Rewind

vlcsnap-2014-04-28-13h43m37s67

More than four months have passed since I came by “North & South” and discovered Richard Armitage. Sounds funny that “discovered”, it reminds me a joke of Roberto Benigni in his film Non ci resta che piangere , when teasing Colombo because he has “discovered America” (no big deal, because the Indians were already there): “is like if I go to Puglia (region in the south of Italy) and say “hey! I’ve discovered Puglia!” but its inhabitants are there from two thousand years!”

Therefore, more than four months have passed and I’ve had enough time to watch all his works (due also to the fact that many tv series are available in youtube) but I have not done it yet, because I always rewind and watch again “North & South”. The final scene of “North & South” is so poetical, beautiful and touching… I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve seen it, Richard and Daniela are perfect in their roles and the scene, although is completely different from the novel, is as moving as the lines written by Margaret Gaskell.

I’m so glad to have discovered Richard Armitage from John Thornton, that character has become something like a permanent basis, a safe harbour. I sail to other destinations, but I always come back to him.

Advertisements

Dislike

I’ve never liked my voice. I find it too nasal, too high-pitched sometimes, with no personality and too crazy-accents-mixed. I always have a foreign accent no matter which language I’m speaking. When speaking Italian Spanish, when speaking Spanish Italian, when speaking English… well, I just hope to have any accent but Italian or Spanish, as we are the worst English speaking people in the world.

Therefore, kind sir, I know you were trying to flatter me in order to have a discount in the car our company is selling (crisis hits and we are starting to sell at 6 what we bought at 10 one year ago) but I sincerely appreciate your comment that I have a nice voice.

Twelfth Night and Lorenzo il Magnifico

St. James' Park - London

The same concept, the uncertainty about the future, the frailty of youth, the need to enjoy life…  beautifully expressed in two different languages.

What is love? ’tis not hereafter
Present mirth hath present laughter
What’s to come still unsure;
In delay, there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, sweet-and-twenty
Youth’s a stuff will not endure

William Shakespeare, the song of Twelfth Night (XVIth century)

Quant’è bella giovinezza,
che si fugge tuttavia!
chi vuol esser lieto, sia:
di doman non c’è certezza.

Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as  il Magnifico (XVth century) “Canzona di Bacco” (Song of Bacchus): How beautiful youth is albeit it runs away! Who wants to be happy, be it so, as there’s no certainty of tomorrow. 

Did Shakespeare knew about that poem of Lorenzo il Magnifico? Maybe don’t but similarities are striken.

(Picture: St. James’ Park – London – 2012)

Richard says he can’t do voices

It was not my intention to make a blog exclusively dedicated to Richard Armitage, but, this is what we got for the moment… The reason why I have given up editing videos is for the huge amount of work they imply. I’ve needed about three hours and a half to make a minute long video. And nevertheless, it is not perfect yet. It has small deffects that cross me. I have to edit videos with a program (legally purchased) that crashes every now and then, and as you can see in this screenshot, has the tendency to make the audio peaks disappear. No comment. The second sexiest thing in “The Hobbit” extra scenes was the editing room and the computers they worked with, no doubt about it.

 Screenshot 2014-04-15 17.17.04

 

Venetia – Audiobook read by Richard Armitage (a review)

Venetia

 

I must confess that I find myself in a difficult situation writing this review, as I take the risk of not being reliable. People that have read this blog or my tumblr one lately may repute these lines as the product of simple fangirling. Nothing more far away from reality, as I am not a girl neither a fan. I don’t like this word as, deriving from “fanatic” imply the fact that the fan is something like a blind and mindless follower. I prefer to define myself an admirer.

And it is not possible to talk about the reading that Richard Armitage makes of this novel without admiration. I’ve had very sporadic experiences regarding audiobooks hearing, just small extracts, and most of times I have never been specially impressed of what I have heard, because they resulted rather monotonous and dull. I guess I can explain the reason why, comparing my memories with this work: the preparation behind it. It is evident that Richard Armitage has worked hard preparing this reading. He gives voice to, other than the narrator, fourteen different main characters, plus three or four servants. Even if in the text the characters are not described with precision, exception made of the protagonist, Venetia, they can be clearly “seen” when we hear them, each one of them with their own characteristics. We can clearly see Sir John Danny as a mature, plump overweight gentleman devoted to sherry, Lady Hendred as the upper class version of Jane Austen’s Mrs. Bennett, or Lady Steeple as a femme fatale, a mix of Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Mata-Hari.

