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Ashley E. writes...

Hi Greg My name is Ashley and I am the biggest fan of Gargoyles you will ever see. I cried when I found this page I have seen Gargoyle Series every single time it's been out and I miss you guys soooooo Much. I realy hope with all my heart that you guys bring it back. PLEASE!!!!! I thought that this cartoon was the best one ever made. I really want you guys to go on and on and on... How much would it cost to buy the rights from Walt Disney and start it yourself? Was it your baby from the start or was it there Idea? I read what you said about Titus how would I be able to see it and where can I get it??? Anyways I really miss you guys.. My favorite part was "The Hunter" Part 3 Where Alisa kissed Goliath, that was the best!!! Thank you for hours of absolute pleasure.

Greg responds...

Ashley,

What a wonderful post. Thank you.

Disney would never sell the rights, and if they did, lowly me could never afford to buy them. And no one's sorrier about that than I am.

Gargoyles was definitely my baby. (Still is.) Though many, many people participated in raising it to be the child that you saw on television. The basic ideas were mine, but it was very collaborative, extremely collaborative. And in any case, we were all working for Disney, so they own it, lock stock and gargoyle.

As for Titus, well I saw it in a movie theater. It's rated R (or should be) and I don't know how old you are or where you live, so I don't know if it's in your local theaters or whether you should be allowed in or not.

Eventually, it'll be on home video.

Response recorded on March 11, 2000

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Chapter IX: "Enter Macbeth"

Another episode by episode ramble. Feedback encouraged.

So here's where all that great continuity got us in major trouble.

The episodes were all designed to play in a certain order. But I didn't tell my bosses that in advance. I know it sounds sneaky, but it wasn't really. We wrote the darn things and sent them off in order. It never occured to me they wouldn't be able to come back and air in order. I mean, how could a newer episode get the jump on an older one? How could an older episode not be ready before a newer one? Then the footage came back on "Enter Macbeth".

This was the first episode not animated in Japan. And immediately we knew we were in trouble. I'm not talking about the version you all have seen. The one that aired. I'm talking about stuff you never saw. Much of the original footage we got was unusable. This wasn't about just calling retakes. This wasn't about us bitching how "Thrill" wasn't as well animated as "Awakening". This was a major disaster. So my bosses said: "Air the next one." And I responded, "We can't."

And not just because they were all designed to air in order. It was a horrible coincidence, but this episode, this episode that was unairable, was a tentpole. Yeah, if Thrill or Temptation had been reordered it would have been sad. Same with "The Edge" and "Long Way To Morning". But big deal, right? Better to get a new episode out and not make the audience deal with repeats this early in the season. (Remember, we had aired our first five episodes in one week. This was only week five. In those days, week five was considered way too early in the year for reruns.)

But this was the follow-up to Elisa's injury. It was important to us that we continue our policy of "repercussions". We put her on crutches to show that a gunshot wasn't something that was solved in twenty-two minutes. This was an ongoing recovery. If you pulled the crutches out by airing Edge next, you blew out the sense of repercussions.

But that wasn't the clincher. Of course, the clincher was the Clock Tower. This was the episode where the Gargs were "banished" from the castle and moved to the Clock Tower. That was a major shift. If we cut straight to Edge, the audience would be lost. Fortunately, Gary was convinced. In a way, I was lucky that our first crisis of order came on such a pivotal "tentpole" episode. We couldn't reorder these. So we went with reruns. But it was a lesson learned. And it would effect the way we approached the second season.

But meanwhile, we had the problem at hand. We couldn't reanimate the entire show. So we picked shots to redo judiciously. There are still some awful looking scenes. When Goliath says, "How Dare You?!" to Elisa, he looks like an Animaniacs parody of Goliath. And that sarcophogus/iron maiden thing that Goliath follows Macbeth through looks like a prop out of CHIP N DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS. (Another perfectly good series, but with a slightly different art style, if you know what I mean.) Or how about the GIANT remote that Macbeth pulls from his duster in order to summon his ship? "Enter Macbeth" is still, as aired, the worst looking episode of the first season. And that really killed Frank and I, because we both really loved this story. We were sure that the bad animation would kill any interest in Macbeth. The fact that generally, the character did catch hold of fandom's collective imagination is a true testament to the work of Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, John Rhys-Davies and Jamie Thomason. And, oh, yes... William Shakespeare.

