Anyone who knows anything about Kenneth Branagh, knows that his reputation as a director pretty much came from his work with bringing Shakespeare to the screen, including some rather amazing, bigger-than-Ben-Hur film adaptations (Hamlet, anyone?). Which is why, despite some people scratching their heads at the decision, the announcement that Marvel had hired him to direct their latest Super Hero comic book adaptation, Thor, wasn’t really that big a stretch from the perspective of those of us who make it our business to know as much as possible about the Bard and those who are bringing his work to the current generation.
Let’s face it – Shakespeare wrote big. In fact, my Shakespeare tutor at drama school probably put it best when he said that if Shakespeare was alive today, he’d be writing block busters for Hollywood. And I think the example of Thorproves his point. Norse Gods, Valhalla, powerful young god outcast from heaven and sent to find his own way on Earth (read that as prodigal son – or, Hamlet, anyone?) – there’s love, revenge, hate, lots of battles, huge sets, more love, pride, anger – you name it, just about every emotion and archetype is represented in Thor – really, if Shakespeare was alive today, he’d probably have thrown his cap in the ring to give the script a whirl himself.
And, from the looks of the trailer above, Ken is also good match for the story and the film. He is good at doing BIG (I really don’t need to mention Hamlet again, do I?). He understands grand scale and yet is very good at working with actors to get that high drama tone, yet make it believable and accessible to a modern audience. But I definitely can’t put it better than the man himself, so here’s short interview with Branagh on the subject instead: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/05/05/2850320/kenneth-branagh-why-thor-matters.html
I’m excited to see the film. I will confess that I am a bit of a super hero movie fan as well as a Shakespeare fan, so this film is likely to satisfy me on both scores – at least that’s what I’m hoping. Then again with a cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård and latest Australian discovery Chris Hemsworth, I’m more than hopeful. And ultimately, it’s escapism – the chance to sit in the darkness of a cinema and visit another world full of gods, myths and monsters – just as Shakespeare used to provide.
PS – while I’m on the subject of new Super Hero films, here’s the trailer to Captain America … looking forward to this one too … oh yes, I’m SUCH a geek!