Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Midsummer Nightmare in India

As I was reading up on haunted places found in the world, I came across a place in India called The Haunted Ruins of Bhangarh. After learning of how it became the top ten haunted places in the world, I couldn't help but see the similarities the haunted legend had when compared to one of Shakespeare's plays "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
For this topic, I would like to point out the shocking similarities between the legend of The Haunted Ruins of Bhangarh in India and the Shakespeare Play "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

The Time Frame:

Bhangarh was established in 1573, there is no indication that that was the year the legend started, but over the years the city has been declining rapidly in population especially after the famine in 1783.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" was written between 1590 and 1596 and was said to have been published in 1600. This was about 20 years after Bhangarh became a city. Now this is just a theory, but it is possible that Shakespeare got this story about the legend from merchants who have been there, and Shakespeare decided to loosely incorporate the legend into one of his plays. He has done this before. With the play "The Tempest" he gathered information from merchants that have explored the Atlantic Ocean, the Americas and even Bermuda. India is already referenced a number of times in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", so why not.

Oberon and Singhia and Guru Balu Nath Connections:

When I was reading up on the legend of the city of Bhangarh, I found a lot of similarities with this place's haunting beginnings and Oberon's character in "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
This place has two legends, I will expand on both.

In the first legend of the city Bhangarh, it was said to have been cursed by a magician named Guru Balu Nath. Now the word "guru" means "teacher" in both Hinduism and Buddhism beliefs, but it means more than that. It's like a "spiritual teacher", almost like a "prophet". Balu Nath sanctioned the construction of Bhangarth on only one condition... that "The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!" Later a descendant prince raised the palace to a height that shadowed Balu Nath's forbidden retreat. Balu Nath then placed a curse on the town. To this day, no one is allowed to be in the city after sunset. The government even put signs near Bhangarh that forbid the fearless venturers to enter.
The connection I bring up in this legend, is Puck calling Oberon "King of Shadows", which he only calls him that once. This alone is interesting, because the curse is based on "shadows" touching the "guru" who can be deemed as a "king" sometimes.

The other part of the legend of this cursed city is about a Princess of Bhangarh named Ratnavati. On her eighteenth birthday she started to get offers of marriage from other royalties in neighboring regions. In her area lived a tantrik(a type of magician) named Singhia, who was in love with the princess, but knew that the match was impossible. One day Singhia saw the princess's maid in the market getting oil for the princess. He used this opportunity to put a love spell in the oil. The spell would make the princess fall desperately in love with him if she touched the oil. The plan backfired, because the princess apparently saw it happen beforehand, the princess then poured the oil on a boulder that later rolled and crushed Singhia. Before he died he placed a curse of death to fall on all those who dwelt in the city. The following year Bhangarh had a battle with Ajabgarh in which Princess Ratnavati was killed in.
The connection I found in this legend is "the love potion". Singhia wanted the princess to fall in love with him so he made a potion to do just that. In "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Oberon and Titania argued about whether or not to keep the boy Oberon stole from an Indian king. Oberon decides to take a flower that has been hit by one of Cupid's missed arrows, and have Puck place the dew from that flower into the eye's of Titania, so that she may fall in love with the first thing she sees. Puck also used the "love potion" to make the other main characters fall in love with each other. Puck does a poor job with these attempts. Either way how the story begins, it makes you wonder if Oberon is "The Love Guru"?

Bottom and Reincarnation Connections:

In some Asian religions there is a belief in reincarnation, but for the sake of this connection we're going to primarily focus on Hinduism. In this religion, depending on what you've done in the past life, you will be reincarnated into a variety of forms. If you're lucky you will come back has a successful human being, but if you're not, you come back as something lower than that. Most times when this happens you'll come back as an animal
In the play Bottom wanted to play every part in the play "Pyramus and Thisby". Gender didn't matter, he wanted to play the female Thisby, species didn't matter he wanted to play a lion. To me, this is a hinted symbolism that Bottom represents the belief of reincarnation. It's evident in not only the numerous roles he wanted to be in the play, but that he eventually ended up with a donkey as a head to symbolize his character of being overly confident, stubborn and a bit of an ...

