Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What SciFi Can Learn from Shakespeare

On any other day I might have just retweeted this and called it a day, but it is such a very good post, full of equal parts Shakespeare and SciFi goodness, that I wanted to get it out to the bigger audience. 

Working with the “whatever you’ve got, Shakespeare said it first” theme, Charlie Jane Anders breaks down several major modern sci-fi franchises including Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Star Wars .. in terms of Malvolio, Prospero, Oberon, Macbeth, Henry V and others.

There’s so much content in this single post that I don’t really know what to do with myself.  I only wish I followed half the series she mentions so I’d know for example that this Topher person (in Dollhouse) is a sort of weird Malvolio/Macbeth mix of crazy.  I mean, come on, how many people could even imagine such a mashup of two very different characters from such very different plays?

Go read this.  Then come back and pitch me some topics that we can dig into deeper.


Gedaly said...

That's a very cool article. I think all screenwriters should read it!

The part I found most interesting was the mention that the difference between many sci-fi and Shakespearean villains/tragic heroes is that Shakespeare didn't over analyze their flaw. We are rather given a couplet of explanation and perhaps a hint here and there of what is motivating them.

Aside for being a fun challenge for an actor and director, this allows the audience to be more interested in the journey of this character (provided that a strong enough actor is in the role). Spectators can be won over by the protagonist's "honey words" while simultaneously attempting to unearth his core.

The strength of Shakespeare's characters lies in what he doesn't give us.

Lots of other good info in the article too. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Batman - The Dark Knight has elements of The Authorship Question, where Batman/Bruce Wayne attempts to guide the young DA (Harvey Dent/Two Face) along the righteous path, while the Joker (disfigured, painted & insane) undermines his noble attempts; much the same as Shake-speare/Sir Henry Neville (Knight) attempts to guide the young Earl of Southampton/Henry Wriothesley along the righteous path, while the Queen (disfigured, painted & mad with power, in the end) undermines his noble attempts. Neville and Wriothesley spent the last two years of the Queen's life in the Tower for their part in the Essex Rebellion.