Akira Kurosawa and Kentaro Miru are not the only Japanese writers to be influenced by William Shakespeare. One of Japan’s most popular contemporary writers, Gen Urobuchi aka Gen UroButcher. Urobuchi has written critically acclaimed series such as “Madoka Magica”, “Fate/Zero”, and the 24th season of the long running live action show “Kamen rider”. Many of his works seem to have some Shakespearean influence in them
His 2012 series “Psycho- Pass” contains many allusions to Shakespeare. The eighth episode “And then, silence” is a reference to Hamlet’s last line in the play “The rest is silence” (Shakespeare 166). At one point the main villain of the series Makashima reads a passage from “Titus Andronicus” (*Warning* the video link is very graphic).
In “Kamen Raider Gaim” (The season he wrote for) One of the main characters Mitsuzane sees the spirit of his older brother Takatora (who’s in a coma). The spirit of Takatora pleads to Mitsuzane to redeem him by defeating the person who put him in a coma. The scene bears striking similarity to the ghost of Hamlet’s father telling Hamlet to kill Claudius, the person who killed him.
“Madoka Magica” (A personal favourite of mine) featured the story of young girls fighting witches who are spreading chaos. The first witch is named Gertrud, the same name as Hamlet’s mother. When one of the main characters Kyoko turns into a witch her new name becomes Ophelia the same name as Hamlet’s lover. Interestingly both Kyoko and Ophelia lose their fathers during the story.
Gen was the head writer for 2012 anime “Fate/Zero” (Another favourite of mine). “Fate/Zero” is part of the huge multimedia “Fate” franchise. The series revolves around the Holy Grail war, where mages with the aid of a powerful figure from fiction or history fight each other in a battle royal to obtain the grail and get one wish granted. In one of the interpretations “Fate/Apocrypha” (a light novel) Shakespeare appears as a servant of the Caster class. He uses magic to power up his master and can escape from almost any situation. In the story he usually stays out of fights preferring to observe them to see how they turn out. He was also very interested in how his plays are represented in the modern world. At one point he goes to a bookstore to purchase a modern translation of his works. He was also very emotional, he became depressed when the main character Shirou did not know who he was and preceded to educate Shirou on his works. It’s important to note that Urobuchi did not write “Fate/Apocrypha”, he has only written for “Fate/Zero”. Still though, it’s an interesting connection that a writer who seems to be influenced by Shakespeare would be involved in a series that features the Bard.
Like Akira Kurosawa and Kentaro Miura we once again see a strong Shakespearean influence in one of Japan’s most accomplished writers.
Characters (n.d.) retrieved July 22 2015 from Puella Magi wiki https://wiki.puella-magi.net/Characters
Fate/Apocrypha (n.d.) retrieved July 21st 2015 from Type Moon Wiki http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Fate/Apocrypha
Crowther, John, (Ed.). (2005). No Fear Hamlet. Retrieved July 17, 2015, http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet/page_332.html
The fated two final battle (n.d.) retrieved July 20th 2015 from the Kamen Rider Wiki http://kamenrider.wikia.com/wiki/The_Fated_Two%27s_Final_Battle!
One of the longest manga series and its anime (Japanese cartoon) counterpart “Berserk” have striking similarities to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. The story focuses on a fictional mercenary group “The Band Of The Hawk” and its two most powerful members, the leader Griffith and his second in command Guts. The story shows the mercenary group growing from a small group of fighters into a powerful force that has the ability to end wars. Early on in the story the band fights the demonic monster Zodd. Similar to the witches’ prophecy in “Macbeth” Zodd warns Guts and the rest of the group that Griffith will kill them all. “Here is a word of warning… No a prophecy If you can said to be a true friend to this man…Then take heed… For when his ambition collapses… Death will pay you a visit!! A Death you can never escape!!.” (Miura P. 201-202 1993).
