I’d like to preface this post with the fact that I’m still not 100% sure what the teachers want from these posts. Unclear if that’s just me being less than smart, or something else. Regardless, I came up with this idea for my weekly reflection and so were going with it.
One thing that I’ve noticed, that we’ve touched on a wee bit, is the amount of adaptations of The Taming of the Shrew. By adaptations, I mean movies, television shows, plays of course, all that jazz. Believe you me, there are more than enough. The thing is, I guess the themes are timeless or whatever, so people keep making them.
I was curious. So, as one does, I went investigating. Like I mentioned before, there are quite a few adaptations that I could choose from. I decided to look into two of them, and kinda give the low down on them in this post. The ones I’ve chosen are all movies, to be clear, but interesting enough in their own rights.
Just a note, I haven’t actually seen these movies, or not the entire thing.
The first movie version that we’ll be talking about is the 1929 version of the film, directed by Sam Taylor. This version was in fact talkie*, and the first talkie of The Taming of the Shrew. It starred Mary Pickford as Kate, and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks as Petruchio.
The film is most notable for how Pickford delivered Kate’s last speech of the movie. When Kate goes through the reasons that a wife should obey her husband, she makes a subtle communication with Bianca, which Petruchio does not notice, that shows that Kate has not actually been tamed. This opposes the idea in the original Shakespeare version, where in the end Kate is tamed. In Taylor’s version, Kate knows what’s going on, and responds accordingly.
The next version is the 1967 adaptation, which I have seen parts of as it is the version we are watching in class. This one, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, is probably the most famous version. Something that is an interesting connection between both this version and the previous version is that in both, Kate and Petruchio are played by real life couples. Zeffirelli’s version starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
In this version, there does seem to be a bit more of the idea that Kate and Petruchio actually fall in love. It is also noted that Kate tends to cast longing glances at Petruchio, as we’ve discussed in class a few times.
The biggest difference in Taylor’s performance then Pickford’s comes again to Kate’s last speech. Taylor chose to deliver the speech with seniority, much to the dismay of Burton and Zeffirelli. However, she continues to undermine Petruchio’s authority by leaving the banquet without him.
I wanted to compare these two because of the different ideals of women in the time period, and how both Pickford and Taylor play the character of Katherina. I think its interesting how in both versions, the decision was made to show that Kate was never actually tamed. That speaks a lot to the idea of the perfect wife, and something to consider when watching these.
*talkie: a movie with a soundtrack, as opposed to a silent film