Celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday and Death Day: Twelfth Night

Happy Birthday Shakespeare :)

Twelfth Night was really the type of the play that you would read in Year 8 or Year 9 and it goes in the same “high-school category” of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Or the grammar schools will just spit back an intricate novella like Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”. Anyways, I will be focusing on the hidden worth of Trevor Nunn’s film Twelfth Night.

The front cover of Twelfth Night when it first came out in 1996. It competes well with other creations of the front cover.

We really did not appreciate Shakespeare recently and that’s being honest. No one in the world would willingly pick up a play and expect to enjoy the whole adventure. Shakespeare rather amusing and comedic plays are spread to the world through their use of films, of which is quite a successful modern re-production of the film. I think how the English teachers always are saying to you when reading your novels, or plays or even podcasts, they are always rambling on about “It’s always best to read the novel first before you jump to films”. Truly, it’s quite logical, English teachers are humans after all. Reading a novel helps stimulate your own imagination and weave your own features of the characters in Twelfth Night. But unfortunately, the modern times was different and reclused, and all the Shakespeare-fans knew that to share their love of interest they had to do so through films, gaudy films, in which they eat dinner in front of a screen with fuzzy movies — just like Matilda.

But really I think Shakespeare had his limitations in his plays. And today, I think Twelfth Night is an exception to the doctrine as stated above. Let’s start out simple. You are first told to read the play, but you magically understand it because — yea, the Shakespeare English books have those cute little definitions to “thy, thou etc.” But when you watch the movie, we fairly understand the plot line of the film. Yet what is ironic Trevor Nunn believes that the audience will seemingly understand the Old English which Shakespeare employs. So it’s butter on both sides of the toast. In novels, it is understandable, imagery contributes to its use of metalanguage and adding interest to the audience. But for once I think plays — or well Shakespeare plays lack that description. Simply having a character’s name and then what they say and once in a while a character movement does not add very interest.

I know, I know, plays are backbones, it is just a script, but really it is up to the director or producer to decided how it is played out and it really is quite perhaps for the first time quite limiting as a play! Unless your duh — have a Shakespeare English book with pictures of the play productions. I’m not saying that plays are bad, don’t read them, I’m just saying their up to much more interpretation when in different “mediums” of expressions, very much how this writing is on Medium. And I did my homework before writing this Shakespeare piece. Let’s take Twelfth Night, my favourite, very funny and entertaining.

One line from Sir Toby, famous scolding to Malvolio is: “Sneck up!”

Now you would really be expecting Sir Toby in the play to be screaming and shouting saying this line. But sometimes Trevor Nunn and directors like to play the twist — look at this screenshot.

Good Sir Toby, with the wine and harp.

Well, well, well ,well, how the turntables ….. Sir Toby is now lounging with the his wonderful wine and harp on his immediate left. He just whispers “Sneck Up” and Malvolio who somehow has godly hearing just manages to wisp it through. It’s ironic, and I think that when we have films, yes let’s look at it raw with themes, but the way we produce and act out things like this have a more monumental impact … after all, it’s god damn metalanguage English teachers!

But I also mentioned at the start why this production was one of the most successful Shakespeare production. First it’s always best to find the bingo answer by looking through the cast list. Alright the first time that spotted my eye when pouring over this movie was Helena Bonham Carter acting as Olivia. It was impressive to see the true happy, frolicking side of Bonham Carter in this film. Most of the time now days Helena is the big b****, with the guns up and everything, mascara smudged and sometimes even smoking in some films — namely Fight Club.

The dark, gothic, sadistic Carter that we all loved.

After all, “youth’s a stuff will not endure” so it’s no surprise that after the jolly films of Bonham Carter in Twelfth Night came all the scary and spooky. An example? Dark Shadows.

Okay, but she is not the only one that really took away the stage. I think the next most influential character in the film that comes next in Twelfth is Sir Ben Kingsley, playing Feste. As the fool of the house, he really has his chance to express his comedic side, which he really has been specializing and is the best in. When he played the Jungle Book, Kingsley said in an interview that his acting side was really limited from the aspect that he wasn’t actually in the film, and he really enjoyed taking on a new experience as Feste in the film, despite it being his early films. After all most main casts in this film were really preliminary but dazzling actors.

So I guess by now you can conclude that everyone enjoyed Shakespeare — because Shakespeare wasn’t there and the actors that everyone favoured was there. I guess the real downside is that if you were to read the play again then every time you read the character you would most likely think of the movie character.

Now to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday — selfie:



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Lowell Bassi

Lowell Bassi

My stories aspire to change the way we perceive literature, from a scary forest into something that we can all appreciate through humour and insight.