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February 24 2011

Kenneth Branagh praises Joss Whedon. The Thor director calls Joss "a marvellous writer" and thinks he is a "great choice" for The Avengers.

Goes from being not there to being a black box but doesn't want to be a video for me, in either Firefox 3.6.13 or (*spits*) Internet Explorer.

Branagh's always come across as a sensible fellow though, this news doesn't dissuade. Also "marvellous" ? Heh ;).
High praise, indeed. I can't wait to see how Branagh's directorial sensibilities translate Thor. I still get a little verklempt when I think about his Hamlet.
Yeah, it was pretty good but he should never have killed him off at the end, totally destroyed any potential franchise opportunities.
Re the franchise:

The Stoppard cross-over attempt suffered from the same death problem. Maybe a prequel would work. They are all the rage these days... Hamlet: The College Years. (Wacky hijinks at Wittenberg U) Or a spin off with Fortinbras... The Hamlet Conspiracy (A political drama built around the government cover-up of the mess made by all those deaths of high muckety-mucks) Or a total reboot...The Adventures of Hamlet (Where it is found that Laertes and Hamlet were not really poisoned or at odds but faked the whole thing because they simply wanted to go off and explore the world unfettered. A road/buddy show.)

Re the lack of video:

Have you tried Chrome? It's become my goto video playing browser of choice.

[ edited by BreathesStory on 2011-02-24 16:23 ]

ETF: My crap typing

[ edited by BreathesStory on 2011-02-24 16:48 ]
John Updike's "Gertrude and Claudius" provides a source for a previous generation prequel a la the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Zombie and vampire movies are both in vogue, so Hamlet being dead is not a sequel-stopper.
I was talking about the scope and quality of the film and please excuse me if it seems to me like some people around here are being total dickheads lately. Or maybe I'm just not seeing how my sincere remark led to the above and the caffeine from my espresso has not totally alivened my sensibilities. Not everything is an opportunity for a cheap joke, Saje.
Tonya J - consider this a "hey, don't do that".
I thought it was funny...

And I loved Branagh's Hamlet, too. What a cast. *waits for Joss to work with Kate Winslet*
Yeah, funny was more the intention so that's a result. And Branagh's 'Hamlet' was indeed excellent. At the time there were complaints it was over-long but it never felt it to me (but then I thought the Zeffirelli/Gibson one was pretty decent too so I may know nothing). As to the rest, i'll leave it to the mods. Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and so on (I mean, I haven't even been here lately ;).

(Where it is found that Laertes and Hamlet were not really poisoned or at odds but faked the whole thing because they simply wanted to go off and explore the world unfettered. A road/buddy show.)

"Hamlet and Laertes, P.I." - he's a possibly bonkers prince wracked with indecision, he's the son of a humble king's counsel hell-bent on avenging his father's murder, can they overcome their differences to solve crime ? It needs fleshing out i'll admit. Maybe Hamlet could have a really flashy horse or Laertes could live on a boat or something ?

And Chrome did indeed work a treat, good tip BreathesStory, ta ;).
Very cool. Getting more and more excited for all of these Marvel movies with every passing day.

I wasn't too enthused about Thor when the teaser trailer was released, but the recent trailer completely changed my mind. It looked fantastic.

I really liked Branagh's Hamlet. Although I did think it got a little extreme at the end. Didn't Hamlet kill Claudius with a chandelier or something? Or am I completely remembering it wrong?
Ahhh! Spoiler alert! ;-D
Good thing we already know how Hamlet ends; the younger folk might not have had a chance to see Shakespeare yet. Hmm, I need to go see Branagh's Hamlet (I've only seen his Henry V, and that was ages ago).

('Henry V's also pretty good)

Although I did think it got a little extreme at the end. Didn't Hamlet kill Claudius with a chandelier or something? Or am I completely remembering it wrong?

Nah, the chandelier was just to stun 'im ;).

(he stabs him then belts him with a chandelier then poisons him. Guy really wanted to make sure - if they'd had nukes from orbit in the 19th century I bet that's what he'd have gone with. In fairness, the opulence and general operatic bigness is a large - ahem - part of Branagh's take though)
By the by, it works fine in Firefox 4 -- perhaps it's actually a Flash issue? If you go grab Flash 10.2 maybe it will behave.
Always loved Branagh's work, especially in Hamlet (huh, my name's an anagram of it, just noticed that).

