Vissez votre courage à l’endroit de collage et nous ne manquerons pas.

When I first heard that Marion Cotillard would replace Natalie Portman as Lady MacBeth in the upcoming Scottish movie, I was disappointed. I don’t really know anything about Ms. Cotillard, and I don’t really care all that much about acting ability(*) – I just think that Natalie Portman’s presence tends to bring a very large young adult male following into the theatres, and I thought Macbeth would be a good place to do that.

Apparently Ms. Cotillard is a big fan of Shakespeare already, and dreamed of playing Lady M — just not in the original text.
“Horrors!” you say, “What’s she want to do, a modern language adaptation?  Sacrilege!”
That’s an angle I’ve never imagined. English is not your native language, and yet you still grow up with a love of Shakespeare so strong that you dream of playing his greatest characters.  In *your* native tongue, rather than his. As if that’s how they were intended to be played (insert obligatory “heard them in the original Klingon” reference here).  How is that different from reading just a plain old modern translation?  After all, either you’re reading Shakespeare (or what you’ve always come to think of as Shakespeare), or you’re not.  So isn’t the “not” version always just a shallow copy? Does that mean that Ms. Cotillard will be disappointed in the English version of the works?

3 thoughts on “Vissez votre courage à l’endroit de collage et nous ne manquerons pas.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Couldn't one say the same about any ancient drama in Greel or Latin? Or, for that matter, any play by Chekov or Ibsen? Following this line of thought, we should question any English-speaking actor who would prefer to perform in their native language than in Russian or Norwegian.

  2. " I don't really know anything about Ms. Cotillard, and I don't really care all that much about acting ability(*)"

    Even if the Shakespeare stinks? All about image? Not the best first–or even second or fifth or twentieth–exposure to Shakespeare. From personal experience, I can tell you that more are turned off to Shakespeare by bad performances by people who don't know what they're doing, than there are those prompted by singular idol worship to take him up.

    You opined earlier about performance versus reading. The whole point of performance being "better" is its ability influence the reading because the verse–well spoken–lends clarity to what is on the page. If it sucks, it has a negative impact.

  3. I realize I put a (*) there with the intent to footnote that comment, and then never did. Of course I don't want Pauly Shore or Paris Hilton taking a shot at Shakespeare. Acting ability certainly counts. What I meant was that if we led with nothing but "I don't think she'd be good at Shakespeare therefore I won't give the movie a chance" that would not be a fair evaluation. I say this because when the original announcement came out that she was replacing Natalie Portman, many people applauded the decision citing their hatred of Ms. Portman's acting ability.

    I don't think or expect that either of them stink. But I'll bet that when someone asks you who's in the movie and you say, "Marion Cotillard" you're going to get a lot more "Who?" than you would if you said Natalie Portman. And when people recognize who is in the movie, they tend to be more likely to go see it.

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