Watched the first episode of the TV series “The Island”, the dramatisation of Victoria Hislop’s book of the same name. It is in twenty six episodes. Chris and Douglas were both going to work on it, they even had the contracts, when Douglas was diagnosed and that was the end of that, but hopefully not the end of a possible career in Greek television. The opening episode was very good. Just a couple of slight quibbles. I thought Theo used the out of focus shot too much, you know, person in foreground , person in background, and whoever is talking is in focus the other one not. It alternates with each speech. I also felt he tended to drag the ending out just a little bit much. It was very moving until that old ‘get on with it’ feeling set in. The series stars our friend Stelios Mainos in the lead and he truly is an actor to be reckoned with. Chris and Douglas went to work for him in a play in Athens and I went to see it. Even with my extremely limited Greek the evening flashed by with not a moment’s boredom or not understanding what was going on. Have I contradicted myself here?
Isn’t it strange that in earlier centuries the saying would have been going to ‘hear’ a play, now it’s going to ‘see’ a play? We have became (is it because one of the reasons lies with film? orally impaired. That sounds terribly p.c. but I don’t mean deaf. As far as listening is concerned attention span for many seems to get less and less with the passage of time.
In a letter to my friend Gray Lee of Covesville, Virginia, in 1984 he was a student at James Madison and with whom I am still in touch, I was complaining that actors don’t know how to speak anymore. I know when one grows older one gets hard of hearing but I have an extremely expensive state of the art hearing aid and, even with that in me lughole, I still too often can’t understand a single word. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is a good example of what I am talking about. Not only could I not hear a word of dialogue but the others in the household couldn’t either and they are younger than I and not yet hearing impaired (!) I’ve heard from others that they felt the same way over this movie. There is a paucity of voice classes in America which might explain some of it, otherwise it’s just sheer laziness or bad sound recording, like having the background music in the foreground and the dialogue vice versa. One of my students in ’84 asked to take voice lessons and I duly gave them. Sometime later he called to thank me. He was doing a summer outdoor pageant type of show and by the end of the second week he was the only one still with a voice. Unfortunately some English actors have succumbed to the disease and joined the mumble stumble school of acting. I can only make out one word in five from Bonham Carter.
Chris accuses me of wanting everyone to enunciate in the most exaggerated fashion to which my answer is; the film stars of the forties and fifties etcetera were totally audible without the necessity of over enunciation. Could you not hear every single word Bette Davis or any of her contempories said? I still have no trouble in hearing every word watching those earlier movies.
In answer to my complaint Gray said ‘They’re moving pictures, the dialogue isn’t that important’ in which case why do writers even bother with it?