The weak picture forced us to use a lot of little tricks to get a final cut. One thing we did, which I regret, is reuse dialogue. Elisa says "You aren't safe here" like three times. And it isn't three different takes. It's just the exact same take reprinted and reused. Lex & Brooklyn also reuse lines to get Bronx to find Goliath. That sort of thing drives me nuts.

There is one really nice moment in the animation. When Macbeth chooses his sword off the wall, the reflection effect is quite sweet. And I also like the down shot of Bronx running right down the middle of Broadway (the street not the gargoyle). I also love how Goliath makes no attempt to hide. That really spoke to the Gargoyles attitude about living among humans. They wouldn't hold press conferences, but they would not cower.

Anyway, we ran reruns. Awakenings. And obviously all five episodes on five consecutive weeks. That might have been a good thing for people who had heard about the show by word of mouth in week two or later and needed to catch up. But for anyone who had been following the show from its premiere, it was a long time to wait for new episodes. By the time we came back, so much time had passed since "Deadly Force" that we felt the need to put a "Previously on Gargoyles" at the head of the episode. Another trick I cribbed from HILL STREET BLUES. Cartoons rarely did that sort of thing. Sure multi-parters had to. But single episodes... For some reason, it made me feel very grown up. (Which only proves how immature I really am.) The "Previously" also allowed us to cut 30 more seconds of bad looking footage out of the episode. That little bonus was something I'd remember for season two as well.

HOME

As we pushed guns in the previous episode, this one is laced with the imagery and language of home. What is it? What makes it? What price is one willing to pay to keep or secure it? There are four homes depicted. Well, really five. The Gargoyles' castle. Xanatos' prison. Macbeth's mansion. The Clock Tower. And the Castle again, once it is reclaimed by Xanatos and thus becomes a very, very different place.

I tried to make sure, as much as possible, that every episode had that kind of underlying theme. (I recently tried with very limited success to do the same thing in MAX STEEL. Someone asked me once, why the one-word S-Titles for all the Max Steel episodes. They were my attempt to make me and the writers focus on the theme of each story.)

And how do all these homes turn out? Macbeth is so obsessed that he loses his home to a fire. Xanatos finally gets out of prison. (Not on Halloween by the way, or that would make the dates depicted in Double Jeopardy innacurate. Obviously, Halloween was circled on his calendar because the guy just loves Halloween. And after all, Owen specifically says in a LATER scene that Xanatos has one week left before he gets out. The wall calendar had shown only a few days.) The Gargoyles lose the castle, gain the clock tower, but realize that home is literally where the heart is. And Xanatos... well all other concerns of Grimorum and gargoyle of destruction and competition pale next to the simple pleasure of being back home.

And how many of you were suprised that the Gargoyles lost the castle? That was supposed to be another pretty shocking development. I mean, sure, Batman might lose the Batcave for an episode, but for 56 episodes? When Goliath said "We'll be back to claim that which is ours" at the end, did most of you think he'd be back next week? Next month? By the time, the gang finally did return in chapter 65, did anyone still remember Goliath's vow?

MACBETH

I've discussed this before, but Macbeth's origins (at least in terms of our series) were (ironically) an early attempt to play the notion of THE HUNTER. I was looking for someone human who could physically take on the Gargoyles as prey. Someone smart, with an agenda. We actually started with the notion of trying to create our own KRAVEN THE HUNTER type character. But it quickly moved in its own direction. Frankly, away from Kraven and more toward BATMAN. In those days, we were constantly being told that we would be accused of ripping off Batman. So Frank, Michael and I decided to create a villain who, at least in M.O. would be our Batman.

I had a semi-separate idea to add a human to the cast who was from Goliath's time. Thus creating a good thematic nemesis or opposite for him. (The key to creating a good villain, in my opinion.) But this villain would have lived through the centuries. So that he was familiar with the very latest in technology. This dove-tailed with our anti-Batman, and was also exactly how we viewed Demona. So it soon became clear to Michael and I that the two characters must be connected in some way. That suggested that he shouldn't merely be 1000 years old. He should be Scottish as well. All that was left was a name. And given my love of Shakespeare, I'm surprised it took me so long to figure it out. Our nemesis was Macbeth himself. An immortal Scottish King. What Scottish King was more immortal than Macbeth? More mortal too for that matter.

This was the beginning of countless Shakespearian references that I would either slide (or force) into the show, or that the writers would stick in knowing I was a sucker for them. And I love the little exchange between Lex & Brooklyn...

