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Eric: Of course, now I have to watch the movie again. For... research purposes. Yeah.

Casey and Andy!

(From Casey and Andy! Click on the thumbnail for full sized recasting of classic themes into modern times!)

Look, you guys know I like Casey and Andy. I always have. I likely always will. Mad science puts a smile on my face. In fact, in my far flung future science fiction universe (the one where I named a lot of planets after Webcartoonists -- you remember. I talked about it in 2004. Man, I'm old) I actually named the energy weapons on my ships 'weirs' after Andy Weir. Because I thought it sounded cool, and because it's hard to go wrong with naming something you're handwaving in a moderately hard SF story after a person.

At the same time... Andy Weir is a scientist. His brain is science. Him with the lab coats and the chemicals and the chemicals are burning flavin.

I, on the other hand, am a pretentious, tweed swathed liberal arts major humanities english type. I practically have a pipe in my mouth, a cup of tea in my hand, and an unsupportable assertion that English majors could build suspension bridges if we wanted to.

And I'm also a monumental SCTV fan. I think it's the best sketch comedy show since Monty Python, and I think there are ways it beats Python out. Certainly, its bizarre melange of continuity hasn't been equalled since. (And it completely smokes all eras of Saturday Night Live. I don't care how much you liked [insert overplayed recurring bit here] -- SCTV outdid it. Twice.)

So. Here I am, reading morning webcomics. And I see a casual assertion that Strange Brew, the Bob and Doug McKenzie masterpiece, was based on Hamlet.

And I thought "that couldn't be. I'm a scholar. And I've seen that movie six or seven times--" hey, I had HBO for a while. There was an era when HBO was entirely First and 10, Strange Brew, The Demolitionist and Barbar. "--so there's no way it could have been based on Hamlet without my knowing it! No way! No way!"

And I thought back. I remember Max Von Freaking Sydow, playing a cute chick's uncle who... married... her... mother... after her father was killed....

Oh, holy crap.

Damn you, Andy Weir!!!!!!

Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 13, 2006 10:36 AM

Comments

Comment from: Brendan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:10 AM

They say that they're making an update of Twelfth Night now...set in a high school...starring Amanda Bynes.

Yeah, that's on my "skip list."

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:22 AM

Wait... does that mean that Bob and Doug were Rozencrantz and Guildenstern in an alternate timeline where R&G survived?

I make it a point to watch Shakespeare remakes, no matter how badly they're done... and I have to see the "update" of Twelfth night if only to see out how they translate the uncle and Sir Andrew into a High School setting...

The only adaptation I haven't seen, I think, is the Othello/basketball one.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:28 AM

(Babar has only one r.) Never having seen 10 Things or Strange Brew, I didn't get the joke until the last line. But then I laughed.

Speaking of Shakespeare, have you noticed what Pibgorn is doing?

Comment from: Dragonmuncher [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:28 AM

Yeah, but... The Lion King and Hamlet? I just don't see it.

The only semblance is the fact the king was murdered by the uncle. Lion King doesn't have any elaborate tricks to try and get the murderer to confess, and Hamlet didn't think that he had killed the king and went off into the wilds in self-exile.

Comment from: Tyck [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:30 AM

Huh. Cross-dressing and identity confusion central to the plot? I should have guessed that was Shakespeare. I'd just dismissed it as Probably Not Very Good.

(Not particularly good crossdressing, either; Amanda Bynes makes a very fey looking boy. With a stupid haircut.)

Comment from: Eytan Zweig [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:39 AM

Yeah, I agree with Dragonmuncher - I've heard the Lion King/Hamlet comparison before and I just don't see where it is except the "king killed by his brother", which is a trope that goes far earlier than Shakespeare (I can't think of any Greek tragedies offhand that use it, but I'm sure there must be one - and if not, there certainly are medieval plays that follow this plot).

Well, I guess the "ghost of the father tells the son the truth" part can also be (arguably) said to be shared by both Hamlet and Lion King, but it's done very differently.

I would agree that Hamlet and Lion King share similar roots, but claiming the Lion King is a reworking on Hamlet is like claiming that (classic) Star Wars is a reworking of Lord of The Rings because both are trilogies, the emperor is sort of like Sauron, Darth Vader is sort of like Saruman, the two death stars are sort of like the two towers, and Ewoks are sort of like furry hobbits.

Comment from: m'quirk [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:42 AM

Strange Brew not based on Hamlet? Was Elsinore Brewery not enough of a clue?

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:49 AM

And again, I'm reminded that I can't taste tea, and thus will be forever scorned by my fellow liberal arts majors. I shall yet have my vengeance!

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:00 PM

King is killed by brother, who becomes king in place of prince. Lead courtier is comedy relief. Prince has love interest but doubts himself and goes off with two clowns instead. King's ghost appears to prince. Prince returns and kills usurper.

I love Disney's The Jungle Book but I dare you to see more resemblance between its story and its sourcework's than there is between those of The Lion King and Hamlet.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:01 PM

Wait... does that mean that Bob and Doug were Rozencrantz and Guildenstern in an alternate timeline where R&G survived?

Apparently, yes. ;)

Comment from: Matt Blackwell [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:03 PM

Wait a sec, "She's the Man" is based on Twelfth Night? I thought they were just remaking "Just One of the Guys."

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:06 PM

As for SCTV... it was possibly the most consistent sketch comedy show outside of MPFC. But I was always more fond of Kids In The Hall, and not just because they used "Spiralling Shape" in their movie. I got more big laughs out of that show than any other sketch comedy show.

Though that might be only because The State didn't last too long. You might be amazed how much mileage you can get out of the phrase "Maybe you should try... pants!".

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:07 PM

I don't know if She's the Man is the remake, but I do know there *is* a remake of 12th Night coming out soon.

Comment from: Tyck [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:07 PM

mm..well. Hamlet/Lion King?

Hamlet: Usurping Murderer kills king, takes his throne.
Lion King: Check.

Hamlet: Usurping Murderer admits his own guilt.
Lion King: Check (These events happen in different circumstances than if Lion King used the Hamlet script directly, but they happen.)

Hamlet: Usurping Murderer attempts to have Rightful Prince killed (glossed over a little bit in Hamlet; Rozencrantz and Guildenstern died because of it.)
Lion King: Check.

Hamlet: Rightful Prince has a revelatory experience with Dead King's ghost.
Lion King: Check.

Hamlet: Rightful Prince waffles around for a while building the resolve to deal with Usurping Murderer.
Lion King: Ayup.

Hamlet: Rightful Prince faces off with Usurping Murderer, slays him (and mother, and friend, and self.)
Lion King: Well, sort of. This bit had to be changed in order to give the movie a happy ending.

Comment from: Tyck [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:12 PM

She's The Man, IMDB tagline:
Everybody has a secret... Duke wants Olivia who likes Sebastian who is really Viola whose brother is dating Monique so she hates Olivia who's with Duke to make Sebastian jealous who is really Viola who's crushing on Duke who thinks she's a guy...

If that ain't Shakespeare, I don't know what is.

Comment from: Archon Divinus [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 12:50 PM

I think that SCTV wins out as best sketch comedy since Monty Python, but then again Kids in the Hall made fun of my dad.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 1:38 PM

Wait Archon... is this something where they made fun of a general group, of which your dad was part? Or did they deliberately hone in on your father?

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 1:38 PM

Wait Archon... is this something where they made fun of a general group, of which your dad was part? Or did they deliberately hone in on your father?

Comment from: Eytan Zweig [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 1:46 PM

Sorry, still not seeing it.

Did Hamlet influence Lion King? Sure. But so did many other things. Do they both use related plots? Sure. I'm not saying that Hamlet and Lion King aren't related. But I think Lion King is sort of like Hamlet's second cousin, not a direct descendant. They share a lot, but I think that's because they both draw on the same sources, rather than Lion King directly being a version of Hamlet. Compare this to Strange Brew, which quite clearly is actually based on Hamlet, even if a lot changed in the reworking.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 1:49 PM

If the Kids in the Hall made fun of my father, I would force everyone I know to watch that sketch. When you came to this home page, it would virally infect your computer with a pirate video of that sketch. My telephone answering machine message would be a transcript of that sketch.

My father, I suspect, would feel the same way. Though he's more of a Faulty Towers fan.

Comment from: Sili [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 1:56 PM

I can't come up with a Greek tragedy the preemptively plagiarises Hamlet but doesn't Elektra comes close? Of course it isn't the brother, who kills the king, but the incestuously sired cousin cum second cousin.

Comment from: Tyck [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:12 PM

Pre-emptive plagiarization?

[blockquote]I am never forget the day I am given first original paper to write.
It was on analytic and algebraic topology of locally Euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable Riemannian manifold.
Bozhe moi!
This I know from nothing.
But I think of great Lobachevsky and get idea - ahah!

I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk,
Has friend in Tomsk,
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk,
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow,
Is solving now,
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

And when his work is done -
Ha ha! - begins the fun.
From Dnepropetrovsk,
To Petropavlovsk,
By way of Iliysk,
And Novorossiysk,
To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk,
To Tomsk, to Omsk,
To Pinsk, to Minsk,
To me the news will run,
Yes, to me the news will run!

And then I write,
By morning, night,
And afternoon,
And pretty soon,
My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
When he finds out I published first![/blockquote]

Free association is such a wonderful thing.

Comment from: Tyck [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:13 PM

...bugger. I've gotta go look up the tags again.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:15 PM

Lion King was intended by Disney to be a kind of remake of Hamlet.

In production it was referred to as "Bamblet" because its plot is like a combination of Bambi and Hamlet.

So, um, so there?

Comment from: Eytan Zweig [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:25 PM

Well, can't argue with that, but I guess that the point is that Lion King ended up borrowing only a single plot thread out of Hamlet, which happens to be the most generic part of Hamlet's plot. But I guess that Paul Gadzikwosi's point about Jungle Book holds - after all, there's little in the movie from the book other than "boy raised by animals", and the basic names and species of the characters.

But still, it never would have occured to me that there's any direct connection between Lion King and Hamlet, as opposed to Strange Brew which makes explicit references.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:26 PM

In production it was referred to as "Bamblet" because its plot is like a combination of Bambi and Hamlet.

If we weren't all New Critics here I would feel so vindicated.

Comment from: Steve Troop [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:37 PM

In Strange Brew Paul Dooley (the main girl's uncle) married the Elsinore Brewery heiress's mother. He was sort of the patsy for Max Von Sydow.

Comment from: Zeekar [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:48 PM

And I thought "that couldn't be. I'm a scholar. And I've seen that movie six or seven times--"

What, the name Elsinore Brewery didn't clue you in? :)

Comment from: Sili [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 2:57 PM

Sorry, Tyck. I meant "anticipatory plagiarism". I really shouldn't try to quote from memory.

Comment from: chalcara [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:01 PM

Disney should NEVER touch a classic theme again. They screw it up beyound recognition.

*still searches someone to murder for what they made out of Herakles/Hercules*

Comment from: monkeyangst [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:07 PM

If we weren't all New Critics here I would feel so vindicated.
Did he just call us all critics?

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:13 PM

"If we weren't all New Critics here I would feel so vindicated."

Speak for yourself. I'm still a transcendental surrealist, and it's actively encouraged to cull from many different sources to reach your conclusion. After all, all sources are ultimately different reflections and distillations of the same true reality.

Comment from: Chris "EDG" Anthony [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:34 PM

Why is it that when Seneca rewrites Oedipus, it's great literature, but when Disney rewrites Hercules, it's a categorical travesty?

Comment from: Pseudowolf [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:48 PM

I'd be interested to know what the Chinese think of Mulan.

Comment from: Darth Paradox [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:54 PM

chalcara, I'm more annoyed about Hunchback of Notre Dame, myself. We probably could have hooked a generator up to Hugo's grave and powered a good portion of Paris with the spinning that must have ensued upon the movie's release.

Comment from: Kris@WLP [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:55 PM

Apropos of nothing, it's just occurred to me that Hamlet would fit right in with traditional German opera... you know, in an "everybody dies" sort of way.

("We're performing the German version of 'Taming of the Shrew.' It's the same as the English version up to the final monologue... and then rocks fall and everyone gets crushed to death.")

As for the Lion King, my thought is this: Disney stole the story lock, stock and barrel from Tezuka, and Shakespeare is reputed to have stolen all his work from other people, too. Perfect parallel. }:-{D

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 3:57 PM

Is it common and low-brow of me to admit that 10 things is pretty darn high on my list of movies, particularly Shakespearean ones?

It is? It makes me a philistine? ah, well.

I fear I would get run out of town on a rail if I admitted my loathing in this company for Strange Brew and SCTV...

Comment from: storiteller [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 4:27 PM

Kris, I've definitely heard the Tezuka thing before, from my more anime-lovin' friends. For those who don't know, many people claim Disney ripped off the characters and plot of a Japanese TV series "Kimba the White Lion" for the Lion King. http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a991224.html But the animators claim that if there was any influence, it was accidental. So it's more likely it was based on a whole mess of things, not just Hamlet, although influenced by it.

Personally, I have to go with West Side Story of my favorite of the Shakespearian adaptations. Yay musicals! Although Ten Things was surprisingly good, and one (if not the only) of my favorite "teen" movies.

Comment from: Shaenon [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 4:40 PM


Eric. Dude. "Strange Brew" even has a ghost.

Comment from: Brendan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 4:41 PM

Next up, Disney's Les Miserables. Enjorlas takes over France and gives Valjean a full pardon; close with him and Javert laughing over days gone by. Don't forget Fauchlevaunt's charming talking mule! Also, it's the one cartoon Disney adaptation that isn't a musical. G.

Comment from: Pseudowolf [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 5:12 PM

DUDE! Don't give them IDEAS, man!

Comment from: TasteMyHouse [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 5:39 PM

"If we weren't all New Critics here I would feel so vindicated."

are we assuming that we're all literary types here? i dont even know what a "new critic" is.

Also, its Fawlty Towers.

Comment from: Archon Divinus [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 7:19 PM

They specifically made fun of my dad (he knew a bunch of the kid in the hall guys growing up). I've never seen the sketch myself, but apparently it's about a teacher named Mr. Bellamy who couldn't keep a job.

Comment from: megs [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 7:26 PM

Strange Brew was my introduction to Canada and um, Beer Stores with conveyor belts. I can't see how you could miss the Hamlet, though!

About the Amanda Bynes Twelfth Night update - that makes me actually want to see it and I've seen enough tween movies by necessity (babysitting) that I'm pretty sure I'd loose my sense of sight. But I love that damn play that much.

And the Ben Kingsley/Imogen Stubbs version is the BEST movie version ever. It's not the play as Shakespeare intended, but it's the play as the best damn movie it can be.

Comment from: Frisco [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 7:28 PM

Of course Lion King was a riff on Hamlet ... and Hamlet was a riff on Oedipus ... which was a riff on some Babylonian story ... which was probably a straight rip off of the great cave writer Ungabableek the only original writer ever(Unless of course Harold Bloom is right and Ungabableek the proto-Sumerian was influenced by Shakespeare)
There are no original plots just new interpretations

besides Married to the Sea said it best:

http://www.marriedtothesea.com/021306/got-to-get-paid.jpg

Comment from: Minivet [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 8:05 PM

"If we weren't all New Critics here I would feel so vindicated."

are we assuming that we're all literary types here? i dont even know what a "new critic" is.

Also, its Fawlty Towers.

One of the key features of New Criticism is a disattention to anything outside the "text" of the work -- particularly the life of the author, but including earlier titles.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 8:29 PM

Why is it that when Seneca rewrites Oedipus, it's great literature, but when Disney rewrites Hercules, it's a categorical travesty?

Bobcat Golthwait.

Comment from: Mark Mekkes [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 9:26 PM

I have to confess that I even had the Strange Brew soundtrack (yes, on vinyl!). And they even did a bit about "Shakespeare horked our script".

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 9:27 PM

They specifically made fun of my dad (he knew a bunch of the kid in the hall guys growing up). I've never seen the sketch myself, but apparently it's about a teacher named Mr. Bellamy who couldn't keep a job.
Oh! The sketches where Bruce ("Chris Bellamy) gets fired! There are actually four of them (three in one episode in season two and one extra in season four where he gets fired by Tarzan for some reason). They're good.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 9:53 PM

"Disney's Les Miserables"

Hey, with Les Miserables the only way to go is up.

And THAT, ladies and gents, is called "throwing down the gauntlet".

Comment from: Kudilu [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 10:09 PM

on the Mulan comment -

I don't know what the actual chinese think of it, but i do know what my mom thinks -
she really gets upset at most disney movies (even though she enjoys them) because they totally screw up the story.
however, she was really impressed with Mulan - she studied the legend in college, and she says that it is as close to on the money as you are going to get with a disney movie. Mushu isn't specifically in the legend in the way he's in the movie (though the dragon Mushu is mentioned), and the commander of her section of the army didn't directly follow her home. Instead, she goes back to the matchmaker the next year, is matched with her future husband, and finds out that it's him at her wedding. basicly disney added the cricket, beefed up Mushu, and shortened up the ending.

Comment from: Steve Troop [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 10:37 PM

I know that my friend -- who was an American History major can drone on for a couple of hours about all of the inaccuracies in Pocahontas.

Comment from: Mali [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:16 PM

megs: Hell yes! That film version of Twelfth Night was the best treatment I've ever seen, ever. Ever. Because I hate that damn play - I find the 'comedy' cruel and depressing - but the film (and its flawless casting) made me love it again.

Comment from: Akilika [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:33 PM

Apropos of nothing, but I like the Disney Hercules series better than the movie. Yeah, it's stuck with all the same inaccuracies and more, but . . . you get hints, you know? You at least get a clue that the writers know the original myth, at least, and nod to it occasionally.

At least, IIRC.

Comment from: Doug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 13, 2006 11:37 PM

"If we weren't all New Critics here I would feel so vindicated."

Speak for yourself. I took one look at what goes on right after the introductory chapter on deconstructionism* and decided that modern criticism is way too close to the Dark Side for me. I'll stay on the sidelines with the audience at home and watch the pros at work.

I'll continute to pray and hope that people like Eric remain accessible and don't succumb to the temptation of deciding their goal is to be lauded by the only other two people on the face of the planet that almost understands them, from there eventually sinking into an endless round of mutual frontal lobe jerking with their new Special Friends.

At least quantum mechanics has colorful graphics and neat looking math to distract and reassure you when your sense of utter incomprehension gives you that funny feeling in your stomach.


*As I understood it, it started out as a critical method that takes into account the author's environment -- both their societal and historical milieu -- when dealing with nailing down their intent and understanding the underlying semantics of their work, to boil it down. A nice, useful sounding tool for historical scholarly pursuit, also being handy for contemporary analysis. Then it all went absolutely batshit crazy.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 12:07 AM

"Next up, Disney's Les Miserables. ... Also, it's the one cartoon Disney adaptation that isn't a musical."

Well, we all know how many rousing songs - in English, no less - that Hugo threw in the original.

Let's face it... when you're talking about taking one of the most important sociopolitical novels in the history of one language, and perverting it into a love story in another, you've already screwed it up far worse than anything Disney did with Herculesor The Little Mermaid.

Seriously, and this is the pretentious French major talking, MagnoliaPearl has the right idea, at least as far as the musical of The Miserables goes. There's alot of brilliant stuff in Les Misérables that nobody knows about because it's not on Broadway.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 12:11 AM

New Criticism isn't considered 'modern criticism.' Which is funny, because it is Modernist criticism. However, Post-modernism and post-post-modernism supplanted it.