Puck and Karma Connections:

Throughout the play Puck(AKA Robin Goodfellow) creates all types of chaos with his mischievous acts. When Oberon asked Puck to make one of the Athenians fall in love with one another, Puck gets the characters wrong and makes a mess in their relationships. This sounds a lot like karma. Everything you could imagine bad happen to you, happens to you.

The Indian Changeling:

I mentioned about an Indian boy that Oberon had taken from a king earlier, but I didn't mention why Titania didn't wan the Changeling. She didn't want the Indian boy, because he was a son of a dear friend of hers. It basically didn't sit well with her, knowing that the boy was stolen from a family who she knew and loved. With this boy briefly being described, it kinda makes you wonder if the fairy realm is located in some haunted forest in India.

What do you think about all these connections? Did Shakespeare base "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on a "A Midsummer NIGHTMARE in Bhangarh"? I'll let you decide...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fate of the Weirdos

When I was on a California trip with my brother's, we were trying to look for origins of words that we would call each other like: nerd, geek or even dork; while looking on my phone for the answers, I found the word "weird".

Now I know what you're thinking, "What does this have to do with Shakespeare?" Rest assured, there is a reason behind all this. Originally, the word was spelled "W-Y-R-D". It still sounded the same, the only difference (other than the spelling) was that it meant "fate" or "destiny" in Old English. Over time the word eventually changed to the spelling it is now, "weird".

Anyway, knowing that the word "weird" meant "fate" and that it was talking about the "Fate Sisters" we can safely assume that Shakespeare took this well-known mythology and incorporated it into one of his bloodiest plays... "Macbeth"!
Back then, when they were talking about "fate", they were referring to the "Fate Sisters" found in Greek Mythology. You might know them from the Disney movie "Hercules" and even both versions of "The Clash of the Titans"(Side note, the 1981 version is better).

It makes sense, because of his continues references of Greek Mythologies throughout all of Shakespeare's plays. I mean he even coined the phrase "It is all Greek to me."

Going back to the Sisters mentioned in Greek Mythology. We may not know them as the "Fate Sisters" in "Macbeth" but we do know them as the "Weird Sisters", AKA the three witches who prophesied of Macbeth's future reign as king. The "Weird Sisters" were labeled this, because of their "supernatural" ability to see the future. As we all know "supernatural" can also mean something out of the ordinary, strange and even "weird."

So if you are ever called a "weirdo", just remember... you "pick" your own "destiny"! Wink wink!

Monday, April 21, 2014

What If Shakespeare Wrote Movies Today? Part 2

Better Off Dead
"I pray thee, make haste o'er yonder! If perchance there be something in thy path, turn thee away!"
"In faith, I feel as if perchance I am consuming pills that doth make my mind go mad!"
The Goonies
"Goonies ne'er breathe 'die'!"
Shaun of the Dead
"Thou hast red upon thee."
"Perchance hath someone ask thee 'if  thou art a god' thou breathest 'yea!'"
"Thou doth slay me, short villain."
Tommy Boy
"Zounds, in sooth my ears bleed from thy fat butter making."
Billy Madison
"Yea, I did not contain my urine within my pantaloons! Resisting in such is new-fangled!"

Snakes on a Plane.
"I cannot endure these forsaken blasphemous serpents on this forsaken blasphemous flying vessel!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Romeo and Juliet (2013)

 Recently I saw the movie "Romeo and Juliet" the 2013 version. It was an awesome adaption if I may add! In all honesty, before it came out, I thought that it was going to be cheesy and another Shakespearean flop. It didn't have well-known actors playing the key parts, which is why it made me a bit hesitant.

