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:

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

Trickle down

Date: 2009
Posted by: El3mentaryPenguin
Cast: Siobhan O’Sullivan (Marilyn), Kyle Phillips (Stan), Lorrie McInnis (Marie), Bevin Green (Simone Athens), Taylor Ashcroft (Pamela), Ramon Balderas (Lucius), Lanie Goodrich (Apemantus), Ruben Figueroa (Archie Baldes)
Credits: Colour and Sound Moving Pictures Present. Directed by Josh Hensley, written by Lanie Goodrich and Josh Hensley,
Duration: 1.38, 6.24, and 7.55

This curious effort in three parts looks like a student effort to modernise their study play. It would be difficult to recognise this as an adaptation of Timon of Athens if one had not been prompted beforehand; indeed, it is not too easy to recognise its debt to Shakespeare’s play even if one knows its source of inspiration. Yet, as clumsy as it is (with dialogue drowned out by wind and passing traffic) and with action almost impossible to follow (part one seems incomplete), it is intriguingly earnest and mysteriously oblique. It describes itself as “a story of the rottenness of society. Everything comes down to the dirty dollar”. It is worth watching twice to see how the young filmmakers try to hang on to Shakespeare’s play, even though they fail.

Part 2

Part 3

YouTube page: Part 1
YouTube page: Part 2
YouTube page: Part 3

Apemantus and Timon

Date: 2007
Posted by: peterbruce01
Credits: Filmed by Peter Bruce, for the Balmain Picture Company
Cast: Not named
Duration: 1.47

This is an extract from an Australian ‘grunge’ version of Timon of Athens, information on which is hard to find. As an extract alone, it is startling and fresh. The sequence shows the confrontation between the caustic Apemantus and Timon’ from Act 1 Scene 1 (“Thou art proud, Apemantus.” “Of nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.”), rawly filmed on miniDV in the bright sunshine of Sydney, making the confrontation look like an everyday street brawl. The realism is intriguingly counterpointed by the use of on-screen text relaying the dialogue.

Such immediacy and roughness of technique might prove a little wearing over the course of an entire film/play, but that’s an unfair judgement without having seen the thing. There is also a ‘preview’ of sorts with a range of clips from the full work (entitled Timon of Athens) indicating something original, rough-hewn and exciting.

Date: 2007
Posted by: peterbruce01
Credits: Filmed by Peter Bruce, for the Balmain Picture Company
Cast: Not named
Duration: 1.23

Apemantus and Timon YouTube page
Timon of Athens Preview YouTube page

Timon’s Friendship Adventure

Date: 2007
Posted by: MosesHouse
Credits: Directed by Max Littman, writer/executive producer Michael Weinreich, produced by Lisa Shapiro, director of photography Maximilian Schmige, production manager Annie Wilkes, art director Janet Franco, editor Adriana Blancarte, gaffer/grip/camera operator Matthew Ace Palanca, music Edvard Grieg (Gavin Gamboa-piano, Timothy Beutler – drums, Luke Webb – guitar)
Cast: Jason Davids Scott (Timon), Lauren Bruniges (Sherry), Maximilian Schwarzenbach (Samuel), Martha Mintz (Beatrice), Eric Hedlund (Raphael), Merlin Huff (Edgar (Servant no. 1), Nicholas Owen Tapis (Servant no. 2), Miguel Juanreichez (The Gardener)
Duration: 7.12

Bloody modern dress, modern silent film (including intertitles, piano music and black-and-white cinematography), based on Timon of Athens (though in practice it seems to owe rather more to Titus Andronicus). As the film’s website puts it:

Timon’s Friendship Adventure is the story of a jovial, plump, rich man. His main concern is the happiness of those around him – so much so that his generosity soon results in his own bankruptcy. When he asks his friends for loans he discovers that friendship can sometimes be a one-way street.

Made in 2007 and featured at various film festivals. Just a shame about the electric guitar.

YouTube page
Film’s website