Years pass and Griffith becomes obsessed with becoming king of the country they live in. He is willing to go to any cost to secure this position. This includes assassinating royal officials and seducing the king’s daughter. The turning point in the series is when Griffith conducts a demonic ritual in order to join the God hand, a supernatural group of powerful demons who will grant their members incredible powers. He sacrifices his entire mercenary band in the ritual just as Zodd had foretold. Guts manages to survive the ritual (minus an arm and eye) and swears to kill Griffith.
“Berserk” is well known for its theme about the cost of ambition. Similar to Macbeth Griffith desires power regardless of the price. Both he and Macbeth are willingly to kill their closest friends in order to gain more power. Guts is similar to Macduff in that he is a foil to Griffith. Guts is a loner preferring to solve his problems alone while Griffith is always using others to achieve his plans. Guts fights aggressively like a viking; Griffith fights in an elegant style similar to a musketeer. Even their names contrast each other, Griffith is called the white hawk while Guts is the black swordsman. Their relationship is the same (albeit reversed) as Macduff and Macbeth. Macduff is referred to as “Some holy angel” (Shakespeare P. 46) while Macbeth is referred to as “A hand accursed” (Shakespeare P. 48-49).
Kentaro Miura the author, of “Berserk” has never talked about Shakespeare or “Macbeth” in interviews so I may just be reading too much into the story. However, it’s hard not to draw some similarities between “Berserk” and “Macbeth”.
The official english version of the “Berserk” manga is available from Dark Horse comics. The “Berserk” anime is in a strange grey area rights wise. It was originally owned by Media Blasters but they dropped the franchise in 2013. At this point your best bet is to try and purchase it through Amazon or eBay. The “Berserk” movies are available from Viz media
Miura, K. Berserk October 13 2004 (Johnson, D. Trans) Milwaukie OR: Dark Horse Comics (Original work published March 31 1993)
Akira Kurosawa is considered Japan’s greatest film director. Film giants such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese have all acknowledged the impact this director has had on their films. When looking at Kurosawa’s movies it becomes apparent that Shakespeare had a profound influence on him in terms of storytelling.
His 1957 film “Throne of blood” retold the story of Macbeth set in a feudal Japan (i.e. Samurai instead of knights, feudal lords instead of kings etc.) with elements of Japanese Noh theatre (placing importance on stillness and silence for dramatic tension). The guardian’s film critic Derek Malcolm (1999) claims, “It remains a landmark of visual strength, permeated by a particularly Japanese sensibility, and is possibly the finest Shakespearean adaptation ever committed to the screen.”
His 1960 film “The bad sleep well” told a story similar to “Hamlet” set in a post World War 2 corporate Japan with elements of film Noir.
Finally, his 1985 film “Ran” is an adaptation of “King Lear” once again set in feudal Japan. To quote “New York Times” film critic A.O Scott (2009)
“The story in Ran is suggested by Shakespeare’s King Lear. An aging warlord usually accompanied by his fool decides to split up his land and his castle among his three sons. And as soon as he does this all hell breaks lose”.
In 1989 Akira Kurosawa received the Lifetime achievement award form the Academy of arts and sciences (The Oscars). On March 23 2009 Anaheim University established an online course for digital film making. The course was named The Akira Kurosawa School of Film in honour of the director.
Shakespeare has been retold and adapted in many ways by different cultures all over the world. Many have been enjoyable none of them have come close to matching Kurosawa’s brilliance.
