November 5, 2013
I will confess that I’m having a hard time holding it together this week. There’s a lump in my throat and a weight on my chest. Either of these things individually makes it difficult to breathe. The two together… Well… You can imagine.
But I have a different story that I forgot to tell you.
Last Friday there was a write-in to kick off this year’s NaNoWriMo. There was one table of young women who were, frankly, a tad obnoxious. Okay, they were downright loud. But they did make for some amusing/disturbing eavesdropping. Amusing for the eyerolling potential. Disturbing in that they make me concerned regarding the current state of education in this country.
“What does lith-ee mean?” one of them asked.
“Is that how it’s pronounced?” another replied.
Yes, they were discussing the word “lithe”. Not to be confused with the Lethe, the river in the underworld that makes you forget. Perhaps they had partaken of the Lethe and therefore forgot what lithe means…
But what broke my heart was their discussion of productions of Hamlet on film. One of them had been forced to watch the Mel Gibson version in her English class. (Oh, the humanity! There are far better versions than that!) But they agreed they really liked the David Tennant version. Because, you know, Doctor Who was in it. (And I just wanted to scream that Patrick Stewart was also in it. And was brilliant, too, as always. But what I love about the David Tennant/Patrick Stewart version is neither of those things. It’s Peter De Jersey’s brilliant portrayal of Horatio that won my heart.) And then one of them said something about the Kenneth Branagh version. There was brief discussion of the film before one of them spoke up.
“I couldn’t figure out why he looked so familiar, but then I realized he’s Gilderoy Lockhart!”
Yes. Kenneth Branagh, one of the great Shakespearean actors of our time. Famous for not only filming an unabridged Hamlet, but for his thrilling Henry V and sun-drenched Much Ado About Nothing. They only knew him from Harry Potter.
And if you, too, only know him from Harry Potter, do yourself a favor. It may be much ado about nothing, but it is delightful. Watch it. Now.