This audiobook is a clear example of the reason why Richard Armitage’s voice has become his acting trademark. He makes an incredible use of it, offering to the hearer a wide range of feelings, and making us “watch”, with a very little imagination, what he is narrating. There are absolute comical moments; for instance, the first dialogue of Lady Danny and Sir John, or Mrs. Hendred’s speeches of desperate commiseration for her niece, cannot be heard without a burst of laughing.  There are others highly emotive and touching, as the beautiful scene between Venetia and Lord Damerel in the barn, or when he coldly salutes her before she leaves to London. And we absolutely forget that there are not two people acting, but just one. This moving moment in the narration is remarked by the music editing; the melancholic piano piece that closes the following scene, when Venetia’s brother Aubrey asks her of Damerel before she leaves to London, convey the pain Venetia feels after Damerel’s incomprehensible cold goodbye, and transport us to the following chapter, when Venetia wakes up in her uncle’s house.

This audiobook has increased my admiration for Mr. Armitage and also has made me discover the author. As this is an abridged version of the original novel that will be one of my next books to read.

 

CREDITS

Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Read by Richard Armitage

Abridged by Caroline Waight

Produced by Roy McMillan

Recorded at Motivation Sound Studios, London

Edited and music programming by Mike Shah

Naxos audiobooks (www.naxosaudiobooks.com)

Why do I buy originals (most of times)

CAM01005

Disclaimer #1 – This is just my personal opinion on the matter. I’m not making proselitism (that is, I don’t want to convince anyone to cancel the torrents program from their computer).

Disclaimer #2 – To continue with religion: who has not sinned throweth the first stone. I have a number of illegally-downloaded films, tv series or books. Although the percentage is a minority in my libraries, but I have them.

Disclaimer #3 – For the time being I can afford this expense. Should I lose my job, my good intentions go to, as we say in Italy “farsi benedire” (I don’t quite understand why being agnostic this post is full of religious references). The fact that I am the woman of the Western Hemisphere who spends less money in clothes and shoes, helps also to be Amazon’s customer of the month-year. But, regarding also the economic side of the issue, at least as far as my personal experience is concerned, those who have never ever bought a film in DVD and have about 1 TB of downloaded ones, could afford to buy at least half of them.

Once finished the disclaimers, let’s starts with the reason, as, summarising, is only one.

RESPECT. For the work of all the people involved in creating a piece of entertainment and art. It’s like if when you go to pick up your wages your boss tells you: “do you want to be paid? are you crazy?” Behind a movie, a tv series or a book there are hundreds of people that you will never see walking a red carpet but that with their work and talent have made you laugh, cry, enjoy… Are they to work for free? Entertainment is not made only by great corporations but also by smaller companies, as Naxos Audiobooks, for instance.

Ulysses (a monologue)

Blood. It’s all over. My fingers are sticky with it, I guess if I wanted to move them it won’t be easy to lose the grip on my sword: hand and handle are stuck together. So much blood. Not mine, not all of it, anyway. I feel an unpleasant itchy in my thigh, let’s see. Yes, that small river of blood it’s mine. Perhaps Agelaus wounded me, he was the bravest of them all. I’m almost forty-three, and I have undone so many[1]. Not even twenty warriors together, in all their lifetime, have slain so many people as me. Hades is waiting for me, to offer me an eternal hopeless nightmare. Yes, my hands have undone so many, but my brains many more. Screams have stopped, Thelemacus has followed my instructions. I’ve asked him to let me alone here for a moment. My old wet nurse will call when the bath is ready. Penelope can’t see me like this. Penelope. I’ve been with other women, trying desperately to find out if any of them had an embrace as tender as hers. No one had. Why did you ever put your eyes on me, Penelope? I have made you miserable, you will never be happy with me because I will never be with you, even if I am by your side. This is my curse. Our curse: yours to wait for me, mine to long for you. I will long for you even tomorrow morning when I will wake up with you in my arms. And you will wait for me again, when I will leave you once more. I know I will, that with time, maybe one year, maybe ten, I will climb up to the highest hill in our small island and watch the sea, and wonder what will be in the other side waiting for me. I will go, and I will never come back. And I will remember you as I have seen you yesterday night. When I was disguised by my goddess as an old beggar and you came to talk to me. “Tell me about my husband, stranger”. Your husband should never have been born at all.

  [1]  dietro le venìa sì lunga tratta di gente, ch’i’ non averei creduto che morte tanta n’avesse disfatta.

