I have seen a lot of live theater in my life. Last year alone I saw over 50 productions. Clearly, this is an art form that speaks to me. Just in case I wasn’t sure about that, I got proof positive over the weekend. On Saturday I went to a highly anticipated and much lauded new contemporary art museum, on Sunday I saw the multi Oscar nominated, “The Revenant,” and on Monday night I saw a recording of the live broadcast of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s production of “A Winter’s Tale.” Anybody want to guess which one was my favorite? No, not the modern art. Modern art is weird.
That leaves the movie and the play. Mind you, “Winter’s Tale” is one of Shakespeare’s problem plays. It’s technically a comedy as it ends in marriage, but you have to wait until the second act (In the viewing convention of two acts, not Shakespeare’s second act) to find some levity and even then it’s sparse. Like I said, it’s a problem play and not one of my favorites. Truth be told, with the exception of the best stage direction ever – Exit pursued by bear – I really don’t even like it that much. It gets ranked somewhere down around “Henry VIII.” That being said, I LOVED this production! It wasn’t perfect, no production is, but I left the theater after three and a half hours of Shakespeare energized and inspired. Even the scene changes were beautiful capitalizing on silhouetted choreography. Every aspect of this production had been given thorough attention and it paid off in dividends. It was a fantastic piece of work that still worked through the translation of a camera. Wonderfully done!
“The Revenant,” on the other hand, is another story. The majority of the cinematography was gorgeous and Leonardo DiCaprio certainly delivered a stellar performance. However, I’m pretty sure that my roommate’s favorite part was listening to my rant during the car ride home about how and why I hated it. SPOILER ALERT START Even if you are willing to suspend disbelief and buy that this guy is attacked by a pissed off mother bear – twice! – that he didn’t bleed out, that none of his wounds festered with infection and became gangrenous in the oh-so-clean environment he was in, he would not have survived how long he spent in that river. There was ice on the deeper, slower running parts which means that water’s temperature was in the 40s maybe 50s if we are suspending our disbelief. A man, who is already horribly debilitated from TWO bear attacks, and is fully submerged in water that frigid never would have made it out. Hypothermia would have kicked in, and he would have lost control on his limbs making it harder than hell to swim to shore, and damn near impossible to build and light a fire. Movie is over, our main character is now a popsicle!
Even if you are willing to suspend disbelief for that, later he falls off a god-damned cliff, into a massive tree and splats on the ground. Not only, does he not have any additional scratches on him, but he is fully capable of pulling a Luke Skywalker and climbing inside of his Tauntaun, er horse which is dead because IT FELL OFF A CLIFF. What the actual fuck? Apparently being attacked by the mother fucking bear imbued him with some sort of magical, invincibility. Somebody tag me, I’m out. It was about this time that I took a leisurely restroom break. I’m assuming that while I was gone he was set on fire, shot and beheaded before finally arriving back at the fort. SPOILER ALERT END
Needless to say, I did not feel energized or inspired after the movie. I felt annoyed. Now true, that movie was clearly not my cup of tea, but in all honesty, while I can think of a few movies that left me energized, I can’t think of any that left me inspired in the same way that “Winter’s Tale” did. And that was from a script that I don’t like. I don’t know what the point of all of this is, I just find it interesting. Also, what was up with the bear theme?