Saturday, November 20, 2010
Samuel Beckett Double Feature One
This weekend we're doing a double feature of double features. All the films come from the the Beckett on Film box set. This was the filming of all of Samuel Beckett's plays to make sure that there is a film record of all of the writers stage work. Beckett wrote 19 plays three or four full length and the rest run between thirty seconds and 45 minutes. The set is very up and down, much like Beckett's work. However there are a few choice gems in the set and I'd like to point them out.
Rough For Theater 1 (2000)
"Why Don't you do yourself in?" "I'm not unhappy enough."
In what appears to be a deserted city a man in a makeshift wheel chair makes his way toward some music. There he finds a blind man trying to get money from whoever (there is no one) passes. They strike up a conversation and talk about joining forces for mobility and safety. Brief sketch that begins and ends in the middle of the action Its a dark piece of fluff. Its a truly "Rough" piece of something. Taken as a nothing its an enjoyable little piece. The real joy is the performance, especially David Kelly as the Blind Man. It is a staggering and heart breaking performance and it will make you mad that it wasn't noticed to win any awards. A good little film
Waiting for Godot (2001)
Two men wait in a wasteland for a mysterious man named Godot who may hold the key to their future.
For me this is the best version of the play I've ever seen. I've read the play any number of times, I've seen it on stage with Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin and I've seen several other film (or rather TV) versions of the play and every time I've seen it I've never found the wonder that many people find in the play.
I don't get it.
Perhaps its the fact that the play has become part of our cultural history and has been riffed on and parodied that its lost some of it power. (Personally I think its not that good but that's another thing all together). In all the times I've seen it I only fleetingly found the humor and the magic of the play.
That is until I saw this version.
Seeing this film with Barry McGovern and Johnny Murphy I at last found the play to be funny and touching. Thanks to Michael Lindsay Hogg's direction I saw the humor and the magic. I still don't think its a great play, but for the first time in decades of wrestling with the play I finally found a reason to understand why the play is constantly being revived. There is humor and there is magic- you just have to have the right actors in the lead roles, and you also need a way of bringing the audience into the action. This film has that in spades.
Actually the best thing I can say about this film is that for the first time in my life I'm looking forward to seeing Waiting for Godot again, not because its "good" for me but because there is a version of it I love.