A line, so long, that I would never had believed death had undone so many

Dante’s Inferno

Repetitia Iuvant

Othelloiagomovie

 

In 1995 I came to Rome as an Erasmus student. As I was studying English and American literature the obvious choice of my classmates were to go to British universities but I decided to come here so I could study and learn two languages at the price of one, as many lessons were in English. During that year, I had the most fulfilling academic experience of my long years as student: an entire year studying Othello with Agostino Lombardo. In Italy, Mr. Lombardo was the most appreciated Shakespearian scholar and translator, and assisting to his lessons was a privilege and indeed the classroom was always filled with people when he gave them. I’ve learned a lot of things thanks to Mr. Lombardo but the greatest lesson he gave me was to realise that, in life, the wisest is the humblest. That year coincided with the release of Oliver Parker’s version of Othello with Lawrence Fishburne and Kenneth Brannagh, therefore, during those months I had a “Othellian-full-immersion”.

Now, almost twenty years later, I’m enjoying a Hamlet’s-month, thanks to BBC’s Drama of the Week. I’ve heard all five episodes through their website and now I’m downloading the podcasts when available. During my walks, in the subway or in the train I hear them again, and again, and again. I must confess that audio books have never appealed me very much, as I prefer reading. But it is quite impossible for me to walk and read at the same time, therefore since I commute using the public transport I have more than one hour a day in which I can’t do anything more than walk and hear. I  thought that  I could not be able to “see” the play just “hearing”, but I was wrong; and I thought also that, being Shakespearian English not the easiest thing to understand, that I will miss many things. Again, I was wrong. As Romans said, “Repetitia Iuvant”, or, “repeating helps”. Every time I catch a new detail, something that I was not aware of during the first hearings. I enjoy the play as when I heard for the first time the absolute beauty of the actor’s voices… To me that is such a gift, something  I will never get tired of. My congratulations to all the cast, the director, the composer of the music, the sound editor… all of them.

Therefore by next month I will be as prepared on Hamlet as I was in June 1996 on Othello. I just hope that I won’t forget the several “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” or the “by Heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!” as quickly as I forgot many of the things I’ve learnt with Agostino Lombardo of the Othello.

My “Hamlet’s month” will be prolonged until the end of May. On the 20th will be available an audiobook called “Hamlet”, written by A.J.Hartley. Audiobook of which I would never have known the existence if it wasn’t for “LaEffe TV”. By the way, La EffeTv is an Italian tv channel that belongs to “La Feltrinelli”, one of the main Italian book publishers; my former teacher, Agostino Lombardo, published his Shakespeare’s translations in “La Feltrinelli”. And what has to do “LaEffe TV” with the audiobook? Last December, watching it, I’ve seen North & South and Richard Armitage for the first time, I started following his career and he reads that audiobook. Therefore, if I had not made zapping once certain night of December my Hamlet’s month will have finished after downloading and hearing several times all BBC’s podcasts.  I love pulling Ariadne’s threads.

I long so much to hear the whole book, some samples have been already published and I must say that I really like what I’ve heard. Richard Armitage himself talked rather enthusiastically of it in an interview, and I rely on his opinion as a reader. As he is no longer in the position to “say yes to everything” (or at least I hope not) what he said about the book, and how passionately talked about it, awoke my curiosity.  I have defined that work as a top-quality-fan-fic. Should the authors read me, by one of the many internet’s mysterious ways, are gently prayed not to take that as an insult. Even though some times that term is used in a denigratory way, the authors have done the same thing fanfics writers do: try to answer the thousands of unanswered questions that you pose when watching or reading something you like. What happened before? And after?  What was doing that character when he was not in stage? That is, to fill in the blanks, and even to twist the character’s psychology or resurrect the dead. Of course, the authors are more prepared that the average internet fan-fic writer (including myself), they are professionals and what they have created is really good. Although I admit that a high percentage of the fan-fic in internet is a real crap (including my own), please allow me to say the same for some of the books present in my library: they are an insult to the forests that have been cut down to print them. At least I don’t have any tree in my conscience.

And, to end the post, as far as Richard Armitage’s reading is concerned… I bow to thee, sir. I am sincerely speechless. It takes a real good actor to make a reading like that.

EDIT April 6th: it seems I will just have a single Hamlet podcast. RADIO 4 Drama of the week podcasts just a single episode per week of any of the dramas aired. I will console myself hearing John Hurt as old Dante Alighieri’s in the Inferno of The Divine Comedy… Alas! I suffer so much!