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A Matter of Life and Death


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#21 armadillo

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 05:03 PM

Michael Billington, in response to Hytner 's 'hissy fit' reiterated that he liked it (3 stars). It's only on for two months (it was never planned to extend) so hopefully those who don't like it can cope for that long with it polluting the Olivier.

Funny how, as usual, people are happy to take critics seriously when they agree with them... Nicholas Hytner is no different from the rest of us in that. And BTW, I have seen the film many times and like it a lot but still don't have any problems with an adaptation that subverts it. I don't agree that an adapter (?) owes anything at all to the orginal creators once the copyright fees have been paid. That's the point of selling the rights - you no longer have ownership of them or control over what happens.

I do agree that Conductor 71 was very annoying though I liked Conductor 72 enormously and thought his presence brought something to the show (an awareness of the effects war has on the young men forced to daily commit atrocities in a good cause) that the film lacks. However, as with all art, there is no reason why everyone should agree. If people didn't like the show, that's annoying for them (good thing most people only spent 10 on tickets) but I have never understood the bitterness of people who seem to think that if they don't like something then it's continuance is a personal insult. Were people really planning to see the show more than once? If you were, it's lucky for you the NT has a generous returns policy. If not - then you've wasted an evening - why waste more of your life trying to persuade those who did enjoy it that they really should have hated it?

#22 Cardinal Pirelli

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 05:47 PM

QUOTE(milotindle @ May 16 2007, 05:37 PM) View Post
producing an adaptation for a different medium doesn't remove the obligation to capture the essence of that work.


There are rules you have to stick to when producing a piece of theatre? Nobody ever told me, I've been theatregoing and teaching for many years and they've been hiding this from me!

Or maybe there are no 'rules' and it just exists in your mind?

The National has become a place I go to frequently again thanks to Mr Hytner's championing of less traditional work, I hope his critics with their long history of theatrical achievement (sic) don't put paid to that.

#23 foxa

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 07:11 PM

Gosh.  I'm pretty critical, but I certainly didn't think it was a 'Grade A Turkey.'  I reckoned the 3 out of 6 stars it got in Time Out was about right.  Inventive, clever, two v. good performances, a bit self-indulgent.  Fantastic opening, muddled end, but some resonant images and ideas. I enjoyed it a bit more than I did 'The Rose Tattoo.'

#24 milotindle

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 01:08 AM

QUOTE(Cardinal Pirelli @ May 16 2007, 06:47 PM) View Post
There are rules you have to stick to when producing a piece of theatre?


The word "rules" is your own. Some techniques are generally acknowledged as better than others: boring, confusing and insulting your audience or drowning your actors' vioces in overamplified music aren't often thought of as ways to a successful production.  There's very little to celebrate in adapting a work with acknowledged classic status if you either don't understand what made the original great or can't transmit it into your version.  The feeling of every person I know who has seen this production (at least a dozen so far) is that it squanders most of the opportunities offered by its copious use of the source material, introduces a lot that just doesn't work in theatrical terms and finally falls far short of what they had hoped.  One particularly good analogy I've heard is that the show resembles the Chapman Brothers' jejune scribblings on works by Goya; and as an adaptation, I think it reaches just about that level of sophistication.

#25 Cardinal Pirelli

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 11:04 AM

QUOTE(milotindle @ May 17 2007, 02:08 AM) View Post
Some techniques are generally acknowledged as better than others

snip


No they're not, I've been involved and taught the thing for many years and would never make such a crass comment. The outcomes of techniques are different to techniques themselves. I have a personal animus against Ibsen and Shaw for example, or Peter Hall and Trevor Nunn and, frankly, their productions often bore and insult me. Does that mean that I should dismiss their style and theatrical techniques? No, of course I shouldn't.

#26 milotindle

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 09:13 PM

QUOTE(Cardinal Pirelli @ May 17 2007, 12:04 PM) View Post
No they're not, I've been involved and taught the thing for many years and would never make such a crass comment. The outcomes of techniques are different to techniques themselves. I have a personal animus against Ibsen and Shaw for example, or Peter Hall and Trevor Nunn and, frankly, their productions often bore and insult me. Does that mean that I should dismiss their style and theatrical techniques? No, of course I shouldn't.


Dear, oh dear!  Well, I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised at a Cardinal given to ex cathedra pronouncements.  It's hard not to feel sorry for his students, though.  This "thing" he taught them was presumably not English; but let's hope all the same they didn't pick up his habit of writing "different to" when he means "different from".