I'm going to tell you what I though about it, give you my rating and let you decide if you want to put it on your list of movies to watch.

I'm actually glad that the movie was taking place in Shakespearean time. With this move it does show that it happened "a long long time ago in a [country] far far away". It also fits with the culture that was present during that era. Don't get me wrong, adapting an old story to fit with modern times would be perfect and relate-able to the new generation, but it's even better to introduce the younger minds to something old-school, because it may be "new" to them.

The cast was amazing! It had Hailee Steinfeld from the "True Grit" remake as Juliet and Paul Giamtti from "Cinderella Man" as Friar Laurence; it also had many others obviously, but needless to say very few of them I recognized from other films, but nevertheless their acting was perfect for this film.

I liked how it payed attention to detail. Meaning that it went along with the original Shakespeare play fairly well. In comparison to the 1996 adaption with Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo, the 2013 movie surprisingly surpassed it's memorable take in the 90's adaption.

In the 1996 version it briefly mentioned that Romeo was lovestruck by a girl named Rosaline, but we
never see her. The story is that Romeo is in love with Rosaline, but Rosaline didn't love him back. at the time Romeo was set on being with her despite what she thought of him. In the 2013 version Rosaline was given a bigger part, which is no surprise, because it happened in the original play. Plus it shows that Romeo was still fixed on Rosaline at the masquerade ball, but later his heart changed quickly once you locked eyes with Juliet. It was... how they say it... "love at first sight".
Another detail that I enjoyed was giving the character Paris a bigger role. In the 1996 version, you only see him and heard that he was going to marry Juliet, but that was it. The 90's movie only made you hate Paris because he smiled too much and looked like he was "high" on something. Which would make sense because he was dressed like a "space-man" at the masquerade ball.
The 2013 version showed him excited in wanting to marry Juliet without delay, but once he finds out that Juliet has "passed" he weeps because he feels that everybody that he has known and loved dies. It really paints a picture of what his past was like before meeting the Capulets, and you kind of feel bad for the guy. More importantly, Paris' role was expanded as he decides to guard Juliet's tomb; this didn't happen in the '96 movie, but it was in the play I assure you. Anyway, while he is there, Romeo happens to come by with the intent of dying in Juliet's arms. Paris and Romeo then duke it out while professing their love for Juliet. Romeo eventually kills Paris and leaves him life-less by the steps near the tomb. It was awesome by the way. The only minor detail that the movie left out was before Paris breathed his last breath, he asked if Romeo could lay his body near Juliet, which Romeo did. I guess I could see why the movie didn't incorporate that. I mean having a complete stranger, you just killed, buried with you and your wife? Awkward...
Lastly I loved how Friar Laurence was trying really hard to make this love with two hated houses work. He thought of everything perfectly, the only thing that ruined it was a messenger helping a sick child, thus delaying his attempt in delivering the letter to Romeo that Juliet is still alive. You had one job!
Overall the movie was great! I highly recommend it, it's a good family friendly movie plus it doesn't have any unwanted intimate scenes that was in the 1968 version.

I give it an 8/10 stars!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kill Shakespeare Comics

I recently read a comic series called "Kill Shakespeare". I would now like to give my opinion on this comic, I'll let you be the judge on whether you want to read it or not.
I enjoyed that it had all characters from the Shakespeare plays fit on one plain. I'm actually writing something about this, but it goes into more depth than the comic books does.
Adapting Shakespeare's work into a comic book series is an interesting move. I don't believe it's been done before, so I give it props on that.
Getting the idea straight from the movie "Kill Bill" for the title and story is also interesting. However, I would've chosen something else.
Now switching gears. I understand that the comics are "loosely" based on Shakespeare's works, but with what they've chosen to do with their story has made me think that they have successfully "Killed Shakespeare"!
 Here are some of the holes that I have found in the comics:
They mention that the main character, Hamlet, is part of a prophecy. It fails to explain who made the prophecy. You just have to assume that the prophecy has been there for years. Yeah, like that's gonna fly! I need details!