Although seriously, if we're talking a Hamlet reboot, to make it cool and with it for the teens, we'd have to do it without using anything Shakespeare created. You know, just keep the main character's name and have him still be a prince, but get rid of the interesting and complex side characters and reduce him to a stereotypical teenage boy in a hopeless romance and hope that the current wildly popular Dane-loving trend slurps it up.
I've liked Branagh ever since Fortunes of War though I think Conspiracy is his finest moment to date. Never thought I would see him direct a superhero blockbuster.
Also loved Branagh's Hamlet, liked the funny, don't want to choose. I am a product of our times. I want it all. ; )


But the best part of a Hamlet reboot is that no one has to pony up for the rights or figure out how to set up a non-profit organization to buy Shakespeare fried chicken.


And I am also getting more and more excited about the Avengers. I just re-watched Ironman 2, and I the Thor and Captain America trailers I've seen have made me very anticipatorily happy.
Re: how Hamlet kills Claudius, from the Hamlet song by Adam MacNaughton as translated from the Scots by Mike Agranoff.

"Then Hamlet's mammy drank the wine, and as her face turned blue,
Hamlet said, "Ooh, I can see the king's a baddie now!"
"Incestuous treacherous damned Dane!" said he to be precise
And made up for hesitating once by killing Claudius twice.
For he stabbed him with the sword, and forced the wine between his lips.
Then he said, "The rest is silence!" as he cashed in all his chips.
They fired a volley over him, which shook the topmost rafter,
And Fortinbras, knee-deep in Danes, lived happily ever after."
His Henry V is one of the greatest movies of all time.
It's got that speech, you could put that in a Cornflakes advert and it'd elevate it (but Branagh does it credit, almost makes me want to be English. Almost ;). Dunno about better per se but better re-watch value than 'Hamlet' IMO, good film.

But the best part of a Hamlet reboot is that no one has to pony up for the rights or figure out how to set up a non-profit organization to buy Shakespeare fried chicken.

Shakespeare Fried Chicken was pfinger lyckinge gude though, verily (apparently his secret ingredient was a handful of iambs).

If you go grab Flash 10.2 maybe it will behave.

I already had 10.2 zeitgeist (according to the Adobe website anyway) BUT I re-installed it and the video now works with Firefox 3.6.13 too. Just some weird glitch it'd seem. Bloody computers, we should all go back to quills I reckon ;).
Dibs on Hamlet: Prince of Darkness.
Fantastic! (I've had a crush on Kenneth Branagh for years.)
Saje - typing in shorthand today - extended version of that is -- if you installed a browser update after the flash update, you may need to install flash again to get the plugin to behave properly. Stupid flash :).
Eee! Awesome.

(And I adore his version of Hamlet)
Stupid flash :).

See, never happens with quills, that's a robust technology right there. Just sayin'.
Loved his Much Ado About Nothing but personally I prefer Oliviers Henry V. When Branagh is giving the famous Crispen Day speech I felt he was "acting". Olivier was rousing his men.
I know this is basically sacrilege but Olivier's version doesn't really do it for me, maybe it's his nigh perfect diction but it's too clean, sounds too much like a recitation. Branagh's may be slightly more actorly but it is rousing (though I accept that's also partly down to Patrick Doyle's excellent score - 6 degrees BTW, he composed the score for 'Thor' too) and besides you could make a case that Henry was performing, not just speaking to his men but actively trying to inspire them to fight.

Context matters of course and these don't have it but for comparison:

Saje, Branagh's Irish, even though he grew up in Reading. I like his directing, but I think his acting's even better - I saw him do Hamlet on stage before he did the film, and he was riveting. He's done some fine films - Much Ado About Nothing is just about my favourite (Emma Thomson and so many others, so it wins despite Keanu.) but all his Shakespeares are fun - as is In the Bleak Midwinter, while he did a totally OTT Gilderoy Lockheart which was perfect for the character.