Deconstructionism came well after New Criticism.

New Criticism's primary tenets are:

1. all criticism of a text must derive from that text. In a perfect world, it would all come from that text rather than from historical or cultural context.

2. texts have subtextual connections within them which can be revealed by analyzing the text carefully. (There is a process called Close Reading that goes line by line or even word by word in a text.)

Don't get me wrong. New Criticism can have its own batshit insanity. Derrida, before he went headfirst into deconstructionism, was a new critic. He was as insane there as anywhere else. In fact, he devoted eighty pages of a long essay interpreting and close reading Joyce's Ulysses to the interpretation of a single use of the word "Yes."

Eighty pages. On one word of Ulysses.

Still, he's the exception. And remember, he went on to be the prime force behind Deconstructionism. Don't decry the disciples of T.S. Eliot and Robert Penn Warren based on him. ;)

Comment from: Prodigal [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 12:53 AM

You didn't know? My brain, she just fall down, go boom.

Dude . . . Elsinore brewery!

Comment from: Prodigal [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 1:11 AM

Let's face it... when you're talking about taking one of the most important sociopolitical novels in the history of one language, and perverting it into a love story in another, you've already screwed it up far worse than anything Disney did with Herculesor The Little Mermaid.
What if that love story is in the original text, though, and is extremely close in its stage presentation to what's on the page?

Perhaps it's just that I read the expurgated edition of the story, but I found no reason to object to the way the producers of the musical handled the love story.

Comment from: Porkchop Bandito [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 1:17 AM

Strange Brew was a long family tradition going back to my childhood. When I told my father it was a remake of Hamlet, he looked like he had just spotted a boom mike bob into footage of the moon landing.

Comment from: e-monk [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 1:18 AM

Dude, were you on Jon Stewart today?

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 1:22 AM

No, that was the evil Anti Eric Burns. Of Fox News.

Comment from: Doug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 3:33 AM

I'm sorry, but I wasn't trying to impugn Modern Criticism. My use of "modern" was meant in the sense of "contemporary." My areas of experience are those where "critical" means something broke, burst into flames or blew up (or has gone horribly over budget), so I might get the terminology mixed up.

I can understand some portions of those schools of thought up until you hit that sign that reads, "No laymen past this point." Even the more outre' sounding ones can state their aims, methods and intent in comprehensible ways even as they travel further and further afield.

It was Deconstructionism that decided me on the much safer course of leaving the realm of criticism to those trained in it. After getting past the introduction, it left me travelling in a world where I could imagine Art Bell intoning, "In-credible! Absolutely in-credible!" after every paragraph as it was branded a tool for curing the ills of society, a basis for universal understanding that would bring about a utopian civilization and something that would enable you to raise Tinkerbell from the dead if you thought properly and clapped your hands.

I half expected the top of my skull to sink in due to the sudden intellectual implosion in my brain caused by reading the part that stated that it was, by definition, undefinable. I had always thought that sort of thing was more Theology's balliwick.

Comment from: Brendan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 7:27 AM

Trust me...they DEFINITELY screwed up Hercules worse. Little Mermaid is debateable, but they definitely screwed up Hercules worse. When I was reading the novel, I was actually surprised how faithful they were...I was half expecting Valjean to have a second daughter. Most of the things that were changed were things I'd already heard about...although the ending is very oversimplified.

Also, you know the stage show was originally in French, right? I'd have thought awkward lines like "I am reaching, but I fall" and "think I'll drop my anchor in that harbour over there" would be a dead giveaway.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 7:31 AM

Among other things, the Eric Burns we all deal with would not get flustered if Jon stewart decided to make a line of jokes about beer.

Yes, the love story in the musical version of The Miserables (yes, I'm so pretentious that I refuse to use the French name for the musical) is in the original script. However, there's two problems with this.

One, making a musical out of this is like making a musical out of the Tom Bombadil scene from "The Fellowship of the Ring", with the only important difference being that Tolkein actually put songs in the original.

Second, the musical abandons any pretense of putting the romance between Cosette and Marius (and the unrequited pining of Eponine) into the proper context.

Comment from: Darrin_Bright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 8:20 AM

The first 3 minutes of Disney's "Hunchback" impressed the heck out of me because it looked like the entire story was going to be told musically. Then everybody stopped singing and the Officially Licensed Overly Cute Happy Meal Toys started talking. It surprised me later when Frollo was being seduced by the nekkid flame chicks in the fireplace... my jaw dropped and I was thinking, "Holy crap, Disney put sex into a kid's movie". And one of the songs Esmerelda sings was just gorgeous (I forget which, the one in the cathedral?). Disney ruined the rest of it with it's usual tripe. (I did have a moment of personal amusement when Phoebus went underground to find the gypsies, "Step One: Collect underwear!" kept running through my head.")

Hercules I skipped because I was incensed over the changes they'd made to "Disney-fy" the story. Re: Seneca/Oedipus... there's a difference between reworking a classic story to explore different aspects of the original, and sodomizing the original so you can sell McDonalds Happy Meal toys.

Which was kind of sad, really, because the Hercules cartoon that Disney did after the movie was really pretty good. The bit where Hercules visits the "Fargo"-esque Vikings was absolutely brilliant.


Comment from: Brendan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 8:44 AM

Why is everyone saying "the miserables"? Wouldn't a translation of the title be closer to "the wretched"? Even if "misérable" did mean "miserable," it still wouldn't make sense since English doesn't pluralise adjectives.

Comment from: Grumblin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 8:59 AM

32_footsteps:

Speak for yourself. I'm still a transcendental surrealist, and it's actively encouraged to cull from many different sources to reach your conclusion. After all, all sources are ultimately different reflections and distillations of the same true reality.

That's just a nobby way of saying you simply quote wat you like, ignore the rest, and patch the holes by pure fancy :P

Comment from: Joshua Macy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 9:00 AM

Disney's Hercules didn't have much to do with the legend of Hercules (for which I am thankful, since I have no particular desire to see a Disney movie in which the protagonist murders his wife and children in a fit of rage), but it was a really good version of the legend of Superman.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 9:05 AM

It was a joke, gang. I'm not a New Critic. I don't think I'm any kind of critic. I'm a criticized.

Comment from: Bo Lindbergh [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 9:10 AM

Disney would totally steal this pun.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 9:16 AM

I think I'm the only one calling the Broadway play, "The Miserables". And given that I think it's a really bad translation of a really good book, I feel like the shoddy translation of the original name is perfect for it.

That, and it's a very subtle reference to a really great comic.

