Faust falls flat
Wood's latest review of Faust ("Lovers--and other demons," April 28) was correct in the enjoyable qualities of the Shakespeare &Original's production of Goethe's Faust. I found the production able and important, but found many of the adaptations essentially stunting the under appreciated humanistic qualities of Goethe's Faust, and continued to perpetuate the stereotype of Faust as a broad caricature and a puppet show, which was never Goethe's intention.
It began with the presentation of Wagner as the German accented "Do you want to touch my monkey" art fag. When here in the Triangle we are knee deep in academia there are many prototypes: the ass-kissing deferring Graduate Student, the conservative covetous possessor of knowledge closed off from real experience. This is what is really needed.
And what was up with the Dickensonian impoverishment surrounding the supporting characters? With hackneyed accents? Why not the slick seduction of hipsters in the Tavern scene? Margaret is simple, yes, but here she is depicted as a downtrodden street urchin, accordingly one expects her to be a bit more wary of the devil and the seduction of Faust. And Valentine "the soldier" portrayed as a street thug with a club with nails protruding out of it?
The most surprising adaptation is the change of Mephistopheles into a woman. It works, but makes the contract Faust signs seem to be a kind of marriage contract. Mephisto becomes not the dark shadow of Faust's striving idealism, but a jaded, jilted lover meting out brutal revenge on a younger love interest. It might have been more interesting and adventurous to make Mephisto a butch lesbian or one of the sophisticated Queer Eye guys. Think of the dialogue then with the cross dressing Martha and the magical changes made to Faust's appearance!
In all the superficial adaptations didn't bring the Tragedy of Faust into an effective present but instead strikingly changed it into the Tragedy of Margaret.
I would guess that you have probably received much reaction to Godfrey Cheshire's review of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ("The Temple of Narcissus," March 3).
While reasonable people can argue about the quality of the film, reasonable and intelligent people could not call the film anti-mainstream Catholic, or anti-any other religion for that matter. That having been stated, not too many people would accuse the Independent of publishing the reasonable or intelligent.
Clergy from the Vatican and throughout the world have recognized the quality of the film in accurately portraying scripture and Catholic tradition. Father Augustine Di Noia, an American official at the Vatican's chief doctrinal office, wrote of the film: The Passion is not anti-Semitic, as say some, but not all, of the Jews of the Anti-Defamation League, or some of the biblical scholars of the U.S. bishops' conference: in part because the actress who plays Mary, the Romanian Maia Morgenstern, is herself Jewish and the daughter of concentration camp survivors, but most of all because the power of the film lies in its capacity to seize and shake the viewer, every single viewer, and to make him feel, like everyone, himself a sinner responsible for the death of Jesus. Secondly, The Passion is not incomprehensible because the dialogue is in Aramaic or Latin: its eloquence rests entirely in the images, like the masterpieces of Michelangelo or Caravaggio, which need no translation. Thirdly, The Passion is not for the sentimental: it is a film of robust Catholic doctrine: 'For the faithful who see it, going to Mass will never be the same.'"
The Passion is a very faithful cinematic rendition of the gospel: "It is as it was."
The over-whelming majority of Catholics, evangelicals and Protestants love the film. Does Godfrey Cheshire know something about Catholicism that this mainstream, devout Catholic does not? Cheshire has made very serious accusations against Gibson. He has basically called him a religious bigot--effectively calling the admirers of the film religious bigots.
Thanks for the insight
Amazingly well written and powerful! "Blinker, death and redemption" (May 5) painted the perfect picture of this awful tragedy. In his words, "My life doesn't make mistakes. I have to deal with and learn from my actions." I tell him, and his family, in every letter how lucky I am to know him. Much respect to you, Peter Eichenberger, for writing from your personal insight and love for this man and displaying it for strangers to read.
Due to an editing error, the Front Porch item "Two roads diverged" (May 5) gave the incorrect platform number for the train to Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter series. It is Platform 9 3/4.
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