I really feel Joss ought to be asked to do the sequel. Hamlet the Vampire Slayer in which a young prince reluctantly gives up university and the cheerleading team to slay vampires and demons, including, heartbreakingly, his own uncle. He has to cope with his love for a vampire with a soul, cursed by Dr Dee if she ever has a moment of happiness. His friend Horatio and would-be girlfriend, Ophelia, form a special group of Scooby sidekicks and he is advised by Polonius, their mentor and (little-known) Royal Librarian.

Joss could do it. I have faith in him.
Patrick Doyle has composed the music for most of Kenny's films, I think, so it's not surprising to find he's working on Thor as well.

The Crispin's Day speech in KB's Henry V is in many ways a mirror image of Olivier's - one moves from right to left, the other from left to right; both stand on almost identical carts for the climax. The difference is all in the colour palette and the tone - one was made in 1944 and had at least partly the purpose of emphasising that we could invade France and win against huge odds, while the other was in the decade of the Falklands and reflects a very different attitude to war. Personally, I love both.
Having just now watched Olivier's and Branagh's scenes again, I have to say I prefer Branagh's. I feel Olivier captured a more imposing sense of royalty, but Branagh captured the spirit and emotion of the speech -- King Henry and his men on that day would become a "band of brothers".
Branagh is brilliant. I think I pretty much love everything he does - including Wallander for the BBC (though, I'm probably well behind because it's only just started airing here in Australia). Were it not for him, I'd never have had an interest in Shakespeare, so to hear him praise Joss like that, kinda makes me super excited for The Avengers.
Also thought Branagh was brilliant . . . until Wild Wild West. Never have figured out what possessed him for that one.

But I do think this is high praise for Joss.
It's not the whole St. Crispin's Day speech, but I've always been very fond of the version from Rennaisance Man. (The speech actually begins at around 1:28.) Talk about your verklempt, it gets me every time.
I'd highly recommend "Dead Again", a great little thriller tht KB starred in, with Emma Thompson and Derek Jacobi, and directed.

And one of the major plot twists reminds me of "I Only Have Eyes For You".
I love Branagh's everything! We used to study his work in school(all those years ago on VHS! *shudder*) And he made Shakespeare even more awesome than having those thick west Ireland accents recite it. Gisbon's Hamlet was really uncomfortable, especially when the mommy issues come to a climax(in the sex way)! And in college we looked at his version of Henry's speech as the perfect delivery. I still think his was more rousing in a "I'm one of you, not your leader, but a part of this unit" kind of way.

But I can see how Branagh would be attracted to Thor as his break into superhero films. There's something more epic and classical(gods and all) about his story, more so than your run of the mill tights and cape heroes. So my hat is firmly in the anticiapting great things ring.
Reddygirl, I'd forgotten about Dead Again. Really liked that one. Also, can we really forget his role as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? That was an impressive piece of ham... let.

Oh god. I can't believe I just typed that. I must be stopped.
I'd be flabbergasted if someone could get Branagh to do Buffy's "not exactly the St. Crispin's Day speech" speech. And I second Reddygirl, "Dead Again" was a lot of fun as a Hitchcock homage. (One of Robin William's funniest roles, without him doing any over-the-top behavior.)
I can picture Joss wandering around in a daze saying, "Kenneth Branagh knows who I am." ;)

Also, can we really forget his role as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? That was an impressive piece of ham... let.

I thought that was exactly what the part called for.
Saje, Branagh's Irish, even though he grew up in Reading.

Cool, if I knew that i'd forgotten, ta (though if it was inspired by my "English" comment above I actually meant like Henry, not Branagh. As in "And gentlemen in England now abed..." and so on. Even though he was Welsh, by birth at least ;).

And yeah that's a good point Gill, pretty much every film made during the war served a propaganda purpose to some extent but I didn't realise the link was so explicit with Olivier's 'Henry V', with Churchill apparently actually giving him suggestions on what to cut (stuff that cast Henry and his men in a harsher light). The only fly in the ointment of a perfect fit is that it was released in November 1944 (i.e. 5 months after D-Day) - wonder if it was delayed (maybe they considered 3D conversion ;) ?
J Geilgud said K Branagh was a better director than actor, and I'd go along with that. Having said that, you should see him as Morpheus's Iago. Fantastic performance. Also I've never seen Kenny on stage. Oh wait, yes I have. Peter Quince against Richard Briers' Bottom. And actually it was directed by him too. Still think better director.

