Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Watched part of The Wizard of Oz last night and was blown away anew by the wealth of emotional detail in the acting, the swiftly changing skies of consciousness registering on the actors' faces -- the whole cast -- really amazing -- Judy of course, and the brilliant Bert Lahr, and the Tin Woodman and Uncle Henry and Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch and Billie Burk as Glinda and to a slightly lesser extent the Scarecrow and Aunt Em -- but really blown away by Frank Morgan in the title role, especially his early scene as Professor Marvel, how he buffaloes Dorothy into going back home, the kindness and the pity and the guile, the quick sizing up and improvising and being surprised and thinking.

Later acting styles influenced by the Method bally-hooed their own "realism," but they aren't more real, unless emotional reality is really more monochromatic than I feel it; the distinction feels more like that between "emotion" and "mood" or between "baroque" and "romantic" -- not that the great method actors are one-note-John-and-Joanies, but that they don't emphasize rapidity of emotional consciousness; and I wouldn't even say that I prefer the older style to the newer style (except maybe I do); what I would say is that I do so love that older style when astute and gifted actors played it -- good actors of any style bring physical reality to emotional life in ways that language can only evoke and describe, not embody. (Music being maybe somewhere in between acting and language -- Nietzsche's late-career critique of Wagner that he was a mere actor and therefore not to be trusted artistically.)
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