Monday, November 17, 2008

when to introduce your daughter to shakespeare, or are you old enough?

there are two shakespearian works that i love. romeo and juliet and macbeth. both were studied at school, so both were meticulously de-coded and understood and enjoyed.

my 12-year-old princess is currently obsessed, along with all the other girls in the world aged tween to teen, with four books called the twilight series. they are better written than the harry potter series, and the love story that is central appeals to girls. there are references throughout to pride and prejudice, wuthering heights and romeo and juliet.

princess has read the four books, all hefty tomes, in their entirety, about 6 times. the movie comes out on dec 11 or something, i am slated to take her and her friends to see it on saturday the 13th. i'm not allowed to watch with them, i have to drop them off and leave.

so when princess starts asking questions about wuthering heights (also studied year 12 english lit) and romeo and juliet, and when princess is sick with a bad virus for 6 days and counting, and has nothing to read other than the fucking twilight series, what's a mother to do?

why, she goes to the video store, borrows wuthering heights, also the zeferelli version of r&j and settles in for a bit of culture transfusion with her somewhat precocious daughter.

so an hour and a half later sees us both on the same couch, crying at the end of luhrmann's romeo and juliet. she didn't like it, she wanted the happy ending. i tried to explain that it would not have been such a strong story, the best of all romantic stories, powerful, moving, emotional, etc, without the tragic ending. of course, luhrmann has drawn it out, not just having romeo finding juliet "dead" and then killing himself, just as she wakes, but with her moving her hands, fluttering her eyelids, opening her eyes just as he is taking the poison. and he sees she is alive. this all added terrifically to princess' hysteria, as she sobbed, said she didn't like it, but refused when i suggested we turn it off.

me: it's not a bad thing to cry, and let movies make you sad. they're not real, after all.

p: i don't care. i don't like it.

me: it's such a beautiful story.

p: well, it's like poetry, the way they talked, but sounded like gibberish

me: yeah, i couldn't understand it either. i need the subtitles.

p: i don't like it. i don't think i'll ever watch it again.

so, she'll be home again tomorrow. i don't think she'll be able to take zeferelli's r&j - i was thinking we could do a comparison and see which one we preferred. and i think she'll be wary of wuthering heights.

p: so is wuthering heights sad?

me: um, not in the same way

p: [silence]

so, i might have to rethink tomorrow's activities. maybe a boardgame would be safer.


LuLu said...

You are a beautiful mother :)

I can't wait to have such an opportunity to challenge and inspire my babies (which I am yet to have!)

Little Miss Scatterbrain said...

that's beautiful :) i watched Baz Lhurman's (sp?) 'Romeo and Juliet' at school- i loved it, but no one else did (including the teacher)

now the secret's out :D

Anonymous said...

Baz's WS'sR+J is an impressive work (probably his best, just ahead of Moulin Rouge), and you have to hand it to him for the way he took the original and Did Things To It to make it more emotive (except for the gun fight in the petrol station, which was just silly).

Rather than show her the movie of Wuthering Heights, how about play her the Kate Bush song (*not* the video)?

"Ooh, let me have it/
Let me grab/
Your soul away/"

Emily was the original and the best at the sort of Gothic writing that Ms Meyer et al are channeling, imho, and Ms Bush captures that death-transcending co-dependence in her three odd minutes better than any film of the text i've yet seen.

(disclosure: WH is one of my Favourite Books Of All Time)

Melba said...

thanks lulu, and lms for your comments.

gullybogan, i like your referencing of kate bush. i love that song. i love the video. so sue me. wuthering heights was at one time my all time favourite book. it is also in my top 10 most-enjoyed literary experiences.

we are tossing up whether to watch the zefferelli version of r&j today (princess has already said she knows she'll prefer the luhrmann version) or the wuthering heights (1970 version, with timothy dalton. couldn't get the olivier one, and really i think that would be too dated for her.)

i love all of luhrmann's red curtain movies, adored moulin rouge, so did princess, but again, sad. she doesn't like sad. she likes the twilight series, not only for the romance and because edward is such a fucking spunk (my words, not her's) but because of the happy ending. they find a way to be together and for him not to be killing her and sucking her blood.

Pepsi said...

Dont show her the Timothy Dalton one, its awful and may spoil WH for her.

You sound like you are doing a stellar job there Melba, as a 12 year old I had dived right into that stuff head first, and sadly unaided, your guidance will be invaluable to her and she'll remember it for a long time.

Its making me jealous :-)

Melba said...

oh my god pepsi go and look at the new post!


can you recommend a better version? more modern? i think she'd watch it again if it was modern.

Pepsi said...

I see - bad timing, thats what I get for going away and only catching up with my blog reading today.

The old William Wyler one is the best, though I think the story is very much overdue for a BBC remake.

The Juliette Binoche / Ralph Fiennes one in the 90s was better than the Dalton one but its still not GREAT.

Melba said...

i don't think i could sit through not only binoche but fiennes in w heights. it would seem like a travesty or something.

i haven't heard of the william wyler one. i might have to do a wuthering heights comparison. on my own.

oh and pepsi, i told her what you said about the timothy dalton version and it putting her off.

she said "well it has."

fuck. i'll leave it a few years and then sneak it back under her nose.

Perseus said...

Can I have a date with Lulu?

Melba said...

i'm not sure whether i'm annoyed or pleased that you are trawling my blog for potential baby-mummies, perseus.

i feel quite protective of the young girls who come here. in a mama-san kind of way.

lulu, how old are you dear?

perseus, don't frighten them away.