Technicolor Titus

Struck by Anthony Hopkin's blue face on the DVD cover at Blockbuster, I rented Titus, Julie Taymor's film excursion into Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. I'm glad that I'd set aside some time for it. It's a bizarre and absorbing experience.

Shakespeare has been updated before. Brannaugh's Hamlet, for instance. I think there's an Edwardian Midsummer Night's Dream. But Taymor's Titus transmogrifies across multiple periods and resonates with the story’s surrealistic pastiche. It won the 2005 Oscar for costumes.

The play is a Shakespeare potboiler, plenty violent, and the playwright doesn't wink at it. There are consequences. The violence is scarring, accumulative, and like a collapsed star draws everything into its annihilating gravity. As William H. Macy said, in a criticism of modern operatic film violence... “when you get beat up in real life, you stay beat up a long time.” You don't jump into your Ferrari after a hit of scotch and get back in the hunt.

But all next day, I was thinking in Elizabethan English. "Now I must henceforth hie me to yonder market and there to procure, um, some chips and salsa and a lottery ticket... and thence homeward hungry pilgrim to hearth and... House, and Dancing With The Stars..."