Thursday, August 20, 2009

Second thoughts

Hm. I find myself thinking of something a director I worked with in college once said - that the distinctive quality of a good play is that it makes your audience think. By that definition Lolita is a good movie, though it is not one I would ever want to see again. I woke up with the final scene with in my head. Kubrick and Mason do do something for Humbert; and I realise why that last scene with Humbert and Lolita is so painful - unlike Nabokov's Humbert, the Kubrick version has no distance. The scene is excruciating because it is recognisable; because it leaves the audience no room to back away from empathy.
I've also changed my mind about Sellers; well, he's a great actor of course, but the rewrite of the Clare Quilty part bothers me greatly, and on the whole it seems to be more about showcasing Sellers than about the movie; or perhaps it is a flawed attempt to engage the viewer on Humbert's side by introducing a more wicked (or more successful?) pervert.
Anyway, after all that I had to clean my brain yesterday, so I re-watched some scenes from Julius Caesar. It helped. I think I love James Mason now. I know, he's dead, but that's hardly an issue. I had a crush on the 28-year-old Oscar Wilde when I was seventeen, so clearly I am not deterred by deadness, sexual orientation or knee breeches. Frankly, there is very little practical difference to me between, say, the living Robert Whatsisface and the late James Mason, except that James Mason was rather better at acting. I assume it would matter if I planned to stalk them, in which case Mason or Wilde would be much the easier target, what with staying in one place. Yet I have no such plan, though I have seen Oscar's grave. Anyway, my point is - am I going to ever randomly meet either Mason, Wilde or Whatsisface? No, I am not. Do I care? Not so much. Will I obsess over their actual work? Well, in the case of Mason/Wilde, yes.
Goodness, I really didn't mean to make this into a rant about dead people. What I was actually going to say was that I watched that Brutus/Cassius argument yet again and it is undiminished. It is as beautiful and complex now as it was when I was watching it from the stage in college. So powerful - and I am reminded that the fuss about Shakespeare is not altogether unwarrented.

No comments: