[Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

Nancy Charlton nbcharlton at comcast.net
Wed Jul 20 16:09:55 EDT 2011


A couple months ago I saw an excellent production of John Ford's 
"Tis Pity She's a Whore."  In telling someone about it later, I 
related how I was first and foremost gobsmacked by the poetry, by 
such gorgeousness given to characters amoral, self-serving, 
unable to cope -- caught in social conventions mostly arbitrary 
and at times callous.  People psychologically delusional on 
several levels.  I spoke of the courage of the producer in 
mounting a play concerned with incest, that unmentionable sin 
people are reluctant to discuss.  I spoke of how the director and 
the actors evoked a dawning realization by the audience of the 
social breakdowns this brings on, of the personal tragedies of 
the brother-sister couple, of the indifference of State and 
Church as long as order was upheld, an order that breeds a 
mindset that makes the title become the witticism that ends the 
play as a horrific joke.

After all this, I remembered as an afterthought what to many 
would be the only memorable scene: nude intercourse, the full 
Monty right there on the stage of this little theatre holding 
about 100 people.  This was inevitable in the play's logic, and 
served mainly to accentuate the dreadfulness of the situation.  
More shocking to me were the arbitrary, brutal stabbings, done 
without any sign of regret or remorse.

This nudity in this play was not the unselfconscious nudity of 
Adam and Eve.  Indeed, it was more like nakedness, naked bodies 
corresponding to naked souls.  I agree with Prof. Machacek that 
the Pl movie is more likely to come closer to this condition, to 
nakedness (with ensuing prurient tittering) than nudity (all but 
forgettable in the maze of conflicts and overwhelming poetry.

Nancy Charlton
(May Oregon send you some rain in exchange for a little summer?)


On 7/20/2011 12:13 PM, richard strier wrote:
> Absolutely right about the necessity for non-self-conscious nakedness.  After
> all, PL is one of the great pornographic works of all time.  The audience might
> begin by leering and tittering, but, as at nude beaches, the lack of pretense
> would affect the experience after a while.  And if we titter, so what?  We're fallen,
> they're not (for most of the Eden scenes).  And sometimes, as Milton thought, we
> can transcend our fallenness.
>
>
>
> ---- Original message ----
>> Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 13:12:22 -0400
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on behalf of Gregory Machacek
> <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu>)
>> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
>> To: John Milton Discussion List<milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>>
>> The article ends with the following witticism: "Casting for Adam and Eve
>> wasn’t immediately announced, but one assumes that costumes won’t be a
>> problem."
>>
>> As I've anticipated this movie, I've thought that it will be precisely Adam
>> and Eve's (lack of) costumes that will be the film's biggest problem.  To
>> be done properly, the film would need its two leads to be naked, with no
>> self-consciousness about the fact, for large stretches of screen time--and
>> an audience that can observe such full frontal nudity without leering or
>> tittering.  I don't believe it can be pulled off in a Hollywood
>> blockbuster.
>>
>> Austin-Powers-esque hiding of private parts behind items in the foreground
>> will quickly become tiresome.
>>
>> Of course, all previous reports about the movie suggest that it focuses on
>> the war in Heaven, so the whole "man's first disobedience" plotline will
>> probably be reduced to an insignificant appendage.
>>
>> Greg Machacek
>> Professor of English
>> Marist College
>>
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