Tag Archives | Middelboe

Middelboe Chronicles, Part 67: Don Quixote

[T]oday we read the whole of Don Quixote with a bitter taste in the mouth, it is almost an ordeal, which would make us seem very strange and incomprehensible to the author and his contemporaries, – they read it with a clear conscience as the funniest of books, it made them nearly laugh themselves to death. — Nietzsche

Following up yesterday’s story of windmills (The Tree With the Golden Apples) with a rather more famous story on, inter alia, the same subject: Cervantes’ Don Quixote (“Animated Epics,” 2000).

The only version I could find online is split into three parts:

Or if you prefer a musical version, here’s a clip featuring the inimitable Richard Kiley (I love Peter O’Toole, but his Quixote doesn’t quite grab me):

Middelboe Chronicles, Part 65: Omuninyan

There are many stories around the world that resemble that of Cinderella in one respect or another; but this one, Omuninyan, from Namibia (“Animated Tales of the World,” 2004), has too close a resemblance at too many points to be a coincidence. Since the Cinderella story existed in Europe in something like its present form by the 17th century, while contact between Europeans and Namibians was minimal prior to the 19th century, this tale of “Ash Girl” is evidently a Namibian adaptation of the European story.

I have no clever argument for my segue from Julius Caesar to Omuninyan. At this point there is a ragged gap in the structure of reason itself.

Middelboe Chronicles, Part 64: Julius Caesar

In the most high and palmy state of Rome
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell
The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets

From the periphery of Roman imperial power, in yesterday’s The Miracle Maker, to the epicenter, in today’s Julius Caesar (“Shakespeare: The Animated Tales,” 1994).

The way that Caesar’s cape flaps behind him reminds me of Beowulf’s similarly flapping cape back in Part 1.

Inexplicably, this adaptation changes the manner of Brutus’s and Cassius’s deaths. What happened to “Hold then my sword … while I do run upon it” – which I remember vividly from my old Classics Illustrated comics?

Even before the comics, my first introduction to this play, and to Shakespeare generally, was when my mother bought me a recording (pictured below) of speeches from Julius Caesar and The Tempest. (Oddly, the cover artist seemed to think he was illustrating Midsummer Night’s Dream. I mean, I suppose the chap with wings there could be either Ariel or Puck, but his companion can only be Nick Bottom.) Even without context, and having no idea which side to root for, I was fascinated by the exchange of funeral speeches between Antony and Brutus. (I still am!)

Middelboe Chronicles, Part 63: The Miracle Maker

The Middle Eastern theme continues with The Miracle Maker, a Jesus biopic told partly from the viewpoint of Jairus’s daughter. This extra-long 1999 culmination of the “Testament: The Bible in Animation” series has an especially all-star cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Richard E. Grant, Julie Christie, William Hurt, Ian Holm, Miranda Richardson, and Alfred Molina.

I wonder whether this is really a “Christian movie” as the YouTube description says. When the same team adapted, e.g., Greek or Celtic or Norse legends, as we’ve seen, were those “pagan movies”?

If you like your Jesus biopics a bit more musical, here are two versions of Jesus Christ Superstar. The 1973 version has cooler locations, but the 2000 version has the amazing Jérôme Pradon as Judas:

I couldn’t find the 1973 Godspell movie online, but here’s a clip:

(I was first introduced to Godspell by Paul Cameron Cate back in my high school days, if I’m remembering correctly.)

And here’s Godspell’s Jesus over four decades later:

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