I am really hungover to-day from last night's margarita. I really must forswear alcohol and sugar combos. How much happier would I have been with a simple scotch. Anyway, I was appropriately inebriated when I watched this;
I've watched both parts of Shakespeare's Henry IV this past week--BBC productions from 1979, both featuring Anthony Quayle as Falstaff, turning in a performance that vastly outshines Jon Finch's over the top, weepy performance as the King. It seemed to be a contrast between the older Quayle's more complex style of acting--savouring subtleties that one can inject in language--and a newer style of acting that demands a dial always turned to eleven, rendering King Henry unintentionally comical.
I read about John Fastolf, upon whom Falstaff was loosely based, when I was doing research for Venia's Travels. Shakespeare obviously took some liberties, on the face of it making Falstaff a broader character, yet incredibly exactly by making Falstaff such a consistent scoundrel he creates a character with a great deal of depth. It becomes a beautiful depiction of an old man whose personal philosophy, and the priorities dictated by that philosophy to promote his survival, is firmly entrenched so that asking him to change seems cruel, and one sort of roots for him. Though I think Quayle's sensitive performance emphasises this interpretation quite a bit--it nevertheless seems to be the appropriate way to play it, as I can't imagine Falstaff not being played to the crowd in Shakespeare's time. How could the groundlings do anything but love the man holding forth on the virtues of alcohol?
The story of the title character is less interesting, but his lines to his son and heir before he died about the burden of being a king who won the crown by deposing the previous king kind of struck me--I was sort of reminded of docbrite's entry recently about being a transgender meeting with the varying degrees of acceptance by people.
I met this Crowne: and I my selfe know well
How troublesome it sate vpon my head.
To thee, it shall descend with better Quiet,
Better Opinion, better Confirmation:
For all the soyle of the Atchieuement goes
With me, into the Earth. It seem'd in mee,
But as an Honour snatch'd with boyst'rous hand,
And I had many liuing, to vpbraide
My gaine of it, by their Assistances,
Which dayly grew to Quarrell, and to Blood-shed,
Wounding supposed Peace.
All these bold Feares,
Thou seest (with perill) I haue answered:
For all my Reigne, hath beene but as a Scene
Acting that argument. And now my death
Changes the Moode: For what in me, was purchas'd,
Falles vpon thee, in a more Fayrer sort.
It reminds me of Howard Stern talking about watching Chaz Bono's new reality show and how he marvels at the time and attention Chaz seems to give things like shaving and how masculine he looks in general. I think this is something that confounds a lot of cisgender people, who can't imagine being so focused on their own gender. Particularly for guys, who typically don't put so much thought into being guys. Though prominent examples of vain men like Anthony Weiner seem to contradict this impression. But like King Henry says, to a transgender I think it must seem like a continuous scene, acting the argument. I mean, Henry is King, but he constantly feels the existence of the question. I suppose it's a state of mind anyone can understand who's had reason to become acquainted with how really frail everything potentially is.