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TOPIC: Shakespeare and the art of the "three-peat"

Shakespeare and the art of the "three-peat" 6 years 6 months ago #1860

Yesterday while on line I read a review of "The Godfather, Part III," and was reminded of how difficult it can be for lightning to strike twice, much less three times -- at least as far as sequels go. More recently, last summer saw the release of a number of "three-peats," including third installments of Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek, and Jason Bourne. Basically, all except "The Bourne Ultimatum" were seen as disappointments.

What did Shakespeare know about the art of the sequel (and with Henry VI, Part 3, the art of the "three-peat"), that seems so elusive to scriptwriters and directors today?
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Shakespeare and the art of the "three-peat" 6 years 6 months ago #1862

  • akfarrar
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Of course, as with all things to do with Shakespeare, nothing’s that easy.

Firstly, the sequence of writing: A strong case to be made for what we call Parts II and III being written before Part I and of them being written as companion pieces (Shakes copying Marlowe I’m afraid!).
The original titles suggest this – and also give a slightly difference historical focus – on the ‘contest’ between the Houses of Lancaster and York rather than the King.
Both are ‘stand alone’ plays – you do not need to see them in any particular order (despite current practice of linking and cutting the three Henry VI plays).
Part I was most likely a ‘prequel’ add in true Hollywood fashion with a co-writer – Thomas Nashe. The focus here is the loss of France.

The strongest element gluing the plays together is the historical narrative – which existed outside of Shakespeare and was well known through other stage plays and ‘the usual suspects’ in terms of sources.

There is also a number of rich characters – York, and Margaret for example. I think of these in terms of ‘JR’ or ‘Alexis’ of more trivial fame – you just want to know what they do this time (bit like Falstaff too).
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