Malcolm, Derek (March 4th 1999) Akira Kurosawa: Throne of Blood. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YIN7O-PmWY
Scott, A.O (April 7 2009) Ran- Critics Picks-The New York Times. [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLbSKfkpGBg
William Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest writer in the western road. Over the length of his career he wrote 37 plays and 154 poems/sonnets. His plays covered a variety of themes and topics: the beauty of love in “Romeo and Juliet”, Spouse conflict in “Taming of the shrew” (which is playing at the Stratford theatre festival), the cost of ambition in “Macbeth”, the problem of uncertainty in “Hamlet” (Also playing at Stratford) and many others. His themes have influenced thousands of writers in the western world. Disney’s “The Lion King” is a modern reimagining of “Hamlet”, “Moby Dick” bears striking resemblance to “Macbeth”and the critically acclaimed British graphic novel “V for Vendetta” contains many references to Shakespeare. The main character’s first line in the comic is a direct quote from macbeth (Act 1 Scene 2) “The multiplying of villainies of nature do swarm upon him” (Moore 11) It should come as no surprise that the greatest English playwright has had an incredibly powerful effect on the English-speaking world. It is not just the western world however; Japan has also been influenced by the bard’s plays.
Japan first learned about Shakespeare from European tradesmen in the mid to late 1500’s. Specifically in 1600 when William Addams the captain of the Dutch merchant ship de Liefde entered the country. In addition to being a skilled shipbuilder Addams was also a contemporary in Shakespeare. He used the plays to help explain Western society to the Japanese. In 1841 high-ranking official Shibukawa Rokuzo translated Lindley Murray’s “English grammar” from Dutch to Japanese. This allowed the country to finally read and understand English writing and thus Shakespeare. His plays became very popular to the Japanese who were eager to learn more about the Western world after 200 years of seclusion. His plays began to be published in newspapers and magazines. His most popular plays were “The Merchant in Venice” and “Julius Caesar”. “The Merchant in Venice” was popular due to the trial scene; the Japanese were very interested in using western laws to modernize their own legal system. “Julius Caesar” was the first complete word for word translation of Shakespeare published in Japan (1883). This story was popular due to the political turmoil of the play mirroring the political state of Japan at the time. As one of the editors said “The plot is timely, for Shakespeare writes about the fall of corrupt governments” (Takemura 1933 cited in Kawachi p 3).
To quote Yoshiko Kawachi a scholar on Japanese translation of Shakespeare “ Japanese people learned not only English dramaturgy, poetry and literature but also European thought, culture and manners from his plays and poems. Thus Shakespeare, a national hero of England, became a cultural hero in Japan.”(p. 2) Shoyo Tsubouchi (the man called the father of Japanese modern literature) translated the entirety of Shakespeare’s works into Japanese between 1909-1928.
Kawachi Yoshiko Shakespeare and Japan retrieved from http://dspace.uni.lodz.pl:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11089/1486/07-kawachi.pdf?sequence=1
Lloyd, D. & Moore, A. (1988) V for Vendetta New York. NY: DC Comics
Abstract: This is an assignment I did for school a few months back. I figured I put it up here.
Fox News is an American news program created in 1996 by Rupert Murdoch. The program airs in Canada on several stations. These stations include Bell TV, Cogeco, Eastlink, Manitoba Telecom services, rogers Cable, SaskTel, Shaw cable, Shaw Direct and TELUS TV. Fox News has faced many controversies in the past over allegations of right wing bias and for fabricating information to better serve their political interests.
One story Fox News aired in January caused another one of these controversies.
On January 7th 2015 a terrible shooting took place in Paris where terrorists attacked the infamous French political satire magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and killed the cartoonists who worked at the magazine. The terrorists claimed to be doing this in the name of Islam since the magazine had depicted numerous cartoons of their prophet Muhammad. Fox News like most news organizations covered the attacks and the aftermath of the attacks for several days. However unlike other news organizations Fox News continued to discuss what they called “No-Go Zones” in France. Fox News claimed these were areas inhabited by young unemployed Muslims who abide by Sharia law instead of French laws. Fox News included a map that highlighted these “No-Go Zones”. During that same time of the “No Go Zones” story Fox news also broadcast a 7min feature of anchor Jeanine Pirrot saying that the best way to stop radical Muslims was to arm other Muslims and have the two fight it out to the death http://www.vox.com/2015/1/12/7533159/fox-news-pirro-rant
Fox news continued to talk about the “No-Go zones” for several days It was mentioned by Guest Nolan Peterson (credited as a conflict Journalist & Military Veteran) Sean Hannity (Conservative radio host) Greg Palkot (London correspondent for Fox News) Elizabeth Hasselbeck (Fox News personality) James Rosen (Washington correspondent) Kathleen MacFarland ( National Security analyst) Steve Emerson (National security pundit) Among many others. The phrase “No-Go Zones” was used by Fox News approximately 45 times within a span of 7 days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfLf6tO7vSA (starts at 5:31).