And it's not sacrilege to say that Olivier's Hamlet was a bit rubbish. It's freedom of thought. Many have gone before. 'Time Out' for instance. And me. And Russell (not T) Davies who made a whole programme about how overrated Olivier is.

You know what else? R T Davies - hack.

[ edited by ZodKneelsFirst on 2011-02-25 10:35 ]
Yeah but with drama sacrilege it's best to cover your arse, no-one should spend an eternity in drama hell (it's like normal hell except the only fiction available is 'Manimal' on an endless loop).

(though I didn't mention Olivier's 'Hamlet' - which may or may not be rubbish cos i'm not sure i've actually seen it though it feels like I must've - I was only talking about his St Crispin's day speech in Henry V)
No, someone else further up dared to say his Hamlet was less than perfect. Which is an understatement. A lot was made of him making it in B&W too, as if aping Bergman, when in fact he'd just had a row with Natalie Kalmus.

I think the 'traitors' sub plot was removed from his H V on patriotic grounds. Shame cos it was one of Ken's best bits. B Blessed looking butch, and though he didn't actually say the words you could tell he was thinking 'Gordon's Alive!!'.
That's cos, to a first approximation, he's always thinking that. In fact, you could shorten the whole speech to just Brian Blessed shouting "First wave, diiiiivvvveee !". Shakespeare definitely missed a trick there.

No, someone else further up dared to say his Hamlet was less than perfect.

Hmm, can't find it (not that it matters really, your point stands).
Oh wait, no it was you, talking about H V.

But life's too short to read every comment carefully. Best to just wade in there yelling accusations indiscriminately.
Makes sense, by the law of averages you're gonna be right some of the time and it's way easier.
Another vote for Branagh's "Dead Again" as a surprisingly fun film, with Derek Jacobi demonstrating that he is the most charming man alive. Also for his "Much Ado About Nothing" as a great production of my favorite Shakespeare comedy. Have to admit, I wasn't all that interested in seeing "Thor", not being a big fan of the character, or of comic book movies in general, but knowing that Branagh is directing it changes my mind about that.
Saje, your comment on Olivier waiting to do a 3D conversion of H V is not far off....
The film did start out as a "2D" stage play and gradually opened out to the sweeping landscape, "3D" in other words. A fantastic effect IMHO. You start watching a few actors on a tiny stage and a while later you see the charge on horseback across miles of open fields and you suddenly think "Whoa! When did that happen?"
Yeah, it's a nice device, ahead of its time in a way, sort of meta. I'll have to watch Olivier's version again at some point (think I saw it in Film Studies at college, before I even knew meta was a thing. Looking back I wish i'd appreciated that class more but it was for Extended Studies - Wednesday afternoons - and in truth I was only really there because it was too winter for football and i'd already done Law the previous year).

(I also liked 'Dead Again' BTW, decent thriller. Sticks in my mind as one of the first times we saw Robin Williams doing serious)
But as I said earlier, Williams was playing the straight man, but almost everything he said had me laughing out loud.

I'm hooked on Thor, largely due to Walt Simonson's run while I was in grade school. Great mix of myth and modern, comedy, tragedy and action. That kind of writing fits in well with Whedon's style. (One of my favorite gags was the fact that dark elves would be destroyed if they ate mortal food. So in classic noir fashion, the down-on-his-luck P.I. escapes from his captors with the use of a carton of french fries.)
As endorsements go, it doesn't get much better than this. And I loved how Branagh sounded genuinely enthusiastic about Joss, not just politely.

I'm surprised that so many people mentioned Dead Again. I loved that movie, especially the opportunity to see both Branagh and Emma Thompson play two different characters (kinda sorta in a way :_)
Yeah, I was expecting it to be one of those "Whaddya think of Jaaaahs Maaannn?" moments where he has no choice but to be nice, but now I've listened to it he did sound sincere.

And he's worked with Shakespeare!
To be honest, the only Branagh-directed movie I've actually seen is not one of his Shakespeare adaptations but his version of Frankenstein,, anyway, hopefully Thor is better!

It's great that he likes Joss though! It's cool to hear it, since KB is a little more "mainstream."

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