As for your point, Grumblin, a cynic would say that's all any critic does. But if you're deliberately taking shots at the school of thought to which I adhere, I'd say you really don't understand surrealism at all.

Comment from: Darrin_Bright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 9:33 AM

Everybody I know refers to it as just "Les Mis", i.e., /lay miz/. The drama students at my high school took a trip down to LA to see it there, and many of my friends have been obsessed with it since then. Me, I'm fond of the music (since we got to play a medley for it in concert band), but mostly I find it infinitely preferable to the execrable "Cats". Talk about ruining the source material...

Comment from: Sili [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 9:53 AM

I probably shouldn't mention that I rather enjoyed The Wretched - on tape at least. As for the process of Disneyfication I realised when I read White's Once and Future King, that I owed Disney an apology. Similarly, I've found that the rape of The Little Mermaid cannot be attributed solely to Disney. As it turns out the original 19th-century English translations are responsible for that, since Andersen's English editors didn't think the original stories suitable for children.

Comment from: John Fiala [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 10:08 AM

I'd have to say that Hercules and Pocohontas are the two Disney-fications that most bother me, in that I don't re-watch them... just about ever. Hunchback follows up on that pretty closely. A lot of Disney animated movies I'll watch again and again (Mulan and 'Lilo & Stitch' will cause me to damn near drop everything when they come on the tube), but those three really just don't work. I look forward to seeing what they put out now that Pixar is in charge.

Eric: Elsinore Brewery! What, do they need to put up a sign?

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 10:44 AM

It isn't like the original versions of the Disney remakes don't exist anymore. They aren't "ruined." But I do like the phrase "Disney screwed up [such and such]," because it sounds like they didn't change it on purpose.

Like the Disney guys are sitting there going, "Holy shit, guys! Someone told me that's not how the original Hercules story goes! No! NO! We messed up, guys! We messed it all up!"

Comment from: Pseudowolf [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 10:50 AM

Like the Disney guys are sitting there going, "Holy shit, guys! Someone told me that's not how the original Hercules story goes! No! NO! We messed up, guys! We messed it all up!"

And now I have a mental image of Mickey staggering through Main Street, U.S.A. falling to his knees and shouting "YOU SCREWED IT ALL UP! DAMN YOU!! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELLLLLLL!!!"

It's making me laugh far more than it should.

Comment from: Dan Vincent [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 11:17 AM

There was one good thing about Hercules - most of the characters and art was designed by Gerald Scarfe, otherwise known as the guy who did the general art for Pink Floyd's The Wall.

And it had James Woods. I mean, he rules. :| And Matt Frewer!

But yeah, other than that, Hercules was crap.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 11:29 AM

I think part of the complaints about Disney are that they're changing the stories in a blatant grab for more money. Which is a time-honored tradition for many writers through the ages.

Personally, I just don't like them because I always enjoy the original more.

And as for The Little Mermaid, if there were no proper translations of the story, then maybe I'd give Disney a pass on screwing it up. But there are, so no pass.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 12:00 PM

hmm. Disney movies. NOW we're onto something.

Hunchback had one redeeming feature: (some of) the music. Even though it's not really "for kids," the Hellfire/Heaven's Light scenes are pretty darn cool, and Tony Jay has one heck of an amazing voice. Of course, "God Help The Outcasts" or whatever its name is is quite lovely, as well.

The rest? crap. It started out well, but about 3 minutes in, as someone noted above, the Cuteness started. Overall, it's not really a good movie for kids, but there's so much darn cute in there that it's not really good for grownups either. They should have either done the story straight or not done it at all.

Pocahontas? Same thing. There are a couple of good bits in there, and I adore Grandmother Willow's characterization, but peh. peh!

The Little Mermaid, now.. if you forget that there's supposed to be a moral lesson, and ignore the source material, this movie is just fun. And oh. - uh. the voices. OMG the voices in this. Ursula the Seawitch is quite possibly one of my favorite characters ever.

I'll hush now. Disneyfication is an unfortunate thing.. but man, do they hire some talented musicians. This redeems many flaws to my singer's soul.

Comment from: TasteMyHouse [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 12:42 PM

"One of the key features of New Criticism is a disattention to anything outside the "text" of the work -- particularly the life of the author, but including earlier titles."

*blink blink blink*

But thats insanity! the...


WHAT? Thats NONSENSE


Also, Les Mis has great music.

Comment from: TasteMyHouse [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 12:42 PM

"One of the key features of New Criticism is a disattention to anything outside the "text" of the work -- particularly the life of the author, but including earlier titles."

*blink blink blink*

But thats insanity! the...


WHAT? Thats NONSENSE


Also, Les Mis has great music.

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 2:14 PM

One quick thing. No one translated Les Miserables from a French book into an English musical. It was translated from a French book into a French musical and then the French musical was then translated into an English musical. So the fact that one language suddenly became another is a pretty silly point to rely on.

I'm lead to understand that it has since been translated into all sorts of other crazy booga booga foreign languages. Why, I've seen it performed in Hebrew! Which is not a beautiful thing, let me say.

As far as Disney goes, I've always appreciated how easy it is to just open up and take a big steamy dump all over 'em. Maybe I'm mellowing in my old age, but since having actually gone to WDW for the first time last year, I have a pretty decent appreciation for most Disney movies. Even Hercules, though I initially hated it.

Not Pocahontas, though. I mean, there's just no excuse.

Lemme clue people in on the key for discovering the real magic of Hunchback. First, ignore the fact that it's based on a novel. The novel was overrated anyway. Then, and this is absolutely key, pay attention to the fact that no one but Quasimodo talks to the gargoyles. No one. Why? Cos they're not really there. Unlike most Disney animated cute talking creatures, the gargoyles aren't really talking to Quasi. They're all in his head because he is fucking insane.

Yeah, that makes it so much more palatable.

Anyway, I kind of find it hard to say that they ruined it when they took something and made it their own. Especially if the newer version can be considered enjoyable. People have been doing that for ages. Though I suppose crotchety old men in togas were stomping their staves against the ground and insisting that Homer had ruined the story of Achilles with his stupid Oddessey scroll.

With the exception being Pocahontas. Just no excuse.

Comment from: Brendan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 2:29 PM

William_G, again, the play was not written in English. It opened in Paris, then it was translated for British audiences two years later, and five years after THAT it opened on Broadway. I'll admit it lost a little bit, but there are still strong senses of Hugo's politics and philosophy in the various songs, which is a hell of a lot more than can be said for most adaptations of classics nowadays in any medium, and the love subplot, while stronger than in the book, still isn't really all that overwhelming.