On January 14th the French television show “Le Petit Journal” (a program similar to John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”/ John Stewart’s “The Daily show”) investigated these “No-Go Zones” by sending reporters to the same areas that were highlighted on Fox News’s map. http://www.canalplus.fr/c-emissions/c-le-petit-journal/pid6515-le-petit-journal.html?vid=1197745
The reporters did not find anything like Fox News had mentioned. Instead of young unemployed Muslims promoting terrorism they instead found multi-cultural communities that were accepting of all races/religions. After the section the host of the show Yann Barthes urged his audience to send messages to Fox News via Facebook, twitter and email with the message “Verify your information. You are wrong about the “No-Go Zones” in France.” On Jan 17th Fox News apologized for the maps they referenced. They admitted the maps used were incorrect; the video was eleven seconds long. Then on Jan 20th they made a second video apologizing for their reporting on “No-Go Zones” admitting that their information was not credible, this video was fifty-six seconds long. The videos containing the claims about “No-Go Zones” however are still available for viewing on Fox News’s website.
I contacted one of my cousins who lives in France and asked her about these areas and footage of riots used by Fox. She told me that the broadcast was “all lies the images come from 2005”. The images were taken from a 2005 riot that took place in French suburbs. The riots were sparked by the death of two non-white French teens but the longterm cause was the result of the disconnect felt by non-white French youth in suburban areas and the racial profiling many of them face from police (not very different then the racial profiling that goes on in the U.S.).
Canadian Code of Ethics.
As mentioned above while they are an American broadcaster Fox News still airs on Several Canadian channels and is therefore susceptible to the Canadian broadcasting laws and regulations from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the Canadian Broadcaster Standards Council (CBSC).
The Fox News broadcast violates article 1 of the RTNDA: Accuracy. Article 1 (accuracy): “Electronic journalists will inform the public in an accurate, comprehensive and fair manner about events and issues of importance.” As mentioned before the French television show “Le Petit Journal” investigated these “No-Go Zones” and found the claims of an impoverished terrorist promoting culture to be false. Fox News later admitted that they were wrong in their broadcasting. They brought on people who hey claimed to be experts but were not and provided fabricated information.
The Fox broadcast also violates Article 2 (Equality) Electronic journalists will report factors such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability only when they are relevant. The stories reported by Fox News contain numerous references to people of the Muslim religion and people who come from the Middle East. This would have been fine if the information is relevant to the story. The information would have been relevant if the “No-Go Zones” were true. But as stated before the claims made are false meaning that there is no reason for Fox to make reference to a specific race/religion. The broadcasts are directly targeting Muslims with degrading bogus facts.
The broadcast also breaks the third article in the RTDNA: ARTICLE THREE (Authenticity)
“Electronic journalists will present news and information without distortion. Interviews may be edited provided that the meaning is not changed or misrepresented. Electronic journalists will not present news that is rehearsed or re-enacted without informing the audience. Newsrooms should take steps to ensure the authenticity of all video and audio, including news material acquired from the public, freelancers and other sources before disseminating/broadcasting it. Editorials and commentary will be identified as such.” As my cousin pointed out to me the maps and photos and footage used were not taken from the modern day “No-Go Zones” They are taken from the 2005 French riots which were about the concerns of youth unemployment in poor French communities. This breaks the authenticity of the program as indication is given that the media used is old.
