Sunday, February 24, 2008


We have started watching the plays of George Bernard Shaw on DVD. Last night we watched 'Man of Destiny' and 'Arms and the Man'. Shaw was once thought second only to Shakespeare as an British playwright. This DVD collection was first broadcast on BBC TV in the eighties. Many well known actors appear as callow youths, among them Simon Callow who plays Napoleon and Helena Bonham-Carter who is a long way from the corpse bride in the farce set in Bulgaria.

These are clearly filmed plays and they are very stagey. Nevertheless the actors do well and the diction comes over so well we turned the subtitles off. I doubt on this evidence that Shaw has weathered well. He is very given to aphorisms but they are not so witty nor so wise as those of Oscar Wilde.


Anonymous said...

We watched 'Pride and Prejudice' with Keira Lnightley a couple of nights ago. I had to admit it, but subtitles would have been wonderful. Although (of course) I'm familiar with the plot, the combination of the English accents and the archaic cadence and word choice had me hitting the replay button on the DVD remote more than a few times.

One of the worst times I've had trying to understand an (arguably) English language film was the wonderful miniseries "A Town Like Alice", with Bryan Brown, Helen Morse, and Gordon Jackson. Oh boy! The combination of the heavy Aussie as well as Scottish accent were way too much for this American film-goer.

(BTW, Dr. Hamblin, if you haven't seen A Town Like Alice (miniseries), it is really very, very good. I have it on videotape. Curiously, it may be hard to find in 'PAL' versions. It's worth seeking out.)

Terry Hamblin said...

I have changed English to British, though I meant a playwright writing in English. Shaw was Irish not English, though when he was writing Ireland was British, and like many provincials he spent as much time in London as he did in Dublin.