_. I W‘s a mix

of murder, '

revenge, ' infanticide, rape and mutilation. And it's 400 years old. Lion stage ; f“: ‘7 y . . ' '

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EVERYONE KNOWS VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF life. But still there‘s something perverse about Julie 'l‘aymor‘s decision to follow her stage

production of The Lion King with a film of

Shakespeare‘s Titus /\Il(ll‘()llf('ll.\'. One is a family-oriented singing animal spectacular: the other. Titus. a bloody mix of murder. revenge. infanticide. rape and mutilation.

So what made her do it'.’ Talking to 'l‘aymor.

it emerges that Titus is actually an adaptation of

an ()ff-B roadway production of 'I'I‘tns Andi-mucus she directed in l‘)‘)4. It was while working on that version that she overcame the shock of reading the playwright‘s gruesome tragedy for the first time. and learned to ‘Iove and adore it as a play".

Although Shakespeare scholars often write off 'Iitus Andi-mucus as a crude and gratuitously violent pot boiler. 'l‘aymor thinks it has been

6 THELIST (7 2.«1Aug2000


given a ‘bum rap'. She accepts it‘s a flawed work that shows signs of Shakespeare‘s struggle to find a voice but she believes that what the play lacks in refinement. it makes up for in power and directness.

‘What I love about this is that it‘s got that rage that a young man has.‘ she enthuses. ‘lt takes chances that only sometimes a youthful artist is able to do because he‘s not self- ccnsoring. He doesn‘t know what works and what doesn‘t work at this stage so it‘s got cynicism. anger. bravado.‘

It is. she suggests. a play for our time: “The thing that makes it so contemporary is the

juxtaposition between black humour and

tragedy. We think that was created by Quentin 'l'arantino. but Shakespeare was genius at doing it way before him.‘

What especially fascinated her. though.

was Shakespeare‘s exploration of the theme of violence. In the film (as in the play). the triumphal return to Rome of (ieneral Titus Andronicus (Anthony Hopkins) ends with him selecting the eldest son of 'l‘amora (Jessica Lange). Queen of the (ioths. for ritual sacrifice. Though sanctioned by Roman law. the killing sets in motion a grisly cycle of revenge that ultimately ensnares the innocent as well as the guilty.

‘It is the most powerful dissertation ever written on all forms of violence.’ says 'l'aymor. ‘Wc Americans don‘t know how to deal with violence. I don‘t mean just the acts. but violence in the entertainment industry as well. I was hoping. and I still hope. that 'li'ms opens the discussion for what is acceptable violence [in film]. Acceptable tneaning that it is important. That it gets you thinking.‘