[dialogue approximate]
LEX: "Wasn't "Macbeth" the name of that play by that new writer Shakespeare that Goliath was talking about?"

BROOKLYN: "Have you read it?"

LEX: "No. Have you?"

BROOKLYN: "No. But maybe we should."

This was my little way of trying to encourage our viewers to read or at least learn about the play. If they wanted to know who Macbeth was, it wouldn't hurt to go to the primary source.

And at the time, Shakespeare was my primary source for Macbeth. This was long before Tuppence Macintyre and Monique Beatty did all their research for me for "City of Stone". Back then, the only Macbeth I knew about was Shakespeare's.

We gave him a sense of honor, but a twisted one. And we gave him a very interesting motivation. I didn't yet know the particulars, but this guy was after Demona in a major way. He had stained glass windows in his home depicting the two of them. He was the man who named her. It was all pretty intriguing stuff to me. I love the exchange between him and Goliath. Goliath is a pawn. Mac wants the queen and believes that endangering Goliath is the surest way to ensnare Demona. And how does Goliath respond? By gum, if he doesn't laugh -- MANIACALLY!! And watch how the tables turn. Macbeth is not infallible and suddenly Goliath has him on the defensive. Goliath even uses a MACE!! Great stuff.

Incidentally, we had in the script described Macbeth as wearing a thin layer of exo-armor. And Goliath was supposed to dig his claws into it. Macbeth would escape by detaching from the armor. Instead, the artists did the bit with the duster coat. But I remembered the claws in armor thing and eventually found a place for it... in HUNTER'S MOON, PART THREE.

Finally, watching the episode tonight, my five year old daughter said she spotted the Mona Lisa on Macbeth's wall. I didn't see it. But I believe her. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was the original. Too bad about that fire.


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Greg "Xanatos" Bishansky writes...

Thanks for the info on the Titus Andronicus movie. Sounds like it has a good cast. I hope it comes out near me soon. By the time you get this you'll probably have seen it, so what did you think of it?

Greg responds...

I have seen it. By now I'm sure you've read my responses to it. If not, check out the ASK GREG: Shakespeare archive.

Response recorded on March 03, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

You once gave a list here of Shakespeare plays that you especially liked because you had ideas for using them in your stories: Henry IV Part One, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest, Hamlet, and Love's Labor's Lost. Just for the fun of it, I went over that list recently to see how many of these you'd made use of in "Gargoyles", or had indicated making use of in this forum.

HENRY IV PART ONE: You mentioned that Dingo's real name would be Harry Monmouth, an aka of Prince Hal, and I definitely see a parallel between the two.

KING LEAR: Aside from the mention that I once made of the similarities between Edmund and Thailog (which may not count since you indicated in your response that it was subconscious on your part), I noticed that Xanatos quoted this play in "Vows" in his "Reason not the need" line to Petros Xanatos (interesting, since in the play, Lear quoted that line to one of his daughters - either Goneril or Regan; I can't remember which - so that Xanatos had reversed the parent/child roles here).

ROMEO AND JULIET: The quotes in the library scene in "The Journey", Queen Mab, and Terry and Sphinx as a parallel to Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: Oberon, Titania, and Puck. (No prizes there).

MACBETH: Macbeth and the Weird Sisters. (Again, no prizes there).

THE TEMPEST: You mentioned having plans to bring Prospero into "Gargoyles" at some point.

HAMLET: Ophelia's name, Elisa doing the "more things in heaven and earth" quote in "Heritage", and Xanatos's "Alas, poor Yorick" parody in "Future Tense".

That leaves just "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Love's Labor's Lost" on the list. Had you ever planned to use anything from those plays in "Gargoyles", similarly?

Greg responds...

As with everything, given enough time and episodes, it would probably be inevitable.

But no, not really. My idea for "Much Ado" is a feature screenplay, which I hope to make myself write someday. My idea for "LLL" is a stageplay, which I also hope to make myself write some day.

And incidentally, my idea for Lear is another stage play, based on a one-act play that I wrote in college (actually when I was living in Oxford). The one-act had three parts for actors: EDMUND, the MEN and the WOMEN. Me, my roommate Cameron Douglas and my then-girlfriend Peggy Gold, performed one reading of the play at Stanford in 1985. I played Edmund. Cameron played the Men. Peggy played the Women. I've always hoped that I could expand this into a full length play. I've had the structure and basic story in my head forever. It's just another one of the long list of projects that I am too enfeebled to pursue.

(I'm much less of a role model than most of you think.)