The Fox broadcast violates article seven of the RTDNA: ARTICLE SEVEN (Corrections)
“Errors will be quickly acknowledged and publicly corrected on all platforms.” Fox News did apologize on air for the mistakes they made about the “No-Go Zones” and the map of said areas. However, the videos where Fox makes the claims about “No-Go Zones” are still available to watch on Fox News’s website. Fox News should remove all videos that reference the “No Go Zones” from their website.
Finally the broadcast violates ARTICLE FOURTEEN: (Respect and Enforcement)
“Members of the RTDNA will respect the provisions of this Code and the RTDNA itself will take all reasonable steps to encourage that all electronic journalists in Canada are aware of and observe the Code, even if they are not themselves members of the RTDNA.” From looking at the numerous breaches the Broadcasts have made Fox News clearly made no attempt to follow the RTDNA Standards. Fox News is not a member of the RTDNA but as the article states is still expected to promote good ethical journalism. These broadcasts break the Accuracy, Equality, Authenticity and corrections codes of the RTDNA. It makes no attempts to follow the codes whatsoever.
It is not only the RTDNA, the Fox broadcast also violates several regulations from the CBCS. The broadcast violate clause 6 of the CBCS: Full,Fair and Proper Presentation.
“It is recognized that the full, fair and proper presentation of news, opinion, comment and editorial is the prime and fundamental responsibility of each broadcaster. This principle shall apply to all radio and television programming, whether it relates to news, public affairs, magazine, talk, call-in, interview or other broadcasting formats in which news, opinion, comment or editorial may be expressed by broadcaster employees, their invited guests or callers.”
Fox News’s staff is allowed to voice the concerns they have about a growing Muslim population in western countries. However they must make these opinion pieces separate from the rest of the news broadcast. The degrading statements about Muslims in Western countries are made during Fox News’s regular broadcasting program. No indication is made between the statements based on official facts and those that are opinion based.
The Fox broadcast also violates clause 7: Controversial public issues “Recognizing in a democracy the necessity of presenting all sides of a public issue, it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to treat fairly all subjects of a controversial nature. Time shall be allotted with due regard to all the other elements of balanced program schedules, and the degree of public interest in the questions presented. Recognizing that healthy controversy is essential to the maintenance of democratic institutions, broadcasters will endeavour to encourage the presentation of news and opinion on any controversy which contains an element of the public interest.”
In broadcasts dealing with controversial issues time shall be given to both sides of the story to express their thoughts. Clearly the Charlie Hebdo shooting was (and still is) a controversial issue so time needs to be given to people on many different sides of the argument to express their thoughts on the issue. Fox interviewed several people while covering the “No-Go Zones”. However, the people interviewed were all people who agreed with what many of news anchors were already saying: The shooting was a result of the growing Muslim population in the west. At no point did Fox invite someone from France or a member of the Islamic community on their program to defend themselves.
The Fox broadcast violates the CRTC code of “Equitable Portrayal” In broadcasting. Fox News breaks several of these conditions.
Part2: Human rights: “Recognizing that every person has the right to the full enjoyment of certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, material status or physical or mental disability.” The broadcast by Fox News violates this by making several comments in their broadcasts in regards to race (specifically people from the Middle East) and religion (Muslims).
The broadcasts also breaks the third part of the code about negative portrayal: “In an effort to ensure appropriate depictions of all individuals and groups, broadcasters shall refrain from airing unduly negative portrayals of persons with respect to race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability. Negative portrayal can take many different forms, including (but not limited to) stereotyping, stigmatization and victimization, derision of myths, traditions or practices, degrading material, and exploitation.” Clearly the Fox broadcasts violated this part of the code. Degrading comments are made throughout the broadcasts saying that the Muslims in these areas are “unemployed” and promote “terrorism
The broadcasts violate the fourth part of the code Stereotyping: “ Recognizing that stereotyping is a form of generalization that is frequently simplistic, belittling, hurtful or prejudicial, while being unreflective of the complexity of the group being stereotyped, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no unduly negative stereotypical material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.” While the broadcasts don’t directly come out and say that Muslims are terrorists you defiantly get that feeling after watching the broadcast several times. They are promoting a negative stereotype of a minority group, Muslims represent 7.5% of Frances population based on a Pew research study.