In the prophecy Hamlet is referred to as the "Shadow King". There is no mention of Hamlet being called that at all in his play. The only reference I could find was in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Puck AKA Robin Goodfellow, was the one who said it, but he was referring to Oberon, the fairy king AKA the "King of Shadows"(I might even write something about that).
Going back to Puck, they made him into a shape-shifting fairy/monster hybrid. I mean really... c'mon? That's not what he is, if you read closely, in the actual play, you find out that "Puck" isn't even his name, it's Robin Goodfellow, and even his name has a double meaning(I mentioned earlier in my blog "What the Puck!").
They made Lady Macbeth into a villain. First off, the Macbeth's weren't necessary villains, the witches were more of the villains in the play. They gave them both a "push" with their prophecy to fulfill their tragic fate.
They made Hamlet into a whinny socially awkward guy, especially in front of women? That's not Hamlet! Not cool! Yes Hamlet can be a bit rough around the edges, but he is power driven to avenge his father's death!
They have people that praise William Shakespeare as their "god", because he created them, but you find that Shakespeare didn't even want to have tragedies to happen in his play. Really!?! That kinda defeats the purpose of his plays! That's not Shakespeare! He loved his work, and darn it! So do I! These followers are called "Prodigals". I don't know why, they just are. I'm wondering if it is some Bible reference that the followers have to "return" to Shakespeare, their father/creator?

There were a number of other problems, but these were the ones that have made me cringe the most!

So if you're afraid of reading Shakespeare plays, and want to read something fast paced that resembles his work, then go on ahead and read it.

But If you've read or seen the majority of his plays and have even studied it. I can promise you this. You "Will" not like it! See what I did there? ;)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Who Let the Dogs Out?

When I read The Tempest, I came across a  brief description about K-9's... Dogs... chasing Trinculo,
Stephano and Caliban. In the play these mutts were said to have been "... divers Spirits in shape of dogs and hounds..."
Now it got me thinking. And I'll get to my thought shortly after I touch on what I mentioned earlier about the island that Prospero is stranded on. I said that the island was Bermuda. Which is considered to be one of the unsolved mysterious found on the American continent.

Another unsolved mystery on that continent is a creature that is known for sucking blood.
No not Vampires, and especially NOT the sparkling ones.
The blood that this creature sucks is from goats! Yes you guessed it. The infamous "goat-sucker", also known as the Chupacabra!

Now I know what you're thinking. What does a Chupacabra have to do with the dogs that I mentioned earlier? Rest assured my friend, it will all make sense in the end.  Knowing Shakespeare, he tends to have minor connections in his play, especially with Greek Mythology.

The reason I bring up Greek Mythology in this is because of the "hounds" that were talked about in the play. Now think of a mythical creature that is a type of hound. I'll give you a hint. They're found in Disney's Hercules and Harry Potter... Yes you got it! Hellhounds!

It would make sense that these dogs are Hellhounds because of not only Shakespeare's knowledge in Greek Mythology, but also the association he demonstrated with Prospero's sorcery and dealings with various spirits outside of the earthly realm.

Hellhounds are described as being paranormal guard dogs of the entrance to the afterlife. In folklore it is said that they have fire-based ability.
Now you're probably wondering, where's the connection? I will get to that! Chupacabras were believed to have been some vampiric humanoid reptiles that terrorized Puerto Rico by sucking the blood of goats. 
Recently it has been made clear that the culprit was in fact a type of dog that had mange. Mange is a skin disease found on mammals that is caused by parasitic mites which generally resulted in making their skin very itchy. Due to the over excessive scratching, the animal would lose hair and their skin would become "inflamed" and raw. Did you catch the connection there?