Seriously, though: the Cardinal's perfectly entitled to enjoy poor stagecraft and unintelligent directing. As, indeed, am I to find fault with them.  Others have pointed out that the show can be seen for only ten of your Earth pounds, courtesy of Travelex; so if you can be bothered, you might as well go along and see for yourself what you can find in this appalling farrago / unjustly reviled masterwork.  Mind you, Play.com has the DVD of the film for only 3.99, and nobody's arguing that's anything but a classic. At least, I hope not.



#27 Cardinal Pirelli

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 10:16 PM

QUOTE(milotindle @ May 17 2007, 10:13 PM) View Post
Dear, oh dear!  Well, I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised at a Cardinal given to ex cathedra pronouncements.  It's hard not to feel sorry for his students, though.  This "thing" he taught them was presumably not English; but let's hope all the same they didn't pick up his habit of writing "different to" when he means "different from".

Seriously, though: the Cardinal's perfectly entitled to enjoy poor stagecraft and unintelligent directing. As, indeed, am I to find fault with them.  Others have pointed out that the show can be seen for only ten of your Earth pounds, courtesy of Travelex; so if you can be bothered, you might as well go along and see for yourself what you can find in this appalling farrago / unjustly reviled masterwork.  Mind you, Play.com has the DVD of the film for only 3.99, and nobody's arguing that's anything but a classic. At least, I hope not.



"Poor stagecraft and unintelligent directing"? If that's your view then you really haven't got a clue about those things, you can question the choices made but not the stagecraft or intelligence behind those choices, even the critics can see that one.

I don't teach English by the way, although my English qualifications are impeccable and at the highest level. It would appear that you like your language as dead and buried as your theatre however. Actually your poor attempt at being the language police tells me all I need to know about where you are coming from in other areas, thanks for making your prejudices so clear.

Collins' guide to prepositions says that 'from', 'than' and 'to' are all acceptable although I wouldn't use 'than' myself. As this link from Fowler's 'The King's English' shows, they were having that particular argument in 1908, shouldn't you have moved on by now? http://www.bartleby.com/116/217.html

Americans are the ones who never use 'different to', are you American?

#28 Panotrope

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 10:07 AM

  Easy, feller! As a North American, I find we are often better taught about the English language than you people -- and yes, I do put "different from". As I see it, one thing can't "differ to" something else.

Anyhow, after reading this thread, I've felt driven to register because I saw AMOLAD a few days back and like the poster who started the dsicussion, I was very disappointed. Unlike him (her?), I didn't know the movie, so maybe my opinion is less influenced by irritation at favorite passages missed out and changed. To me it was a very unsatisfying narrative which after the opening -- which after renting the DVD from lovefilm I have now found is lifted from the original almost word for word, but clumsily staged -- I found difficult to follow. There was no difference between heaven and earth, reality and fantasy, humor and seriousness, and there were long stretches where the dramatic tension just disappeared. What made me specially lose faith was that much of the action was there for effect and didn't contribute to the atmosphere or the message of the show. While some of the music would have been good in another context, the onstage band here was obstrusive, the numbers interrupted the flow of the piece and the choreography was lousy - like a high school production of Copacabana. The older actor playing the doctor tried very hard, the heroine was touching and I enjoyed the hero's pal from the bombing mission giving the eye to the chief angel, the rest of the cast were swamped by the huge stage (the surgeon/judge made no impression at all) and the weird acoustic, amplification on and off at random. Also, and it's a practical point, over two hours is too long to go without a break: two people made their way right down our row and didn't come back.

By the way I have read as many of the reviewers as I can and I think that milotindle's recommendation is right along with De Jongh (sp?) in the Evening Standard.


#29 Alexandra

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 10:43 AM

Lol...Cardinal, give it up..."different to" is just wrong. But on an internet discussion forum, who gives a ***; milotindle is just a rude pedant.

#30 Cardinal Pirelli

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 01:08 PM

QUOTE(Alexandra @ May 18 2007, 11:43 AM) View Post
Lol...Cardinal, give it up..."different to" is just wrong. But on an internet discussion forum, who gives a ***; milotindle is just a rude pedant.


I can understand what you're saying but it is important because linguistic pedants who claim that there is an absolute right and wrong, without acknowledging the shifting nature of language based on usage, are often those whose views on theatre are similarly stuck.

'Different to' is apparently used about 20% of the time in the UK and 'different from' about 80%, both are correct as regards modern day usage. Such 'rules' do become untenable according to usage, the one that annoys me is less/fewer, but the shift is on and it's pointless trying to stop the unstoppable. I presume that, in days past, there were those who complained that 'thee' was disappearing because of that interloper 'you'!




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