Response recorded on March 03, 2000

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LSZ writes...

What was Macbeth's exact relationship to Shakespeare?

Greg responds...

They were drinking buddies.

Response recorded on February 20, 2000

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IN SUPPORT OF EDUCATION

I don't normally approve of letting people take "cuts". Or of breaking rules I've set myself, like the one about separate topics requiring separate posts.

But Lexy is writing a paper on GARGOYLES for her HONOR'S ENGLISH CLASS, and she needed some questions answered. I'm a big fan or Honor's English classes, so I couldn't resist. But I figured you all might be interested in the answers as well. So with Lexy's permission, I'm answering them here.

Dear Greg,

Thanks SO much for helping me with my paper. I hope
to do you,and the rest of the fandom,proud:) Here are
some questions I whipped up for an interview. But If
you have anything you think would be helpful to add or
to subtract from them, please feel free to do so.

1) What do you think are some reasons ppl find
mythological creatures, such as gargoyles, intriguing

GREG'S RESPONSE: I think people like to let their imaginations run. And why limit those imaginations to what we know exists. If a concept has its own internal logic, something real in its emotions and relationships for an audience to grab a solid hold too, then there's little limit to how far-fetched the fantasy can get.

2) What started your personal fascination with
Gargoyles?

GREG'S RESPONSE: A high school trip to Europe and hearing the tidbit that Gargoyles were placed on castles and cathedrals to scare away evil spirits. The notion that monsters were used against evil was very intriguing. And this was years before we developed the series.

3) Name some of your favorite books or stories you
enjoyed when growing up.

GREG'S RESPONSE: Wow. Um. How far back to you want to go? GO, DOG, GO was an early favorite. Later, I liked the Hobbit. I liked reading about myths of all kinds. I had the D'Aulaire's GREEK MYTHS and NORSE GODS & GIANTS books and I reread those over and over. I also was always a big fan of detective fiction. I liked Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Later, Conan Doyle, some Christie, but my favorites were Hammett, Chandler and ROSS MacDonald. I loved the LEW ARCHER novels. I liked Heinlein in Science Fiction. "Requiem" is a heartbreakingly beautiful little story. I liked Mary Stewart and especially Mary Renault. I read a lot. I liked a lot of diverse stuff. I could go on for hours.

4) Did anything in particular inspire you to create
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I've spoken to this before. Gummi Bears was an inspiration, as was Hill Street Blues (my all-time favorite tv show). My on-going fascination with stone gargoyles. And the pragmatic need to be constantly feeding the Dragon that was the Disney Afternoon.

5) Do you believe that gargoyles and other statuary
such as grotesques are rooted in evil traditions? Or
are they there for the common good through harsh
example? (explain)

GREG'S RESPONSE: Neither. I think they are symbolic (or rather emblematic) of something primitive and primal. They scare away evil. Not all monsters are against us. We need our dreams and nightmares.

6) (circa) When did you start work on the television
show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: 1991.

7) When and why (circa) were you (and others) forced
to cancel 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: The question is phrased in such a way that it's difficult to answer directly. We never planned to do more than 65 episodes. That was a standard run for any show. Now in huge success, a show (like DuckTales for example) made additional episodes, and I won't deny I had hopes that we would to. But the answer came back no. Our ratings were strong. But we were a consistent second place to Power Rangers. So we weren't cancelled. But new episodes would not be made. Then ABC and Disney merged, and ABC wanted some Gargoyles. All my bosses at Disney had left and the new management wanted their own people on the show. So they made me an offer to continue that was designed to make me say no. In hindsight, I should have said yes anyway, but that's spilt milk. I left and they made additional episodes for ABC under the Goliath Chronicles banner. The ratings were not good. Neither, in my opinion, were the episodes. So it wasn't renewed.

8) What did the television show 'Gargoyles'mean to you
as it's creator?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It was and continues to be the highlight of my professional career. Nothing I've done, before or since, let me bring my vision so intact to the screen. It was very collaborative, not every idea was mine, but I still feel like that was the one show that achieved what I hoped it would achieved. I'm ridiculously proud of it, beyond all reason, really.

9) What was the central theme or message of the show ?

GREG'S RESPONSE: There wasn't just one. Among the messages was the obvious DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER moral. Plus plenty about the preciousness of life and hope. Themes of redemption are very important to me. Guilt, fear, love, trust, loyalty. You name it, at some point we through it in. Often episode titles were designed to remind both audience and writer of what the major theme in that story was.

