I did something the other night that I generally avoid like the plague: program-surf on TV. Now, I gave up cable/satellite years ago because I used to succumb all too easily to the urge to channel-surf for hours on end. There is in fact no activity more pointless, nor pathetic, than channel surfing…
Nowadays, I generally go into Amazon Prime or NetFlix or whatever with at least some idea as to what I want to watch. Whether it be some form of obscure movie, or binge-watching TV series, or getting into a documentary, I pretty much only turn the TV on when I have something resembling a purpose.
Usually…but not always.
So, there I was, blankly surfing the Amazon interface, looking for something — anything — to watch. I tried a few shows, but nothing really worked for me. Then…well…
A new production of King Lear with Anthony Hopkins? Oh, hell, why not?
Now, I’m not the biggest Shakespeare fan in the world — I was forced to read too much of his stuff in high school and college to not harbor some (petty) resentment — but some of his works just have too meaning and import to ignore. King Lear is one of “those” works with something to say…it has a very great deal to say, in fact.
I’m partial to good visuals and interesting retellings in my Shakespeare, rather than reproductions that are 100% true to what would’ve happened back in The Globe. The best of Shakespeare’s works address modern, current issues just as much as they addressed the issues of his day. Okay, so that was enough to hook me at the time. Of course, as much as I love Anthony Hopkins, he was going to have some real work to do to keep up with my favorite versions/derivations of King Lear (King of Texas and Ran)…
Oh shit, did he keep up.
Actually, Hopkins did more than keep up, he freaking nailed it.
I love the juxtaposition of modern imagery and settings with the formal, rhythmic language of a Shakespeare play. It worked with Romeo & Juliet a couple of decades ago (set in New York), and it worked even better with King Lear last night. Oh, it ain’t always to watch — or understand — but it is powerful…
I could get into all the meaning and weight we attach to a play like Lear, into the arguments about rationalism versus emotion, or the needs of the individual versus the good of society, or the ravages of time and the limitations of love and family… Crap, I could get into all of that, and more, and barely scratch the surface. So I won’t…get into all that, I mean.
Also, I honestly do think that every work of true significance and power should be able to stand and communicate on its own.
We all take different things from works like Lear, depending on our situations and experiences in life, and that’s the attraction of a good story/play/poem. All I can really do is internalize my own personal reactions and interpretations, and encourage other folks to do the same.
So, if you’re bored and looking for one hell of a production of a weighty topic, dive in!