Quotations From Shakespeare: Hamlet

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On life and death:

“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now; yet it will come. The readiness is all.” (Act 5. Scene 2. Lines 217-220)

 

On Acting:

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep  not the modesty of nature. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold as’t were the mirror up to nature.” (Act 3. Scene 2. Lines 17-22)

 

On Fate:

“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will–” (Act 5. Scene 2. Lines 10-11)

 

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. The Collect Works of Shakespeare 4th Edition. David

Bevington, Ed. Longman. New York. 1997.

 

 

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Favorite Horror Films of the 1960s: Rosemary’s Baby

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Rosemary’s Baby is one of the most successful, influential, and important films in the history of American cinema, if not world cinema. In 1968, Roman Polanski directed this highly successful film, which was based on the novel by Ira Levin.  This book was also a bestseller, and the movie is a very close adaptation from the novel, often pulling its dialogue directly from the book. It is one of the rare cases when the film is almost as good as the book upon which it is based.

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https://en.wikipedia.org

In addition to being highly successful, this film used religious elements that arguably influenced other works such as The Exorcist.  It is clearly a Christian work and deals with the devil as the main antagonist, one that, in classic Gothic fashion, threatens an innocent.  This is a film that also speaks to the issue of fate vs free will and the choice of rejecting or embracing evil. The plot deals with a young woman whose husband might be part of a cult of the devil. She become impregnated, and the film features a disturbing sequence of a dream when a creature or demon or the devil rapes her. Her husband tells her he had sex with her while she slept; either way, both versions are deeply disturbing. The film equates sexual and spiritual victimization.  Rosemary gives birth, and nearly the entire population of the building in which she lives are shown as part of the cult.  In a chilling moment, she is told that her baby has “its father’s eyes,” and the child has glowing eyes.  At this point, Rosemary cradles the infant.

Is the film attacking the victimization of this young woman? Is she implicated at the end as part of accepting her place in the cult and the delivering of the devil’s child? That is ambiguous, but the film demands we examine the question and arrive at our own answer.

Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes star in the movie, and it would launch Mia Farrow into stardom.

If you are interested in horror cinema, this is a very important film, but it comes with the trigger warning, that many aspects of it are potentially deeply disturbing.

Favorite Horror Films of the 1940s: The Wolfman

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The-wolfman

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“Even a man who is pure at heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.” (The Wolfman)

This is the well-known saying that is at the heart of the 1941 Universal Studios film The Wolfman. This film completes the quartet of monsters that are at the heart of the Universal horror franchise: the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, The Mummy, and the Wolfman. While there were certainly other creatures and monsters in the films in this time period, these are the four most prominent.

While we see science run out of control and ancient evils in the other films, in The Wolfman, we view a story of tragedy that is focused on an ordinary man, Larry Talbot, who is swept up in unfortunate events beyond his control. Because he is bitten by a werewolf while trying to save a girl and lives, Larry Talbot is fated to become such a beast himself.

The director and producer was George Waggner, and the writer was Kurt Siodmak. Most of our contemporary views about werewolf behavior do not come from ancient traditions or medieval European beliefs but from the mythology that Siodmak created for this movie. Siodmak created the idea that the time of the full moon is when a werewolf takes it form and that to become one, a person must be bitten by a werewolf and survive.

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More importantly, he included elements of tragedy, of a man fated to murder and to be destroyed, despite his desire to be a good person. The incantation the gypsy woman Maleva intones over Larry Talbot after his death illustrates this theme:

“The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.” (The Wolfman)

Siodmak also addressed contemporary issues, specifically the idea of a star marking the next victim of a werewolf, much like a star marking the Jewish people of Europe by the Nazis. Siodmak was a German Jew who had been successful as a writer but had to flee Germany with the take over by the Nazis. While the reference is not direct, it is still a clear metaphor for the horrors of the Nazis. The film demonstrates that evil is both natural and human created.

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In addition to excellent writing, the cast was also of the very best. Along side the star Lon Chaney Jr. were Clause Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, and Evelyn Ankers. Jack Pierce, as in the other main Universal horror films, created the unforgettable makeup that is the foundation for all other filmic and literary werewolves.

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

It was a film that was excellent in every level of production, and it maintains its excellence today.

 

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