And there really isn't an "original version" of Hercules/Ἡρακλης, per se. He was a familiar character, a supermacho archetype for better or for worse, used as a primary or supporting figure in various plays and poems of masculine deeds - the Chuck Norris of his day. (The most familiar, of course, is the twelve labours, but that's by no means the only one.) That said, there is an integrity to the character that Disney really, really screwed over. (And don't get me started on that asinine cartoon.) Compared to Disney, the guy who wrote that campy WB show was Apollonius.

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 2:32 PM

Oh, and in response to the joke about Disney making an awful adaption of Les Miserables? If they did that, your Kimba the White Lion fans would just turn around and accuse Disney of having ripped off Jean Valjean Monogatari. Or Arm Joe.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 3:01 PM

It opened in Paris, then it was translated for British audiences two years later

Translated, adapted, and considerably rewritten. (And then messed with again for Broadway. Am I right in understanding that, when we get to the upcoming Broadway revival show, it's been truncated slightly yet again?) I'm sure this has been covered and I've somehow missed it in the depths of my no sleep.

Somewhere in storage are two of my most treasured fucked-up things: translation albums based on the Broadway libretto. One is a tape of the Hungarian version, mostly worth having for the title that barely fits on the cover. The other is a CD of the original Parisian Broadway Version cast. Yep, they wrote a concept album, then a show, then ported it to English, then adapted it for America, then translated THAT version BACK INTO FRENCH.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 3:20 PM

I've never watched the Disney Herc. The little bit I saw when my sister played Kingdom Hearts was more than enough. For me, Hercules will always be Kevin Sorbo followed around by Michael Hurst.

Comment from: Kudilu [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 5:04 PM

RE: Little Mermaid -
from what i understand, the end is what most people who say 'they ruined it!' have a problem with - forgive me if this is not your peeve.
from what i have been told (i've never tried to go out and verify), there are actually 3 true, correct, written-by-the-origional-author endings. the first one is where she kills herself (throws herself into the sea) at the end so that her prince (i assume prince right now - that's what it usually is and i haven't seen the movie in years) can be happy with the (human) woman he's fallen in love with. i unfortunatly do not remember the second one, but in the third ending, she DOES end up with the prince in the end. the reason the author wrote 3 endings, from what i have been told, is because the first two made his daughter cry. so he wrote her a happy ending.

end of my hearsay . . .

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 5:31 PM

Kudilu: I once read an "original version" book of fairy tales wherein the Little Mermaid's sisters got a magic knife which she was supposed to use to kill the prince and his new bride. Apparently, she couldn't return to the sea without doing this.

Instead, of course, she flung herself into the depths and drowned, and as she did, was granted a soul for her sacrifice.

But perhaps the version where she killed them both, and herself, were your 2nd version? It sure would have made me cry as a little girl.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 5:43 PM

Man, I'd hate to think what you'd think of Fantasia 2000 where Donald and Daisy Duck played the roles of Noah and his Wife (Noah' wife's name has to be Ethel) in one of the songs.

As for Disney animated films in general, I've said this before, they'd be much better off if they tried making original films instead of trying to adapt a children's story to today's finicky children. That's why Disney had to buy out Pixar, it was the only thing that was producing hits for Disney. And Pixar just made original art and stuck with focusing on the story, not the stars or the "Based on a story by..." to lure people in. (Newest Pixar film: Cars. With Paul Newman voicing as a Rolls Royce.)

As for Broadway: The Tony for Best Musical one year went to a musical that was based off of a movie which that was based off of another Broadway Play. How goofy can you get? (And that Musical was The Producers.) Don't even let me get started on Momma Mia!.

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 6:20 PM

a tape of the Hungarian version, mostly worth having for the title that barely fits on the cover. The other is a CD of the original Parisian Broadway Version cast.
I've got the Japanese version with Jean Valjean played by Chairman Kaga. Worth it for the picture of him in costume!

Comment from: Jenny Rowland [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 7:57 PM

[quote]I once read an "original version" book of fairy tales wherein the Little Mermaid's sisters got a magic knife which she was supposed to use to kill the prince and his new bride. Apparently, she couldn't return to the sea without doing this.

Instead, of course, she flung herself into the depths and drowned, and as she did, was granted a soul for her sacrifice.[/quote]

There was a 1975 Japanese version of The Little Mermaid, with this ending (minus the soul, at least in the dub), and sans the dreaded Disney-fication (no shell tops on THESE mermaids!). Sadly, it has yet to be released on DVD, but sometimes you can find an old videocassette on eBay, and there's also fileshared copies floating around out there.

Hooray for useless knowledge!

Comment from: kirabug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 9:28 PM

Strange Brew: my husband laughed his tail off when I pointed out Hamlet. So Eric's not alone.

Disney's....
Hercules: I know I've seen it, but I think I've blocked most of it out.
Pocohontas: Didn't see it. When I realized the soundtrack sucked I didn't bother.
Lion King: Except for the constant Elton John songs, excellent. The alternate soundtrack, Rhythm of the Pridelands, rocks.
Hunchback: I liked the movie enough to buy the soundtrack, but I really only listen to it for the emotional songs and ignore the weird stuff.
Little Mermaid: Only saw it a few times and thought the ending modifications were a little lame but since I had a 3 year old sister at the time I was prone to be fogiving for the sappy ending. (Hunchback; not so much.)
Beauty and the Beast: I used to terrify same sister by telling her that this time the Beast's going to die at the end.

Les Mis: I never saw the musical but I do own the full-length CDs and despite the fact that it significantly shortened the plot I thought it was pretty good. I read the unabridged English translation around the same time as I started listening to the musical soundtrack and remember thinking that the musical didn't ruin it half as badly as I'd expected.

Disney creativity: Laaaaaame. But then, there's Emporer's New Groove, and that means there's also Kronk. I love Kronk.

:)

Comment from: Chris "EDG" Anthony [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 10:23 PM

Darrin, part of the problem I see here is imputation of motive. There is a default assumption that The Classics were only writing for Pure motives, which is to say that they were Exploring The Story or Making Social Commentary; likewise, there is a default assumption that The New is only writing for Impure motives, which is to say that they want to make money and gain prestige. Let's not forget that Seneca was in the game for power and influence, even to the point that Nero felt it necessary to compel Seneca's death (and, in the process, let's not forget that the Greek playwrights were competing for prizes and, at least early on, trying to get into the good graces of their gods and priests); let's not forget that even though Disney is making money from their productions, that they are only producing to make money is not necessarily the correct conclusion.

