Al Pacino spent four years making this film, the purpose of which is to share his feelings about Shakespeare, and to make one of the Bard’s most difficult plays accessible to a modern audience.
And what are Pacino’s feelings about Shakespeare? He loves him, he’s passionate about him, because the plays are all about human emotions, which are the same no matter the time or place. Pacino believes the legacy of Shakespeare’s plays belongs to actors, who must find the feelings in the words of their characters and transmit them to the audience.
And so he assembles a troupe of American actors to discuss and parse and act out scenes from Richard III. He talks about the relationships among the characters–the Yorks, the Lancasters, the brothers and nephews and wives who all have their own ideas about who should wear the crown. He talks to British actors like Derek Jacobi and Vanessa Redgrave and Kenneth Branagh about whether Americans can do justice to Shakespeare, whether we have perhaps become estranged from the language, or lack the knowledge of British history. He does man-in-the-street interviews to find out whether people think Shakespeare is relevant to them, and why or why not. He explores various settings, and films scenes from the play, and the entire film becomes an experiment in Shakespeare.
Sometimes described as “video Cliff notes,” this film can reawaken a passion for Shakespeare, or introduce the reluctant student to his timeless revelations about the human condition.
For more Shakespeare films and adaptations, click here.
It’s Awards Season, culminating in the big Academy Awards ceremony on February 28th.
In keeping with the season, we at the Portland Public Library have put on our finest clothes, walked the orange carpet, and selected a few of our own favorites to receive the following awards:
Presenter: Elizabeth H
Category: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR BEST VOICE
Winner: This award is presented posthumously to Alan Rickman. RIP
Category: BEST MOVIE ABOUT THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE
Winner: The Madness of King George
This movie won three BAFTA awards (the British equivalent of the Oscars) including Best Picture and Best Actor (Nigel Hawthorne as King George.) Videoport owned this as part of their collection, and soon it will be circulating at the Library.
Category: BEST THING IN A BOX
Winner: “My prestigious award for “Best Thing In a Box” is from the 2008 movie Se7en, with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Pitt plays Detective Mills, a brash, passionate crimesolver who is roped into working on a serial killer case with weeks-from-retirement Detective Somerset, played by Freeman. Someone is killing people who have committed the Seven Deadly Sins, and is always one step ahead of Mills and Somerset as they follow his clues to an ultimate, gut-wrenching showdown. The brilliant movie is full of twists and turns and an intensity that has been lost on more modern thrillers, and comes to a heart-stopping climax when Mills, near the end of his sanity, screams to Somerset “What’s in the box?!” that the killer had delivered right to their feet. And what is in the box? Why, the winner of my award.”
“The international film critics got it right when they began to award The Palm Dog Award during the Cannes Film Festival. Begun in 2001, this award goes to the best performance by a canine (live or animated.) Look at all of the great performances that came before that date!”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A CANINE (live): Nikki in Nikki, Wild Dog of the North
As a Teen Librarian, I have heard many an adult dismiss works of young adult fiction without having read them. My hackles go up, my feathers get ruffled - how can you criticize something you haven’t taken the time to experience? So, it is with just a tiny bit of shame that I say to you that I have never and will never watch the movie City of Angles starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan BECAUSE IT SHOULD NOT EXIST. There should be a law about remaking films this good. You know you agree with me.
I have an undergraduate degree in German (long story). In 2001, I was going to school in Berlin, and there was a movie theater in the center of the city that played Wings of Desire on a continuous loop throughout the day. This made total sense since the film was shot in Berlin just a few short years before the Wall came down, and captures a divided city in flux and decay. What an amazing experience it was for me to (1) skip school and sit alone in a dark theater watching this masterpiece, and (2) then be able to walk through the historic and changed city I saw so beautifully captured on film.
One of my favorite scenes shows an elderly gentlemen, Homer, wandering through a deserted field on the site of Potsdamer Platz near the Brandenburg Gate. In 2001, Potsdamer Platz was once again a thriving, modern business and shopping center. In the film, it is an abandoned wasteland around the Wall. Through the medium of his guardian angel, we hear and see Homer’s stream-of-conscious thoughts and memories of this place. This and many other scenes in the film will leave you hollow and aching with the solitude of the human experience.
Bonus awards: as if this film isn’t excellent enough in it’s own right, Wings of Desire wins extra credit for featuring the following: Colombo (Peter Falk), Nick Cave (performing! hot!), a traveling French circus, and the amazing interiors of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (State Library), where every reader is watched over by invisible angels.
“The car was a first in its stylishness and form, despite being dropped off a cliff.While these types of car mash-ups were happening across the globe, no movie has done it in a way with such class and style. Sadly the car truly was one of kind and was actually destroyed during filming.This car paved the way for all other car mash-ups including the whole fleet of mash-up cars in Mad Max: Fury Road, all of which had multiple clones as the cars kept getting destroyed during that movie’s filming.”
Category: BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MOVIE THAT OTHERWISE WOULDN’T BE WORTH WATCHING
Paul Greengrass directed this account of the ill-fated flight of United 93, using people who were actually working at the National Air Traffic Control Center to reenact events as they happened. On the plane, there are no recognizable stars to root for, just ordinary-looking people who reenact events as best we can reconstruct them. What makes the film so compelling and heartbreaking is that we in the audience know how it will end, and the passengers don’t.
On Tuesday, February 23rd, the Physicians for Social Responsibility Maine Chapter (PSR Maine) will be here to talk about their report, Death by Degrees: The health crisis of climate change in Maine. PSR Maine believes we now must do the work to slow or halt climate change and protect the health of all Mainers regardless of where they live. The health effects of climate change are an important and often overlooked aspect global warming. This presentation will look at what we are already experiencing and what we can expect in Maine. The talk is enlightening and leaves participants empowered to take action on climate change to help protect their family’s health.
Please check out these resources if you are interested in further information about the effects of climate change on human health:
Enviro-Health Links – Climate Change and Human Health: Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) maintains a comprehensive web site that provides access to resources produced by it and by other government agencies and organizations. This web site includes links to databases, bibliographies, tutorials, and other scientific and consumer-oriented resources.
The Metadata Access Tool for Climate and Health (MATCH): a publicly accessible, online tool for researchers that offers centralized access to thousands of government-held datasets related to health, the environment, and climate-science. MATCH is one of a growing number of tools, driven by open data, that are being made available by the Obama Administration as fuel for innovation, ideas, and insights ‐ in this case, at the important intersection of climate and human health.
The Atlas of Climate Change: Mapping the World’s Greatest Challenge: This highly acclaimed atlas distills the vast science of climate change, providing a reliable and insightful guide to this rapidly growing field. Since the 2006 publication of the first edition, climate change has climbed even higher up the global agenda. This new edition reflects the latest developments in research and the impact of climate change, and in current efforts to mitigate and adapt to changes in the world’s weather. (digital copy available)
Climate change and human health: a program of the World Health Organization (WHO). Includes links, reports, news and events. The primary role of WHO is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations’ system.
Climate and Public Health Topics: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): CDC’s Climate and Health Program is helping state and city health departments prepare for the specific health impacts of climate change that their communities will face.
Use these PPL online resources to find articles, videos, and news concerning climate change and human health.