In conclusion the dogs and hounds, that Prospero owned, were Hellhounds that are now known as Chupacabras! I guess that answers the question "Who let the dogs out?"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Top Tragic Tensed Scenes in Shakespeare Plays

When I was watching a lot of Top Tens from Watchmojo, I stumbled upon Top Ten Hilarious Death scenes. It then got me thinking, why don't I do my Top Death Scenes in Shakespeare? So I decided to choose the most memorable from those plays and call it...

Top Tragic Tensed Scenes in Shakespeare Plays:

1- Lavinia- After dealing with Demetrius and Chiron in a most cruel manner, the brothers cut off her hands and even her tongue. Her neck later gets broken by her own father Titus because her chastity being violated.
I have no words for this... except this... Two "stumps" up for her tragic scene and death!

2- Romeo & Juliet- Both lovers couldn't live a day without each other. Quite literally if I may add. I mentioned before that it was all Juliet's fault for Rome's death. Since when has faking your death helped people be together in the end. Have you heard of "Peter and the Wolf"? Tragic tale! Anyway, Romeo assumes Juliet is dead. He then kills himself by drinking poison in order to die beside her in the tomb. When Juliet awakes she finds that Romeo is dead. She tries to drink the poison with hope to meet the same fate, but instead she stabs herself with Romeo's dagger to complete a dual tragedy.

3- Macbeth- Macbeth doesn't have a good head on his shoulders. He boasts about his invincibility as he is going to battle, but because of his pride, karma got the best of him. Instead of keeping the crown safely on his head, his head is cut off and the crown is placed on the head of a new king instead. You'd think that the witches could've given Macbeth more of a heads up for heaven's sake!

4- Ophelia- Ophelia was crying a river, as well as drowning her sorrows while dealing with Hamlet's  emotional vibes, it was hard for her to know if he even loved her. Hearing about how Hamlet killed her father accidentally behind a curtain wasn't helping. Ophelia's mind wasn't flowing with joy at that time. She was talking about bushing up daises before she decided to take a little swim.

5- Polonious- This was clearly an accident. All Polonius had to say was "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" But no, he screamed for "help" and eventually got stabbed to death by Hamlet in the process.

6- Julius Caesar- Caesar didn't have a lot of friends. In fact all of them didn't like him. Even his close friend stabbed him in the back, quite literally if I may add.

7- Demetrius and Chiron- After mutilating Lavinia, Titus decides to "make" something out of them, by having them for dinner!

8- Gloucester- This guy is sight for sore eyes! It is plain to see that this eye popping scene with Gloucester is a sight to behold!

9- Cordelia-Thanks for hanging around for Cordelia. Hopefully you won't need the ropes for this one.

10- Cleopatra- Now this is something you'll really sink you teeth into. Let's just say that Cleopatra might've been on the movie "Snakes on a Plane".

11- Antigonus- Now this is a grizzly and yet random scene. Antigonus from "Winter's Tale" is pursued by "A Godless Killing Machine!" Not a loin, nor tiger; but a bear! Oh My! I can't "bear" to watch!

12- Hamlet- While having a duel, Hamlet gets scratched by at tip of a sword, that happened to be poisoned.

13- Claudius- He gets poisoned two ways by Hamlet. One by getting stabbed with a poisonous sword and the other by drinking the poison that was intended for Hamlet. Could this be the first "Double Tap"?

14- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern- They were killed by pirates. It makes you wonder if they were killed by Bloody Pirates of the Caribbean or the Dread Pirate Roberts?

15- Iago- After deceiving many, especially Othello, he was then tortured to death for his heinous acts!

16- Desdemona-  After being accused of cheating, she is then smothered to death with a pillow by her lover Othello. You think this was the first "pillow fight"?

17- Aaron-  Lucius from Titus Andronicus decides to bury Aaron chest deep, leaving him to die of starvation and thirst. What if Aaron found sand worms.

There you have it! Which Tragic Tensed Scene from Shakespeare Plays did you find memorable?