Former Shows & Episodes

Word Patriots

Mark Seinfelt

Word Patriots – Seinfelt and Shakespeare Filmography

Today, my father Dr. Frederick William Seinfelt again joins me on Word Patriots. We will be discussing Shakespeare on film and which cinematic versions of the plays speak most to us and why. We talk about the first three American sound films of Shakespeare: the 1929 Pickford Corporation’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” Max Reinhardt’s “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” and the 1936 Irving Thalberg produced and George Cukor directed “Romeo and Juliet.” Then we examine the strengths and shortcomings of Laurence Olivier’s and Orson Welles’ various cinematic versions of Shakespeare, John Gielgud’s many Shakespearean performances including his starring roles in two versions of “Julius Caesar,” and why most critics consider Franco Zeffirelli’s film of “Romeo and Juliet” to be the definitive cinematic version. We also examine Roman Polanski’s controversial 1971 “Macbeth.” Some feel Polanski imposed his own vision of evil and his personal despair in the face of existence upon “Macbeth” and argue, as does Charles Shattuck, that it “profits nothing to reduce Shakespeare’s tragedy to Grand Guignol, or Dachau, or the Manson murders,” but my father defends Polanski’s vision. At one point in the discussion, despite his prodigious memory, my father, who will be celebrating his eightieth birthday in August, conflates the characters of Banquo and Macduff. No doubt one reason Polanski feels Macbeth to be guilty of something akin to the crime of genocide is because the Scottish chieftain attempts to wipe out the progeny of both men. Macbeth succeeds in killing Macduff’s children. Banquo, of course, accompanies Macbeth when he meets the three witches. After first prophesying that Macbeth will become king, the witches tell Banquo that, while he will not be king himself, his descendants will rise to the crown. Macbeth in his lust for power sees Banquo as a threat and orders both Banquo and Banquo’s son Fleance murdered. Fleance, however, escapes. To conclude the program, my father recalls the high school teachers who first introduced him to Shakespeare and reads favorite passages from “The Merchant of Venice” and “Macbeth.”