Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Director to Adapt Each of Shakespeare's Plays #19: THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR directed by The Coen Brothers

The Plot:

Sir John Falstaff is a fat, slovenly undesirable scoundrel. Nonetheless, he has concocted a scheme in which he will attempt to seduce two married women simultaneously in order to get at their husbands cash. With an airtight plan like that, what could possibly go wrong? Little does Falstaff know that the two wives are comparing notes and decide to turn the tables on their would-be wooer. Zany hijinks follow.

Why the Coens?

The Merry Wives of Windsor is an unusual entry in the Shakespearean canon in that it is essentially a spin-off. The story goes that Queen Elizabeth liked the character of Falstaff so much in Henry IV that she requested another play centered specifically on him. Though it certainly does not rank amongst Shakespeare’s more philosophically deep works, it is a fairly effective farce. I knew that I wanted to include the Coens at some point on this list and this seems like the right place to do so. Much of the success of Merry Wives depends upon rich comedic characterizations. Like many Coen Brothers films, Merry Wives is loaded with eccentrics, including a Welsh clergyman and a French doctor who both have accents so thick that they can barely be understood be anyone else. As for Falstaff himself, he may very well be the original Duderino, completely unaware of what effect his appearance and demeanor have on those who encounter him. It may be a slight play in comparison to some of Shakespeare’s other works, but I imagine that if anybody could get maximum effect from the colorful characters and silly plot, it would be the Coens.

Coen Brothers films I have seen:

1. Raising Arizona ****
2. Fargo ****
3. The Man Who Wasn't There ****
4. Miller's Crossing ***1/2
5. The Big Lebowski ***1/2
6. Blood Simple ***1/2
7. The Hudsucker Proxy ***1/2
8. O Brother, Where Art Thou? ***1/2
9. Barton Fink ***1/2
10. Intolerable Cruelty ***
11. The Ladykillers **1/2


Post a Comment

<< Home