shakespeare  

前言

「莎翁情史」(Shakespeare in Love)於1998年上映,榮獲多項殊榮。它被歸類為浪漫愛情喜劇,主要內容是描繪伊莉莎白時期英國劇場的盛況,文學才子投入劇本的創作,讓劇場充滿生命力。戲劇同時也凝聚社會各階層的人民,雅俗共賞,貧冨齊聚一堂,一同徜徉在虛擬的舞台世界,應和著演員們的情緒,和他們同悲同喜,讓心靈得到替代性的滿足。這就是劇場千古不變的魅力。本片藉莎翁的一段情史,向當時的劇場致敬。另外一個重要的議題,本片也有肯定的答案。到底是戲如人生抑或人生如戲? 是藝術模仿人生還是人生模仿藝術?

 

  1. A Tribute to Elizabethan Drama

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Discourses everywhere:

As if we don't know how to love our mother, social media taught us the ways---Flowers, gifts, feasts make this grand day a commercialized holiday. "Buy your mother something," so said the commercials. We are hailed by the dominant discourse, inescapably, resignedly and unknowingly!  Once the Festivity drops, everyone goes back to the normal world with dear mothers standing at the kitchen sink, washing toilets, drying laundry, making bed...... 

A structuralist analysis:     

"I love you, mother!" means "I'm always forgetting you!" Always without you in my mind, acutally, mother. But this day enforces the memory of you, eliciting the sentiment of gratitude in me, which lies dormant, languid, undisturbed in the depth of my heart. The space for a mother is monotonous. The sound of a mother, while sonorous, meets a dead end. Unlike lovers' world, mother' world is full of soliloquy without passionate or due response from the other side. Love message beckons an immediate and frenzied echo; mother's message waits for time to reverberate.

Unrequited love:

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Fifty years of romance writing didn't awaken Giong Yao (瓊瑤)from the illusion of love. From the turbulent era of WW2 (幾度夕陽紅) to today's technological world, (花非花霧非霧) her kingdom of Love remains perfect, passionate, and eternal. The medium of Love may change from letter writing to email, smartphone and skype, but the essence of Love remains the same. It's violent tempests or burning flames to consume lovers away. Say "I love you" a thousand times and her fictional lovers don't feel exhausted by the soothing words, but the audience do! Love, once expressed verbally, loses its mysterious luster and becomes jejune. Oscar Wilde perceived this well: "The essence of love is uncertainty." The most unbearable part of romance is when lovers confess their love and are accepted by their beloved. The beginning of marriage is the end of romance. No wonder, Giong Yao's kingdom of Love is populated by unmarried lovers suffering from either unrequited love or temporary misunderstanding. And her lovers are always willing to die for Love, as if they had nothing else to do in life except to love. [sigh]  Aye, one should always remember the friar's warning in Romeo and Juliet:    

These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness

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Though much is taken, much abides; and though / We are not now that strength which in old days / Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; / One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

What made Skyfall the highest-grossing film in the UK in 2002, and win several accolades, including Outstanding British Film, Best Sound Editing and Best Original Song?

James Bond has no lack of duplicates. For example, Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible is his counterpart with the same heroic heart and deeds. The clichéd elements of an action thriller find full expression in Skyfall. The overall structure echoes the pattern of a mythological hero’s adventure. A crisis happens and calls for the savior/hero’s rescue. With the supernatural aid, the hero steps into the mysterious land, like the dark forest or deep ocean, slays the monster and returns with a final boon to benefit his society. Let’s see how James Bond in Skyfall fits into this pattern. The crisis Bond was assigned to solve was to capture M’s rival, a former agent turning into a traitor. The dangerous criminal is no less threatening than the ancient monsters. Bond the hero/savior is lightly armed to fight against the traitor with powerful weapons---a perfect replica of David against Goliath, the triumph of the small over the big, the reincarnation of David’s bow and stone in Bond’s knife. Of course, the bullet-proof hero undergoes trials and tribulations physically and mentally--- the climbing to heights and diving to bottoms, the chasing through tunnels and the setting of traps. The hero/ savior must explore the dark land with a supernatural aid. For Bond, his aid always comes in the form of a beautiful female figure, be it White or Black. This time, it’s M and his partner, a Black beauty, as well as an abused Oriental lady. The trio constitutes Bond’s aid, leading him into the dangerous place, the mysterious Oriental land, Shanghai. There, he captured the very monster, but unfortunately, didn’t slay him right at the spot. After all, Bond is the law-abiding British, a gentleman who adheres to the law. The traitor should be left at the hands of the government. And what’s the final boon to bestow upon his fellow men? The spreading of the virtue of patriotism and self-sacrifice.

James Bond is distinguished from other agents in that he exudes the very flavor of the British--something distinctive in the British civilization, continuous and persisting, stretching into the future and past. It is the one not only characterized by “winding roads,” “green fields” and “red pillar-boxes” as appearing in the scenes of the film. It is also the invisibly patriotic sentiment that pervades the British hearts, soothing and inspiring them in times of hardship. Patriotism has entered into the British soul, so to speak. Despite the changing of times, such a uniting force never fades. George Orwell once indicated that patriotism, although taking different forms in different classes, runs like a connecting thread through the British: “Up to a point, the sense of national unity is a substitute for a ‘world-view’. Just because patriotism is all but universal and not even the rich are uninfluenced by it, there can be moments when the whole nation suddenly swings together and does the same thing, like a herd of cattle facing a wolf.” James Bond films feature the crisis that threatens the nation. The hero/savior manifests the very unifying force of patriotism. He represents the collective consciousness of the British people---loyal to the nation and invincible. The great British Empire has seemingly lost its splendor. But no, it has James Bond's boss, M, to remind people worldwide that “Though much is taken, much abides; and though / We are not now that strength which in old days / Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; / One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” With the endorsement of Tennyson’s lines, James Bond cannot be Ethan Hunt. He remains a British hero forever.