After looking at the Canadian broadcasting standards we can see that Fox News breaks many of the most vital codes. Specifically they break codes regarding accuracy, protecting minorities, being unbiased, making corrections, and giving representation to both sides of a controversial issue (along with many more). Fox News has apologized for the broadcasts but the news agency should also remove all videos that mention the “No-Go Zones” from their website as all the information they present is false. The News agency made several consistent breaches of the Canadian Broadcasting codes within a short period of time on a very controversial story (Charlie Hebdo shooting aftermath). Unless Fox News makes several changes to its broadcasting ways the broadcaster should be removed from Canadian channels. It is unacceptable to air broadcasts that break so many codes of conduct.
“Hamlet” is undoubtedly one of Shakespeare’s most well known works. It easily ranks amongst his most popular right up with “Romeo and Juliet” and “Macbeth” (or the Scottish play for those of you who actually believe the old curse). Its popularity is in part due to its powerful themes about uncertainty, taking action and the influence a corrupt government can have on its people.
The first theme is the problem of uncertainty. Hamlet is unsure if the ghost he saw was really his father, he is unsure whether the ghost is telling the truth about the murder and he is unsure how to kill his uncle. The play brings up the troubling fact that many aspects in our lives are built on assumptions. This is a problem that has become more problematic in the technological age we live in. With computers and communications technology we can communicate and make plans faster than ever before. However despite all the new technological tools we have, we still face the inevitable problem of uncertainty, nothing can be certain. Most recently in United Kingdom elections all the polls showed the Labor party and the Conservative party to be tied in the polls. The election came and went on May 7th with result being a major win for the Conservative party. Despite what the polls showed the Conservatives beat the Labor Party by almost 2 million votes. Clearly the polls were wrong.
The chart on the left reflects the opinion poll of the U.K. days prior to the election. The chart on the right represents the actual results. The conservatives won a clear majority despite the polls.
Journalist Markham Nolan gave a brilliant Ted Talk about the importance of separating fact from fiction in our new digital age. To quote him
“We have algorithms that are smarter than ever before, we have computers that are quicker than ever before. But, here’s the thing. Algorithms are rules they’re binary, they’re yes or no they’re black or white. Truth is never binary truth is a value truth is emotional its fluid and above all its human. No matter how quick we get with computers, now matter how much information we have we’ll never be able to remove the human from the truth seeking exercise cause in the end it is a uniquely human trait.“ – (Nolan, Nov 2012)
In other words we can’t really on computers for everything. Even with all the tools in the world the truth is still uncertain without proper judgment.
