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Watching

Video Digest: August 25, 2006

Shakespeare on a lark: Macbeth from down under and Orson Welles in Haiti; Floyd Lloyd Rocks!; Kung Fu baby makes Sarah laugh; adorable bunnies chow down.

I’ve always wondered why there weren’t more modern film versions of Macbeth. Hamlet’s been made three times in the past 15 years. What’s wrong, Kenneth Branagh, afraid of a little Scottish play? The last Macbeth on screen was the 1971 version directed by Roman Polanski and produced by Hugh Hefner, back when he did that sort of thing. I always assumed the problem with Macbeth was its supernatural elements: The best speech takes place with a floating dagger, and at one point, a bloody baby appears. Plus, the ending’s kind of a mess. All that confusing business about Birnam Wood moving against Dunsinane? That wouldn’t test well. Macbeth is having a comeback, however: Liev Schreiber starred in the Shakespeare in the Park version this summer and Australian director Geoffrey Wright has an updated, Baz Luhrmann-ized version being released down under in September.




Wright is the same guy who directed the creepy skinhead classic Romper Stomper (starring a young Russell Crowe). His version of Macbeth takes place in the ganglands of Melbourne, with lots of guns, naked women, and a lead character who looks like an indie rocker.

I was digging through the YouTube entries on Macbeth—a slew of high-school productions and creative class projects, like “Claymation Macbeth” and “Gummi Bear Macbeth”—when I came across an old newsreel of a 1936 production by the Negro Unit of the Federal Works Project. Directed by Orson Welles and set in Haiti, this all-black Macbeth was quite a revelation at the time. Consider that in 1952, Welles played Othello in blackface. (Actually, Anthony Hopkins did the same. In 1981!) In the Welles version of Othello, you can actually see the makeup smudge on the white handkerchief. There’s no problem like that in this all-black production. Well, also, it’s a different play.




I know much more about Orson Welles and Macbeth than I know about Floyd Lloyd, the director of the following video. Apparently, he went around Sundance asking people to say, “Floyd Lloyd rocks!” (By the appearance of American Movie’s Mark Borchardt, are we to believe this is 1999—or are those guys still around?) It’s an interesting experiment, not only to see who will take the bait, but also who can say the phrase, which is quite a tongue-twister. Now, say “red leather, yellow leather” five times fast.




I have nothing to say about the following footage of a baby, only that it makes me laugh.




And, finally, adorable bunnies eating.




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