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It's a story about a quiet, queenly woman who never looked away, a tale to tear the heart of a mother, daughter and  the Blacks with slave ancestors.

Here are the fragments of the sad song by Tony Morrison:

 A man was nothing but a man. They encouraged you to put some of your weight in their hands and soon as you felt how light and lovely that was, they studied your scars and tribulations, after which they did what he had done: ran her children out and tore up the house.

 

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On Failure 

失敗是人生中不可避免的經驗。如何從失敗中汲取教訓,重新出發進而轉敗為勝,是大家共同的生命課題。以下三位不同領域的名人,分別在美國名校的畢業典禮上,分享自己的人生故事,談到如何從失敗中學習而後扭轉逆境,值得借鏡深思。

第一位是電視界名人歐普拉。她縱橫脫口秀節目二十餘年,收視長紅,另闢一個新節目觀眾卻不捧場。她在失敗後對哈佛大學畢業生講了以下這段話:

不管你多成功,如果你不斷鞭策自己要往上爬,到某個點你勢必跌倒。中庸法則早已預告會如此,希臘神話也如此明示。(伊卡魯斯(Icarus), 不聽父親戴德勒斯(Daedalus)的叮嚀,逃離迷宮後飛行要盡量緊貼海面。他越飛越高,翅膀無法承受太陽的高溫而融化,最後跌落大海淹死。)但記住這點: 沒有失敗這回事,失敗只是意味生命必須轉換方向而已。你可以給自己一點時間哀嘆因失敗而失去的東西,但重要的是,要從每一次錯誤中學習,它會教導你、逼迫你成為真正的自己,然後再去思索下一步該怎麼走。生命中要緊的是建立自我內在的道德及情緒定位系統,指引著自己該何去何從。畢業自名校哈佛的高材生,頂著榮耀的光環,未來在社會上勢必是舉足輕重的人物,不乏律師、參議員、執行長、物理學家、諾貝爾獎、普立茲獎得主之人才。但生命真正的挑戰不在於你的履歷有多風光,不在於你的頭銜地位是甚麼,而在於你想要成為甚麼樣的人,你的人生目的是甚麼。你的生命履歷表內,不僅是記載你成就了哪些豐功偉業,而是你為何而做?將來你失敗跌倒時,問問自己初衷何在?你當初的目的和使命是甚麼? 靠這個使命感你就能再站起來,走出困境。

(Oprah Winfrey in Harvard, 2013)

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 moneyball-poster  

電影「魔球」(Moneyball)改編自Micahel Lewis於2003出版的小說,主要探討資金有限的棒球隊,如何借助計量經濟學(econometrics),有效率的達到贏球的目標。此片顛覆傳統的棒球經驗,例如由球探針對個人的打擊率(batting rate)、防守率(defense rate)及人格特質(personality)來發掘球星,還有犧牲短打(bunt)、盜壘(steal base) 等常用策略,都遭到否定。本片強調棒球致勝關鍵在於在壘率(on-base rate)。一支球隊中,上壘率高的球員越多,就越容易贏球。根據這個原則,一位耶魯大學經濟系的非專業棒球小子,替奧克蘭運動家隊的總經理Billy Beane選了三位棒球專業人士眼中的爛貨,不是手肘受傷不能傳球,就是球技退化或私生活不檢點的球員。他們能雀屏中選,因為上壘率很高,又因為大型球隊都不想要,所以只需花很少的錢就能買到。只要能上壘,就有機會得分,管他是安打或四壞保送上壘的。所以只要有耐心及判斷力,不要隨意揮棒,慢慢等待保送上壘,贏球機會就變大。這樣的作戰策略,為小成本的運動家隊帶來20場連勝的輝煌戰績,也等於宣揚此經濟學理論的成功。

 

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It’s so much easier to choose to love the things that you have. And you have so much, instead of always yearning for what you’re missing - - - or what it is that you’re imagining you are missing.

(Meryle Streep in One True Thing)

One True Thing, a 1988 American film, explores the subtlety of family relationship. The one true thing refers to the devoted mother who lights up her family’s life at the cost of her health. It’s touching because the three major roles reflect part of us, as a father, mother or kids. This article will examine three aspects of family relationship: father/daughter, mother/daughter, and husband/wife

I. Father / daughter

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Introduction

Black Swan, a 2010 psychological thriller, explores the binary conflicts in human life---reason/unreason, love/hatred, repression/passion, hetero/homosexuality. The warring of the two turns out tragic in the film, for the latter overwhelms the former and leads to the death of the female protagonist.

First of all, the theme of binary contradiction is symbolized by the classical ballet, Swan Lake, in which the swan queen should portray two contradictory roles at the same time, White and Black Swan. Nina, the leading character starring Natalia Portman, exhibits the coexistence of evil and innocence, passion and reservation. In her exist the two contradictory qualities. White is associated with the pure and noble while black with the seductive and evil. As black and white swans are twins, the two characteristics co-inhabit the human mind, always waging destructive wars and wrecking havoc on life. In the ballet, white swan kills herself out of the despair over the loss of her lover. In real life, Nina also kills herself out of despair, only that the despair is caused by her jealousy, fear and hatred. The film presents a subtle parallel between Life and Art with Life heavily influenced by Art. The tone is pessimistic and doomed. Now, let’s examine in detail the binary contradictions in the swan queen’s mind.

I. Reason/unreason

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