This leads into the second theme of the play, which is the problem of action. Due to the uncertainty in his life Hamlet is constantly wondering how he should act. When Hamlet has the opportunity to kill his uncle early on in the play he hesitates because his uncle is praying. Hamlet questions if killing his praying uncle would send the wicked soul to heaven. “To take him in the purging of his soul when he is fit and seasoned for his passage? (Shakespeare Hamlet Act 3 Scene 3 page 4). Hamlet wants his uncle to go to hell so he decides to kill him later “My Mother stays this physic but prolongs thy sickly days. (Shakespeare Hamlet Act 3 Scene 3 page 4). The play looks at how conditions and people affect our actions. Laertes swears that he will seek revenge on Hamlet. Despite this he is manipulated by Claudius and finds himself another pawn in the corrupted politicians schemes. The Japanese animated show “Psycho-Pass” featured a very similar theme. The series itself makes many reference to Shakespeare’s works including “Hamlet”. The title of the eighth episode “And then, silence” is a reference to Hamlet’s last line in the play ”The rest is silence” (Hamlet Shakespeare, Act 5 Scene 2, page 17) “Psycho –Pass” takes place in a world where a computer system can called the sibyl system can read the emotional state of all people and judges them based on their state. The police’s job is to take out people whose emotions are reaching dangerous levels that threaten society. The problem is that the system does not take the causes for their emotions into consideration. The first episode focuses on a case involving a rapist and his victim. The sibyl system determines that the rapist is too dangerous for society and the police kill him. The victim however is also considered dangerous due to her emotions skyrocketing to dangerous levels because of post-traumatic stress. The police agent must make the decision on how to deal with the woman. The agent wonders whether she should cooperate with the sibyl system and kill the woman or spare her because her emotionally spike is just the standard post-traumatic stress caused by rapes. Her actions are influenced by the computer system in addition to her own human experience and thoughts. The question of how the detectives should act given the unique circumstances of crimes and human emotions are examined constantly throughout the series.
The most interesting connection between “Hamlet” and our modern culture is the theme that a government ‘s condition is linked to the condition of the country as a whole. Shakespeare seems to be telling us that a corrupted government leads to a corrupted society. In the beginning of the play the guards (who represent the populace of Denmark) are nervous because the king has died and the power is being sent to a new politician. The play itself says “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” (Shakespeare Hamlet Act 1 scene 4 page 5). The play continues to make hints that Denmark is in disarray as the government becomes more and more chaotic. It is not until the end of the play when all of the ruling classes are killed and a new one brought in that stability finally comes to the country. It’s easy to see this theme in our modern day culture; the United States is a perfect example. Between the 2013 government shut down, the 2011 debt ceiling crisis and all the gridlock, Washington has become a chaotic place. Many view the U.S. government as nothing more than a group of angry old people shouting at each other. That same kind of animosity has made its way down to the masses and has caused a similar effect. If you look at the big news stations in the U.S. very little news is reported. In an interview on Q radio Shane Smith co-founder and host of the Emmy and Peabody award winning news show Vice stated “Look at the States, there is no news anymore. Its just the right yelling at the left and everybody making fun of everybody”. (Smith, May 30th 2012) In 2009 renowned journalist Charlie Rose was involved in a summit to try and get Bill O’Reilly (a politically right wing news anchor) and Keith Olbermann (a politically left wing news anchor) to stop insulting one another
Hamlet is not the only story to focus on how a corrupt government creates a corrupt society, the Japanese comic book “Akira” also looked at this issue. In “Akira” the government is conducting inhumane experiments on its citizens in secret. This results in a society filled with student protests, youth gangs, corrupt arguing bureaucrats, drug abuse and coup d’états. The conflicts end when the government is brought down with the main characters promising to rebuild a better country. The comic ends with the new leaders driving off into the remains of the city with the sun shining down on them.
The best modern day representation of “Hamlet” is “Disney’s The Lion King”. The movie follows “Hamlet” almost to a T. The comedy/education YouTube series “Earthling Cinema” aggress. “The movie is loosely based on the movie “Hamlet”, directed by William Shakeshack. Loosely based in the sense that it has the exact same plot and characters. A king murdered by his brother? Check. The son of the murdered king visited by the ghost of his father? Double check. Two comic foils who aid our hero by helping him chill out? Check please.” (The hidden meaning of the Lion King – Earthling Cinema, Wisecrack. July 5th 2015).
The Lion King also looks at the problem of corrupt government affecting the land. When Scar (the evil brother) takes control of the kingdom it transforms from a lush savanna to a grey wasteland. This is similar as stated before to how in “Hamlet” Denmark is in a state of chaos as a result of its corrupt government.
You can catch this legendary play at the Stratford Festival until Oct 10th