Julius Caesar’s Cell Block Tango

Date: 2009
Posted by: KiteShiro
Cast: Marlon Brando (Mark Antony), James Mason (Brutus), John Gielgud (Cassius), Louis Calhern (Julius Caesar) etc.
Credits: Music composed by John Kander, lyrics written by Fred Ebb
Duration: 7.22

Well, you can look at the phenomenon of YouTube Shakespeare and get all critically serious, coming up (you hope) with some telling observations which will advance the state of human knowledge, or you can just have fun. And this is great fun. It’s a fanvid, or the product of vidding (Wikipedia: “the fan labor practice in media fandom of creating music videos from the footage of one or more visual media sources, thereby exploring the source itself in a new way”). In this case someone has taken the 1953 MGM film Julius Caesar, and cross-fertilised it with ‘Cell Block Tango’ from the musical Chicago. Though the video quality is not that great, the re-cutting on the film to the music is spot on. What does is matter if the spoken sections don’t even remotely synchronise with the mouths? It’s funny. It makes you smile because you know the film, the musical and the play, and they come together beautifully. This is what 400 years of popular culture can do for us. And, let’s face it, Shakespeare would be kicking himself for not having come up with these words first.

He had it coming
He had it coming
He only had himself to blame

If you’d have been there
If you’d have heard it
I betcha you would
Have done the same!

Ending with the MGM logo is a nice touch too.

Links: YouTube page
Lyrics to ‘Cell Block Tango’ at Metrolyrics.com

Infinite Monkey Syndrome

Date: 2012
Posted by: James R. Ford
Cast: Not given
Credits: Produced by James R. Ford
Duration: 1.30

A few months ago it was reported that US programmer Jesse Anderson had set up a virtual set of some millions of monkeys (using Hadoop), all of them tying at random on virtual typewriters, and had managed produce something that was 99.99% Shakespeare – the first text to be achieved in this way being ‘A Lover’s Complaint’. Anderson had cut corners however, because every time the random typing came up with words that roughly matched something from the Shakespeare canon then they would be retained, if not then discarded. With this and other constraints, Anderson could achieve his goal. The purely random production of Shakespeare by an infinite number of monkeys remains something for the philosophers and theoretical mathematicians.

Or for a videomaker. This droll piece, made by British artist James R. Ford, is an extract from a 9 minutes 8 second loop (therefore designed in principle to run forever). It shows us a woman in a monkey suit, typing Shakespeare, as the tags to the video tell us, because otherwise we would not know (a photograph of the typewriter on the artist’s website indicates that only gibberish has been produced – so far). Is is a Shakespeare video? I say that it is – and so it is (and just to make the point this post has been tagged with all of the plays and poems). A video to watch, infinitely.

Jesse Anderson explains more about his project on this video:

Links:
YouTube page
BBC online news item on Jesse Anderson’s project
Jesse Anderson’s Million Monkeys Project
James R. Ford’s personal website

The Play’s the Thing… That I Hate

Date: 2008
Posted by: TheLionHaired
Credits: Filmed by Derek
Cast: Derek
Duration: 3.57

TheLionHaired (handsome title, but his real name’s Derek) hates Shakespeare. He hates Chaucer too, but particularly he hates Shakespeare. Why do the characters take so long to say so little? Just look at Hamlet. Why to the characters do dumb stuff which just isn’t plausible, much like characters in horror movies? Romeo and Juliet were just idiots. All they had to do was run away to Mantua. And in Macbeth, what was the point of murdering Banquo? And Brutus killing Julius Caesar, that’s just wrong. Titus is OK, but he just held back too much. “If Lavinia had been my daughter – and what happened to her – I would have been a little more active”. In general he hates Shakespeare. Or maybe it’s just the plays. Because he quite likes the poetry…

Sorry, Derek, but I don’t believe you. This diatribe shows too much eloquence, just a little too much knowledge of the plays. I can hardly think of a better example of a video to stimulate a class discussion than what is on display here. I think Shakespeare’s has got to you more than you may know, as yet.

Links:
YouTube page

Caesar and the Payatas Boys

Date: 2007
Posted by: pepblue12
Credits: Filmed (presumably) by Denice Planas
Cast: Kristiann Bonus, Pauline Bueno, Jenny Gagucan, Finzy Gonzales, Athena Parro, Abby Peralta, Denice Planas, Ceej Tantengco, Janina Yap
Duration: 6.13

Well, to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. I know Act 1 of Julius Caesar, of which this is an interpretation, and I recognise the characters and sort of where the action is going on, but I am too old to know what on earth is being said.

But so what? This is a lively English school project by a bunch of Philippine schoolgirls (Payatas is a slum site outside Manila), who have taken the play and presented it as a silent film with faux scratches, intertitles (Brutus: “I just feel emotional today. I have so many problems”) and cheap organ music. The action in between is just goofing around – what counts is the teenspeak dialogue with assorted in-jokes and in-slang. We’re promised anti-Caesar spraypainting tags, but then the video ends with a ‘to be continued…’ Shame. Now they’ve moved on to higher classes, and we’ll probably never know what might have happened.

Links:
YouTube page

William Shakespeare’s Julius Cesar

Date: 2009
Posted by: PeterVentresca
Credits: None
Cast: Marcus Simpson (Mark Antony)
Duration: 2.56

Shame about the spelling mistake in the on-screen title (and the YouTube page spells ‘monologue’ wrong as well), but this is an interesting take on Mark Antony’s ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’ speech simply by virtue of its background. Filmed at night outside a house, Antony’s words are accompanied by the incessant burr of crickets and passing traffic. The rendition is fine, the camera work uncertain (zooming in and out without much purpose) but it’s the strangeness that matters. Simpson (a drama student at Syracuse University) does not address the camera but an invisible crowd all about him – maybe the indifferent crickets and cars of American suburbia.

Links:
YouTube page

Shakespeare Paradox

Date: 2005
Posted by: ElMatadore88
Credits: Created by Edward
Cast: Andrew Dexter, Casey Inouye, Edward Fan, Maki Hattori, Nolan Chung
Duration: 10.43

Posted on 18 December 2005, this must be one of the earliest original Shakespeare titles on YouTube. It’s certainly not a conventional production. Describing itself as ‘all the confusing themes of Shakespeare packed into one!’ the video is tagged with such terms as ‘blood’, ‘honor’, ‘ghosts’, ‘romance’ and ‘love’. It starts with Shakespeare’s name written out in what look like cushions, with a piano is played and voices mutter in the background. The images that follow include a church, a paper boat in water having rocks dropped on it (and then the film reversed), birds by a pond, schoolroom actors (mostly Chinese-American) with masks grimacing at the camera, a boy giving birth to a rock, a young woman with a moustache (‘this is what’ll you learn in Shakespeare’), an invisible man, ghostly figures (some of whom dance in the style of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’), blood, fighting, and snatches through out of Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and the sonnets. With snatches of music, messages written on hands, and voices played backgrounds, this is a puzzle, if not quite a paradox. To a degree, it’s just a silly student jape, but it’s a creative jape for all that.

Links
YouTube page

Then Fall Caesar

Date: 2007
Posted by: thenardier1
Credits: Created by Brian Randall for Brandall Films
Cast: Lego
Duration: 4.25

A dynamic intepretation in Lego of the assassination scene from Julius Caesar, enhanced by some creative camera work but weakened somewhat by poor picture quality.

Links
YouTube page