Newsnight Review discussed Channel 4's new film of Twelfth Night.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)
It's beautifully spoken, it's very
well played. But, television's very cruel
medium. What you have to do on
television is tell people where the thing is
happening, who's who and what's going on.
I know this play very well. If I didn't, I
wouldn't have known what was happening.
For instance, the two actors are supposed
to be twins, they don't like twins. So, you
know you sit there and it's crude things like
that that happen. You
have to place this for an audience who
don't know this play. That is what they are
trying to do, but it doesn't work.
Michael Gove I'm surprised they chose
this. Once you get to Twelfth Night there is
not contemporary equipment for being
cross-gartered or boys going around
pretending to be women, so it's hard to
The cross-gartered thing is done by having
Malvolio wearing a lurid kilt, which makes
his attempts to be a seducer and lover even
more ludicrous! There are certain
difficulties if you are not familiar with the
play in grappling with it. As you hint,
Mark, Shakespeare's comedies are the most
difficult of his plays to translate to the 21st
century. Having said that, anyone who has
a nodding familiarity with the play will
enjoy it. A teenage audience will enjoy
some of the performances in it. I think the
other thing is that for people who are
familiar with the play, some of the
ingenuity with which certain of the scenes
are constructed is striking and admirable.
Paul Morley, Baz Luhrmann kept the
words and changed the pictures. Here,
they've kept the words and changed the
pictures, was that the right decision?
I don't think they've changed the pictures
enough. I enjoyed it and it's successful and
the music helps a lot. It was a wonderful
opportunity to create this topsy turvy world
in a more radical way than they did. Elyria
is suggesting that the land is television and
they have a chance to do that. They didn't
do that enough. It stopped just at the level
of being schools television but with great
radical potential. I did enjoy it very much.