Every quarter, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts chooses a new theme for their “Focus on Film” series. Upcoming themes for this year include cases of mistaken identity in Alfred Hitchcock movies and movies that inspired the work of director Paul Haggis. This fall’s theme is “Shakespeare in the Cinema.“
“Focus on Film” was intended to exhibit art house films for students and non-students alike. The series‘ next event will screen Throne of Blood on Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Studio Theatre. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 with a student ID. An informal reception will follow the screening.
There was a specific reason Shakespeare was chosen as this term’s theme, Mondavi executive director Don Roth said in an e-mail interview. The Mondavi Center is hosting a “Season of Shakespeare” series throughout the year, which includes stage performances as well as other exploratory efforts.
Roth said that he felt that the two programs would complement each other well and that the plays of Shakespeare would resonate with students.
“The underlying theme [of the series] is the relevance of Shakespeare to our lives today,” Roth said. “That’s what makes his plays so great. Despite the centuries that have passed, you will recognize friends, relatives, colleagues, their emotions, their strengths and weaknesses in the characters of Shakespeare’s plays.“
So far, this quarter’s series have featured the cinematic adaptation Twelfth Night and the documentary Looking for Richard. Monday’s screening of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood will be the last film of the “Shakespeare in the Cinema” series.
Set in medieval Japan, the 1957 film stands out from the rest of the Shakespearean-inspired films.
“Shakespeare is obviously a master that everyone knows,” said Jessica Kelly, Mondavi Center senior writer for public relations. “Kurosawa is probably one of the most, if not the most, famous Japanese director. He made several Shakespeare plays into his own masterpieces.“
“I think it really is the most authentic take on Macbeth,” Kelly added. “It really captures the story so well.“
UC Davis professor and chair of the East Asian Languages and Cultures department Chia-ning Chang said in an e-mail interview that Kurosawa used aspects of traditional Japanese Noh theater and Noh music in Throne of Blood. Chang said that Kurosawa skillfully changed the original setting of Macbeth to medieval Japan to create “his own drama of ambition, betrayal and human fragility.“
Ultimately, the choice of Throne of Blood to anchor the fall series is a testament to the power of Shakespeare’s plays to transcend time, space and creative director.
Roth admitted to being a “film nut,” and acknowledged that many students on campus have the potential to be passionate about film as well. He said he hopes that attending the “Shakespeare in the Cinema” series will help recruit a few more converts.
“Don’t waste these great movies by seeing them on a home video system,” Roth said. “Here’s a chance to see the real deal.“
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.