In fact, I deliberately chose Seneca's Oedipus as my example, because it panders directly to its intended audience (assuming, of course, that it was written for the stage - which it may not have been, in which case the pandering is even more inexplicable). Instead of Tiresias being a seer - as he is depicted in Sophocles's Oedipous Tyrannos - he is an augurer, and Seneca's version of the story not only directly depicts the onstage slaughter of several animals but has one of the characters narrate the gory details. I suspect that the only reason that Creon relates the summoning of the spirits of the dead from the underworld is that it would have been too difficult a feat for the Roman stage, as with Oedipus's blinding; the same cannot be said of Jocasta's death, by self-impalement, which - no New Critic I, as I draw from the cultural context - may well have been the actual death of an Imperial convict.

My point here is not to say that Seneca was a cruel and awful person, because by all accounts he probably wasn't; I'm merely reflecting on the necessity of fully examining a work before accepting or dismissing it - and, to be honest, I don't believe I've yet read a negative review of Hercules that didn't rely on "it's different" and "Disney made money" as its talking points.

I should also point out that I do draw a distinction between "I don't like it" and "it's bad". Personal preference does merit reflection, but I have neither the grounds nor the desire to debate it.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 14, 2006 10:42 PM

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but Shakespeare wasn't above writing to kiss up. People who actually studied stuff written in English would have to confirm this, but I believe Banquo was written into Macbeth to kiss up to Will's patron.

Also, if we're going to go along the impure route, let's not also forget the desire for revenge. Read La Commedia at some point. Dante Alighieri wasn't just writing to make some great art. He wanted to clear his own name of accused crimes and drag his enemies through the mud. Now, for all I know today, Boniface VIII was a wonderful guy who did all he could to make things better for all Italians, but the only image I have of the guy is someone who is ranked somewhere just above Judas in the history of Christianity.

I guess it's easy to assume the best out of artists since passed on because they're not the ones asking us for money anymore.

Comment from: Tyck [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 1:31 AM

Ok, so.. Disney's musicals are better 'watched' as soundtracks, which is true of pretty much all musicals. That's the sum of most of this conversation, isn't it?

Lemme clue people in on the key for discovering the real magic of Hunchback. First, ignore the fact that it's based on a novel. The novel was overrated anyway. Then, and this is absolutely key, pay attention to the fact that no one but Quasimodo talks to the gargoyles. No one. Why? Cos they're not really there. Unlike most Disney animated cute talking creatures, the gargoyles aren't really talking to Quasi. They're all in his head because he is fucking insane.

I couldn't tell if this was serious or not, but it doesn't work. The clincher for the gargoyles being real is the siege of Notre Dame; in order for Quasimodo to do everything the gargoyles are doing there, he'd have to be quad-locate. Which would give us the insane, superpowered Hunchback. I have to admit I'd like to see that version.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 1:34 AM

According to Food Network, he also played Tony in the Japanese version West Side Story and also as the first "Japanese Jesus" in Jesus Christ Superstar. That would explain the numberous number of fish and bread battles.

32: I think that's mostly because of tales like Mozart who was the original boy genius flames out and dies penniless. (Which makes me wonder sometimes what exactly was popular during the time of Mozart? If there was a Bilboard chart at a random point of Mozart's life, would it be filled with folk songs or remixes of Bach?) Or even more penniless artists like Vincint Van Gogh, who cut off his right ear to show a girl how much he loved her. Artists are just as human and as foilable as the next guy. We rever their art now when during their lifetime, they probably thought it was pure crap.

Comment from: Sili [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 7:09 AM

Van Gogh cut off his ear to show a girl his love? I thought it was to show Gauguin how much he cared.

As for Disneyfication (not necessarily by Disney) I'm surprised no one (myself included) has yet brought up "Rent". Now there's an effed up modernisation. But the tunes are pretty.

Comment from: Darrin_Bright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 8:23 AM

Chris "EDG": I should have admitted I wasn't familiar with Seneca or his version of Oedipus (I should have at least done a Google search). I don't think assigning "pure" or "impure" to creative motives is necessary (although I think your point might be that we do this unconsciously). As others have pointed out, great or bad art can be created with a variety of motives, and just because a work has been around longer shouldn't necessarily elevate it above newer "retellings". (Although there's an argument that something that continues to be relevant to later generations has some innate quality that distinguishes it from a more transitory work.)

> I should also point out that I do draw a
> distinction between "I don't like it"
> and "it's bad". Personal preference does merit
> reflection, but I have neither the grounds nor
> the desire to debate it.

A very good distinction, but I guess what I'm trying to say is, "I don't like what Disney did, and these are the reasons why I think their creative decisions resulted in a bad work of art." And we can get into the analysis of that, and there's a certain point where we can pretend the discussion is an objective analysis supported by observation and evidence.

However, the big dirty secret about critical analysis of art is that it all boils down to an individual's personal experience and opinion. This is sort of the point the deconstructionists were trying to get at, but the problem they ran into is ultimately it doesn't lead to any new understanding. But it does drive the constructionists batcrap crazy, which maybe is ultimately the point of deconstructionism.

Comment from: Thomas Blight [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 1:56 PM

This is totally late, but the most direct translation for "Les Misérables" that I can find is "The Pathetic". (that's as an adjective. You could call it "The Curs" if you used misérables as a plural noun)

Comment from: B. Durbin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 2:47 PM

From what I understand, the original French musical of Les Mis presupposed a familiarity with the work. It would be as though one were to do a musical of Star Wars and started as they get pulled onto the Death Star— your target audience is so familiar with the material that they fill in the blanks (though you'd still get the protesters outside with signs saying "Han Shot First.")

So when they pulled the musical into English, they grabbed the major melodic themes and went from there. Certain motifs are given to other characters, for instance. But they had to actually give a little backstory, rather than starting with Fantine.

And since Hugo is the king of digression— over 20 chapters on Waterloo alone, only incidentally related to the story at hand— the central plotline is a lot easier to fit into a musical than, say, Dickens. However, every abridged version I've ever glanced at seems to suck out the soul of the novel by taking out the characterization that makes the novel work so well. Unabridged is the way to go.

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 3:09 PM

The Waterloo section is a lot like the Whaling chapters in _Moby Dick_. On a first reading, I recommend skipping it entirely. Also the entire first section about the Bishop. Once you've gotten through the book once, concentrating just on the core plotline, dive back in and read the whole thing.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 3:59 PM

If I recall my dreadfully boring (because of the prof, mainly) Music History classes correctly, Mozart was penniless largely because he was a) an idiot, and b) Salieri hated him.

You see, Salieri was The Big Man in their day, and Mozart was a jackass to him, essentially, causing a life-long rift. Salieri had the primo patronage thing going on (one of the few ways for a composer to really make a good living, btw, was to find a super-rich patron to pay you to write), and used his fairly extensive influence to keep Mozart out of the limelight.