10) How many Gatherings have you attended?

GREG'S RESPONSE: All three. Two in NYC. One in Dallas. And I hope to continue to go as long as you folks want me.

11) What is your opinion of the Gatherings?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It is always one of the true highlights of my year. How could it not be? I'm basically treated like royalty for 72 straight hours. Since that doesn't happen to a guy like me much in real life, it's pretty damn cool.

12) What do you hope ppl who watch 'Gargoyles'will
come away with?

GREG'S RESPONSE: First and foremost, I hope they were entertained. Not a little, but a lot, and on multiple levels. I hope we got the adrenaline going. I hope we touched their hearts. I hope we gave them something to think about. I hope we educated them a bit, or more likely gave them reason to want to be educated about, say SHAKESPEARE or Scottish History or King Arthur or Native American customs or whatever. I'm greedy. I want all of this.

13) What did you like most about the show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I'm not objective enough to answer this one.

14) What did you like most about working on the show
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Honestly, the autonomy. The freedom. I also had some incredibly talented collaborators and when we were in gear, we really hummed. But for sheer fun, it's hard to beat those voice recording sessions. That was the part of the job that generally was the least like work. It's where all the potentials of the show come to life and few of the problems are revealed. Just fun.

15) Why incorporate so many classic dramas and other
time honored themes within 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Purely for my own amusement. And with the hope that some people will either also be amused or will come to be amused as they discover these things. Plus it made my job easier. The story of Macbeth is so good, that adapting it practically wrote itself.

Thanks so much for all your help:)!

Lexy;)

GREG'S RESPONSE: You are welcome. Let me know if I can be of any more help.


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Leong writes...

Hi Greg, just one question; whatever did Demona think of the play Macbeth?

Greg responds...

Probably that it represented poetic justice.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

This is another question I've been meaning to ask for some time, but finally got around to. You once mentioned your feelings about "The Merchant of Venice" and Shylock here, and particularly the reasons for your ambivalent response to the play. What Shylock prompts in me, in relation to "Gargoyles", is this question.

Do you think that there is a certain similarity, in the basics, between Demona and Shylock? I see one myself, since both come from oppressed minority groups, and both became sufficiently embittered by the persecution that they and their people underwent to seek revenge. (Of course, Demona's genocide schemes automatically dwarf Shylock's demand for a pound of Antonio's flesh). I'm curious about what your own thoughts are on this.

Greg responds...

It's a great connection. I won't pretend that it was a conscious choice on my part (though wouldn't it have been cool if it was).

But I absolutely agree with your basic analysis. You call me a monster often enough and at some point as Lex put it, you get a desire to "live up to the name".

None of which translates into genocide or pounds of flesh, unless you've got some serious internal problems anyway.

But none of that precludes having some qualities that border on the noble. And I think both Demona and Shylock, for all their faults and flat-out villainy, have noble aspects too.

I think that's what makes them so fascinating.

Suddenly, I'm dying to read Harold Bloom's take on Shylock.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Shakespeare ramblings...

Seeing TITUS and having some professional free time to dedicate to a more long term project finds me re-emersing myself in the Works of Will (WoW). At least, after a fashion.

Since this ramble will knock my comments on TITUS off the "LATEST RESPONSES" page, so may want to check those comments out by visiting the "Shakespeare" section of the ASK GREG archive.

But recently, I've also been reading Harold Bloom's book, "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human". It's really an amazing work. I've been reading it while viewing various takes on ROMEO AND JULIET and HAMLET. It's really helped me to appreciate HAMLET more. In the past, I've always admired the play, but it never reached me as deeply as LEAR or R&J or MIDSUMMER or MUCH ADO or WINTER'S TALE, etc. I'm gaining a new, deeper understanding and appreciation of HAMLET now. In part from Bloom's book.

And in part, from Kenneth Brannaugh's four hour movie version, which I saw and liked in the movie theater a few years ago. Still, I'm gaining a new appreciation for it on video. So many little things to love. Such a scope. And I think I'm finally "getting" Hamlet himself.

