resistance in Shakespearean film.
Author: Collick, J.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1988
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Traditionally a Shakespeare film is seen as an act of translation from one idealised source of meaning (the text) to another (the language of cinema). This approach dismisses or misinterprets the majority of films made because they are either silent or foreign. Silent films, it is claimed cannot recreate the text. Many foreign films distort the plays' 'meaning' to cater for their audiences. This thesis challenges these assumptions by analysing two representative examples from these 'areas of resistance', Rather than compare these to an ideal concept of the plays it seeks to contextualise the films in their social and historical positions. The subjects chosen are the silent films made prior to 1912, and Kurosawa's Kumonosu jo (Macbeth. 1957). By studying the history of nineteenth Shakespeare presentation in art, literature and the theatre this thesis demonstrates that the pre-1912 films were part of a long-established tradition of silent and spectacular performances. Between 1907 and 1912 British companies used this tradition to try and create a high-class style of film to challenge the influx of mass-produced narrative-base melodramas from North America. The second section describes how Shakespeare was used by a nascent class of urban intellectuals in 19th and 20th century Japan to define the problems of the individual's relationship to the state. Kumonosu jo , a film by a self-confessed liberal humanist, perpetuates this tradition by formulating a nihilist study of militarism using the structures of the Noh theatre. Finally the thesis points out that each of these areas of film is emblematic of the position of Shakespeare in a specific culture at a specific time. Only an analysis which seeks to understand a film as a historically conditioned act of meaning can avoid the mis-readings and sweeping appropriations that non-orthodox Shakespeare films have been subject to in the past.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Silent films][Kurosawa's Macbeth Literature Mass media Performing arts