Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Taming of the Shrew (1966) "La mujer indomable"

Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Alan Webb, Cyril Cusack, Michael York, Michael Hordern, Alfred Lynch


This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie with a lot of faults but so much color and fast pace that you are not given enough time to pick it apart. The most unfortunate thing is the shrew's behavior. The original play doesn't give too much liberty to a character that is basically obnoxious the whole time with the exception of the end when she delivers a speech that has been highly criticized (feminists included). But the point of taking Shakespeare to the screen is to give another dimension to the characters, Liz Taylor should have been more subtle in handling the piece. She only has two types of attitude throughout the movie: eyes popping screamer and cat's eye slithering whisperer. Both extremes suit the character but it's hard to see so much of it. The script is rather good, very faithful to the play but it doesn't mix with the sets. Zeffirelli didn't choose the correct play to handle with his exquisite taste for the sumptuous. In Hamlet he did a far better job with his operatic conception of the set but in this movie one feels that even cinemascope is a bit too much, first of all because there are too many indoor scenes to justify it. However, the movie looks good and it was a very important step forward in showing movie audiences that a Shakespeare movie can be fun and luxurious at the same time. Only for me it didn't work. And the music is also very good, I can't get that tune from my head but I think that something more in the line of Falstaff's "sing me a bawdy song, make me merry" would have been more appropriate. Nino Rotta is a fantastic composer but quite out of tune with what's on screen. I think there are many resemblances between this movie and Branagh's Much Ado... I think Ken had a lot to learn from Zeffirelli and did it better. This is an enjoyable movie for Shakespeare fans and for fans of Lizzie and Rick as well as for anybody who likes good costumes and sets.

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