But frankly, one of the big helps has been revisiting a film that Brannaugh directed (but did not star in) just before he took on HAMLET. In America, it's called "A MIDWINTER'S TALE". (Elsewhere, I think it's known as "IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER".) It's a little black & white film about a company of seven actors (and two support people) who put together a local production of HAMLET in order to raise money to save the church they're performining in. This is another movie I saw and liked in the theater. But seeing it again on video has been wonderful. Ophelia's song of madness has never been more poignant, then in the "rehersal" scene in this film. I can't help feeling, that this little movie was an important act of mental preparation before Brannaugh took on his big HAMLET film. Among other points of interest, the actors who play Hamlet, Claudius and Laertes in A MIDWINTER'S TALE, went on to play Laertes, Polonius and Horatio (respectively) in HAMLET.

I've also been revisiting ROMEO & JULIET. Bloom's book has some really interesting stuff about that play as well. (Though I'm convinced he gets one thing dead wrong. It's trivial, but he takes for granted that Susan is Juliet's late twin sister. His brain must be short-circuiting there. It seems beyond obvious to me that Susan was the Nurse's daughter. Born at the same time as Juliet, an infant who died shortly thereafter, making the Nurse a good candidate to be Juliet's wetnurse -- and surrogate mother.)

I've also watched the video of Baz Luhrman's version of R&J, starring Leonardo & Claire. I like it. This one suffers a bit off the big screen, but it has some great moments.

SPOILER WARNING

Romeo actually getting to see Juliet come back to life just AFTER he's taken the poison for example.

Next up, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE on video and then the ZEFIRELLI R&J. The movie that first opened the door to Shakespeare to me. (I'm still in love with Olivia Hussey.)

BTW, I realize that a lot of Gargoyles fans won't really know what I'm talking about here. ("Who the heck is Susan?") But, you are an exceedingly bright group. Maybe all this cryptic rambling will get you to check all of this stuff out. I recommend it.


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TITUS

I saw TITUS on Saturday with my wife Beth and three people who worked on GARGOYLES.

1. Fred Schaefer, who was a development associate who helped develop the show. (I think it's safe to say that Talon was sort of Fred's idea in a very early pre-Derek form. We called the character Catscan then.) Fred is currently a producer/executive/story editor at Porchlight Entertainment.

2. Monique Beatty was my assistant during the Gargoyles years. She did a lot of research for me. She's now a producer at Kinofilms.

3. Tuppence Macintyre is an old friend of mine. She also did a lot of Scotish research for Gargoyles, just as a personal favor and because it interested her. She's a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles.

Anyway, the five of us went to see TITUS in Santa Monica. The film is based on one of Shakespeare's early tragedies, TITUS ANDRONICUS. It was adapted and directed by Julie Taymor, who adapted and directed THE LION KING for the Broadway stage. So it's not surprise that the film is visually stunning. Monique didn't like the anachronistic style of the film (depicting chariots and motorcycles side-by-side for example), but it's not the first time I've seen that kind of interpretation, so it didn't bother me.

And the acting is fantastic. Anthony Hopkins (who I've loved forever -- does anyone remember the movie MAGIC?) plays Titus. He's brilliant. His lament to the stones is heartbreaking. Jessica Lange is good as "Tamara, Queen of the Goths" (now tell me that isn't a Gargoyles' character in the making). And Alan Cumming (who voiced John Castaway in "The Journey") is a nice, twisted villain as Saturninus, the Roman Emperor. But the revelation is Harry Lennix as Aaron the Moor. Amazing.

The story of Titus is not for the squeemish or for children. It's a real pot-boiler. Something just this side of a horror movie with a hard R rating for violence and nudity, though thankfully a minimum of on-screen gore.

The play was a big hit for Shakespeare in his day. But it's been dismissed as a critical flop. And I can see why. I've read it a couple times and thought it awful. Which coming from a bardolitor like myself is pretty harsh. It seemed like none of the characters were sympathetic or interesting.

But I'd never seen it performed, so I was looking forward to the movie. As usual, Shakespeare plays tens times better than he reads. In the movie, I had -- at moments -- plenty of sympathy for nearly all the characters. And the wonderful thing is that my sympathies are constantly shifting. No one is without sin. All share the blame except for Aaron's son. And Aaron himself is amazing.

Although, I can't help agreeing that Shakespeare wrote TITUS at least in part as parody of the tragic genre -- the way SCREAM was designed to be both parody and exemplar of the horror film -- I can also see flashes of KING LEAR, HAMLET and CORIOLANUS in Titus' character.

But Aaron prefigures Othello, Iago, Edmund and Shylock at least. He's a remarkably progressive character for the time. A villain, who is the only character to succeed in preserving a sliver of innocence within the world of the play.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. And I recommend it to any Gargoyle Fan over the age of 17.



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