Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kenneth Branagh and "Hamlet"

We recently watched a DVD of Kenneth Branagh's movie version of Shakespeare's "Hamlet", known in some circles as "the eternity version" because it contains Shakespeare's play in its entirety. It does tend to go on a bit! The movie was released in 1996, but wasn't available in DVD format until last year.

I'm not a great fan of Will Shakespeare, having been put off by the force-feeding of schooldays, long before his works had a chance of being appreciated by a young Twilight on any level. I've since become fond of some of the Bard's sonnets, but have never felt much affection for any of his plays. Perhaps, as a child of England, I ought to wash my mouth out!

It's a surprise, to me, that the plot of "Hamlet" is based on an old Scandinavian legend see here, and was not, as I'd assumed, purely a figment of Old Will Shakespeare's imagination!

Due to the acting and directing skills of Kenneth Branagh, and the star-spangled cast, I thoroughly enjoyed this version of "Hamlet".

I'll not write about Hamlet's astrology - that has already been done before in other astrology blogs:
Out The Comet's Ass
to name a couple.

A look at Kenneth Branagh's astrology then. Born 10 December 1960 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Astrotheme gives his birth time as 4.50pm.

This consummate actor and talented director had no family links to the profession. His father was a carpenter in Belfast. His family moved to the British mainland because of "The Troubles" - sectarian unrest between Catholics and Protestants which erupted into a very nasty period in Belfast's history, thanks to intervention of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and, because Northern Ireland is part of the UK, the British army. At school in England young Kenneth Branagh was teased about his heavy Northern Irish accent, so set about cultivating the elegant tones we hear from him today. He decided, very early, that the acting profession was for him. His career is interestingly documented at Tiscali here.

Via The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Royal Shakespearean Company, London's West End, movies, TV, directing - he has done it all, he portrays modern characters and those from the pen of The Bard with equal skill. He's been called "the greatest thespian of his generation". Still, I can find little to illustrate what kind of man he is. Actors who worked with him on the movie "Hamlet" speak of him fondly in the DVD's special feature section. He has the reputation of being a fun person to work with, always ready for a laugh and joke, but one who can "turn on a dime" from jovial to deadly serious and focused. In his early days he was described as "ambitious and ever-demanding, not easy to work with". I guess he mellowed, as do most of us.

Sun and Mercury in Sagittarius reflect a sunny, larger than life personality, and the "always ready for a laugh" side of his nature. Saturn and Jupiter in Capricorn, with Saturn semi-sextile Sun indicate his more serious, hardworking side, Saturn being especially potent in its own sign, Capricorn.

Natal Moon in Virgo conjoins a very sensitive point in the chart - North Node of the Moon, here's his inner perfectionist. Mars in Cancer in 1st house of self adds energy and perhaps a touch of aggression to the picture, but energy tempered by sensitivity of Cancer, which is also his rising sign. The biographer at Tiscali (linked above) called him the "Kenergiser" - a nice reflection of Mars in first house!

Venus at 00 Aquarius sextiles Mercury and adds a tendency for lateral thinking to the mix - a valuable asset to an actor/director. This is echoed by Uranus (the unexpected) in Leo trining his Sun in Sagittarius, and Neptune (imagination) in Scorpio sextile natal Moon in Virgo.

It's interesting to note that there's not a single Leo planet in Branagh's natal chart. Leo doesn't have it all its own way when it comes to life in the spotlight, a potent mix of emphasis on other signs can be just as effective as a slew of Leo planets.


anthonynorth said...

I like Kenneth Branagh. He's done some good acting in the past. As for Shakespeare, reading him can be very tedious, but as many have said, he's not meant to be read - he's to be experienced.
David Tennant of Doctor Who fame is playing Hamlet at the moment with the RSC at Stratford. He's said to be excellent.

Twilight said...

Hi AN ~~~ Experienced - yes! And each generation puts their own flavour into it, rendering it more palatable. Seeing the likes of Jack Lemmon, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal....and Ken Dodd playing Shakespeare is a definite come-on in the 21st century!

David Tennant eh? Hmmmm - yes, I can see it - he can do that anguished expression well. I wonder is Billie Piper playing Ophelia by any chance? Lol!

Wisewebwoman said...

I really enjoy Kenneth Branagh and this was one of his better performances. There was a series he did of Ernest Shackleton's explorations which was also brilliant.
He was married to one of my heroes, Emma Thompson, for a while, perhaps you can do her in one of your series of women of distinction.

Twilight said...

I think I saw a brief part of the Shackleton thing, WWW - but hadn't connected it with Branagh. He's one of those actors who's always different - doesn't simply "play himself" all the time, a very good thing. Even Sir Larry Olivier tended to play himself a lot. ;-)

Emma Thompson - yes definitely a woman of distinction, I'll add her to my "to blog" list. Not for the "Superwomen" group though - but for another group, to be arranged, Duchess of Windor is on that list also - at your suggestion. :-)

anthonynorth said...

No, Billie Piper is still busy playing the prostitute in Secret Diary of a Call Girl - and, of course, marrying into one our major acting families; she's one of the Foxes now, you know :-)
Although Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek fame, is in it with Tennant. A very Sci Fi character to it this time.

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