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I saw TITUS on Saturday with my wife Beth and three people who worked on GARGOYLES.
1. Fred Schaefer, who was a development associate who helped develop the show. (I think it's safe to say that Talon was sort of Fred's idea in a very early pre-Derek form. We called the character Catscan then.) Fred is currently a producer/executive/story editor at Porchlight Entertainment.
2. Monique Beatty was my assistant during the Gargoyles years. She did a lot of research for me. She's now a producer at Kinofilms.
3. Tuppence Macintyre is an old friend of mine. She also did a lot of Scotish research for Gargoyles, just as a personal favor and because it interested her. She's a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles.
Anyway, the five of us went to see TITUS in Santa Monica. The film is based on one of Shakespeare's early tragedies, TITUS ANDRONICUS. It was adapted and directed by Julie Taymor, who adapted and directed THE LION KING for the Broadway stage. So it's not surprise that the film is visually stunning. Monique didn't like the anachronistic style of the film (depicting chariots and motorcycles side-by-side for example), but it's not the first time I've seen that kind of interpretation, so it didn't bother me.
And the acting is fantastic. Anthony Hopkins (who I've loved forever -- does anyone remember the movie MAGIC?) plays Titus. He's brilliant. His lament to the stones is heartbreaking. Jessica Lange is good as "Tamara, Queen of the Goths" (now tell me that isn't a Gargoyles' character in the making). And Alan Cumming (who voiced John Castaway in "The Journey") is a nice, twisted villain as Saturninus, the Roman Emperor. But the revelation is Harry Lennix as Aaron the Moor. Amazing.
The story of Titus is not for the squeemish or for children. It's a real pot-boiler. Something just this side of a horror movie with a hard R rating for violence and nudity, though thankfully a minimum of on-screen gore.
The play was a big hit for Shakespeare in his day. But it's been dismissed as a critical flop. And I can see why. I've read it a couple times and thought it awful. Which coming from a bardolitor like myself is pretty harsh. It seemed like none of the characters were sympathetic or interesting.
But I'd never seen it performed, so I was looking forward to the movie. As usual, Shakespeare plays tens times better than he reads. In the movie, I had -- at moments -- plenty of sympathy for nearly all the characters. And the wonderful thing is that my sympathies are constantly shifting. No one is without sin. All share the blame except for Aaron's son. And Aaron himself is amazing.
Although, I can't help agreeing that Shakespeare wrote TITUS at least in part as parody of the tragic genre -- the way SCREAM was designed to be both parody and exemplar of the horror film -- I can also see flashes of KING LEAR, HAMLET and CORIOLANUS in Titus' character.
But Aaron prefigures Othello, Iago, Edmund and Shylock at least. He's a remarkably progressive character for the time. A villain, who is the only character to succeed in preserving a sliver of innocence within the world of the play.
Anyway, I really enjoyed it. And I recommend it to any Gargoyle Fan over the age of 17.