Thing is, there were still patrons who would have kept Mozart alive and fed, because they recognized that his music was beautiful and gifted, etc., but he was so unprofessional and hard to deal with that he kept losing his sponsors. His operas, while not Box Office Smashes, were well-received, and his fame did grow through his lifetime. In his case, at least, his poverty was more about his personality and inability to function in the "real world" than lack of recognition of his talent.

Comment from: Theory Girl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 4:15 PM

"As for Broadway: The Tony for Best Musical one year went to a musical that was based off of a movie which that was based off of another Broadway Play. How goofy can you get? (And that Musical was The Producers.)"
Actually, it was always a movie first (although if I recall correctly from the DVD, Mel Brooks just *wrote* it, and then made it a movie after deciding it wasn't right for a play or a novel).

"I'm surprised no one (myself included) has yet brought up "Rent". Now there's an effed up modernisation. But the tunes are pretty."
I haven't seen the show or the movie (although I have listened to the Original Cast Recording a time or two), but I read a while ago that the musical was based more on the original book than on the opera.

Comment from: Mazlynn [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 4:53 PM

"But perhaps the version where she killed them both, and herself, were your 2nd version? It sure would have made me cry as a little girl."

In the version I'm familiar with, the little mermaid gets to stay on land with her love, but every step feels like she's walking on knives. She has to pay a cost for breaking the rules to stay with her prince.

This is the problem I had with the Disney ending - there were no consequences for her going off and doing whatever she felt like. The cost didn't have to be as severe as the suicide/lifelong pain versions, since it IS a childrens movie, but I would have liked to see some cost at the end. The moral in the Disney movie seems to come across as "do whatever you want without regard to consequences, because it will all work out in the end."

Comment from: Mazlynn [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 4:56 PM

Grr.. can't seem to get the formatting right on quotes. Only the first bit above was supposed to be quoted.

Comment from: Doug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 5:18 PM

In his case, at least, his poverty was more about his personality and inability to function in the "real world" than lack of recognition of his talent.

Mozart: briliant, arrogant at times, insecure, unconventional and not someone that fitted comfortably into social settings, being rude and eccentric and often irresponsibly neglectful of the necessary tasks of life...

He was a nerd. I bet he even overclocked his harpsichord!

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 15, 2006 10:00 PM

The harpsichord is the MIDI of the piano family. I've played it. It sounds like you're playing in a sardine can, with the sardines still in it. It sounds worse than the early computer music on Atari games and the songs on Bonus Stage.

Althrough the explosion sounds when you hit your opponent on thost tank and airplane games, that was a cool sound.

Comment from: Chaomancer Omega [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 16, 2006 3:21 AM

About Hercules: Bearing in mind that I haven't actually seen the movie, so take this with a grain of salt or just declare it bullshitting if you will... when Hercules first was released, the advertising, promotional spots, and so forth gave the distinct impression that this was deliberately a comedy. Not a movie with a few comedic elements, like Aladdin, but a deliberate attempt by Disney to be a funny movie.

Not having seen it, I can't say whether this is an accurate reflection or not, but I'll give Disney's marketing department some credit and act on the assumption that the movie was indeed intended as a comedy.

And that gives it a free pass from me. Not on issues of quality, but on accuracy. Comedies aren't meant to be taken seriously, by definition, and thus it is to be expected that they don't take their source material seriously. Most comedies that have a specific source material take copious liberties with it, omitting unfunny details and adding new things in order to punch it up. So Hercules, if truly intended to be a comedy, is not something I would hold to a standard of faithfulness to the original.

Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid... those are all ones where I would consider it fair game to do so.

And as for Pocahontas... ah, don't get me started.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 16, 2006 9:46 AM

And sorry to keep beating this here dead horse but I wanted to say one more thing about Little Mermaid. There are multiple versions but the actual original was a story written by Hans Christian Anderson (which is why its status as a "fairy tale" is debated). In the end, she doesn't get the man, and is told that instead she can murder him to stay human and not die. But she doesn't because she has a pure heart blah blah blah, so instead her many sisters all KILL THEMSELVES for her, so she can live a half-life as a non-talking, knives-in-feet human ... the reward of this being, she gets to go to Heaven when she dies, unlike the mermaids who turn into seafoam because they don't have souls. The end of the story notes that every time a child disobeys their parents, the Little Mermaid gets one more day in purgatory.

This moral, I feel, is just as reprehensible as any that Disney could tack on.

(Plus the Disney version has Under the Sea and Erection Priest. Those things are AWESOME)

Comment from: EDG [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 16, 2006 4:41 PM

Chaomancer, should we chalk you up for another "it's different" vote, then?

Also, I think you're laboring under a misapprehension: just because something is funny doesn't mean that it's not meant to be taken seriously. Take Lysistrata as an example. The play is one of the funniest (and dirtiest - I do not exaggerate when I say that there's a sex joke every ten lines or so, on average) in the history of the stage, but Aristophanes had a very serious purpose: Lysistrata might have an absurd take on how to end the Peloponnesian War, but the playwright really did intend his audience to think about whether an end to the war was called for. (He almost certainly believed that it was.) Likewise, Petronius's Satyricon, at least what we have of it, is a sharp criticism of Petronius's society and its values, despite being what might be the first recorded farce.

For that matter, I'm reading between the lines here, but there's a difference between not taking the subject matter seriously and being disrespectful to the subject matter. I actually don't think Hercules does either, but it certainly doesn't do the latter.

Incidentally, Hercules is no more a "funny movie" than Aladdin is. It has more humor content, overall, than Aladdin does, but it still follows the "everything is fun and games until someone angers the gods" track that nearly all of the recent Disney features have followed.

Incidental to that, I encourage everyone to track down and read the original Aladdin (Ala-al-Din) story, which you should be able to find in Burton's The Arabian Nights. As a sneak preview, Disney has carefully elided such elements as Ala-al-Din murdering his mother to get to a treasure vault...

Comment from: siwangmu [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 17, 2006 11:32 PM

A hilarious side note: Pocahontas has been used on a history test.

Okay, only sort of. It's not my fault that they actually put the formula "God, gold and glory" in the textbook we were working from and the opening lines of one of the Pocohontas songs are "In 1607, we sailed the open sea/ For glory, God, and gold and the Virginia Company!" And I would've remembered the elements anyway, but that doesn't erase the private, priceless moment when I read an exam question (three motivations for this particular bit of colonization) (yes, this exam not a big critical thinking exercise) in an American History class and actually had lyrics from Pocahontas run through my head.

I'm sure Disney just cribbed the phrasing from convention or something, but still, history class. Disney's Pocahontas. Armageddon.

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