A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004 :::
The semester is coming to a close, and it is time for blogging, because there is time to blog.

If someone sent you a copy of THE LITANY, would you please let me know by dropping me a quick line at amindthatsuits@yahoo.com ? It would help to understand how this is spreading. If you have received only part of it, you can find the entire LITANY ON THE GWOT below.

For those looking for more of what A MIND THAT SUITS is all about, please see the archive for August 10, 2003, where there is a good selection of previous stuff.

And now, to today:

In this "fortnight's" National Review, the invaluable, if frequently wrong-headed, Victor Davis Hanson offers a brilliant analysis of Oliver Stone's spectacularly wrong-headed take on Alexander.

The Great, that is.

Mr. Stone apparently sacrifices what is truly one of the most interesting stories in history--interesting in the sense of "psychopathic"--to score modern points, including ones about Alexander's sexuality. Mr. Stone apparently makes a great deal of The Great Mass Murderer's passion for at least one young man, making him look "gay,"when, as Prof. Hanson points out, society back then was tolerant of military leaders who grew tired of isolation from women and conscripted younger subordinates to...well, let's just say that the older guy didn't do anything that wasn't "masculine." The younger guy wasn't expected to do much either, except assume a position that wasn't, er, "masculine." The modern concept of "gay" hardly, er, entered into it. More like prison, as Prof. Hanson points out. Effeminate men, or men who went after guys their own age, were held in contempt.

A certain pudgy, balding English teacher, who was an undergraduate in Classics when Prof. Hanson was a grad student at the same red-tile-roofed university on the West Coast (though their paths rarely, if ever, crossed) found fault with one comment, directed, apparently, at the brilliant if irrepresible Colin Farrel.

He therefore wrote:

I quibble, however, with your description of "ludicrous Irish-brogue" in the movie. Is Colin Farrel not Irish? That is no more ludicrous than a modern British actor declaiming Shakespeare in a modern British (meaning English) accent--or, far worse, an American actor declaiming Shakespeare in a modern "British" (meaning English) accent. Shakespeare did not have (and could not have had) an Oxbridge accent, and using one muffles the scansion as much as an American one does. And yet, unless he is musical, an actor must use the accent God gave him. (God decided where he was born, after all.)

People tend to assume that "classical" themes must be declaimed in "British" (meaning English) accents, but they do not need to be at all. The ideal, as one actor said, is Sean Connery: no one is bothered that he always sounds Scots, because he is. Young Mr. Farrel is a brilliant actor, but he may not have yet acquired the gravitas carried by Mr. Connery, and he probably needs that to pull that off with an Irish accent. Not yet, anyway. If what he describes as his "general laddishness"--meaning alcohol and women--does not derail him, he will acquire it, and then, as people look back, the only criticism of his role in Alexander will be that he was in a boring, pretentious Oliver Stone movie, not that he was Irish.

I would point out that the reason Mr. Connery needs --and Mr. Farrel needs to acquire-- all that gravitas is that a Gaelic accent is taken as comic, for very unpleasant historical reasons. Mr. Farrel, by the way, does appear to be musical, as his American accent in the magnificent Minority Report was flawless. But you may understand why an Irish actor would not wish to use his gifts to mimic a "British" accent.

As I recall, by the way, the original meaning of British was in fact English, and it was press baron Lord Beveredge (correction, Lord Beaverton)--a Canadian--who pressed for it to mean "British," if that makes sense.

BEAVERBROOK--the guy's name was Beaverbrook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ah, that memory and age thing.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 3:52 PM



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