Shakespeare and The Counselor

This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Richard L. 1 year, 2 months ago.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
    Posts Mark Topic Read  | 
  • 19 Oct 2013 at 6:57 pm #4189


    Just picked up “The Counselor: A Screenplay” and this is much different from what I’ve read previously, so I am willing to give it another shot and ignore my previous criticisms. Upon reading the first few pages, this definitely is more Shakespearean that anything else written by McCarthy. Now, I am not claiming that the whole oeuvre of Shakespeare influences this screenplay: just the Lancastrian Tetrology. A misunderstanding of time or disregard of time, the famous Shakespearean theme, greets us on page one of “The Counselor”:

    “What time is it?”
    “Two oclock.”
    “Two oclock what?”
    “AM or PM.”
    “You’re not serious”
    “Not entirely.

    This brief dialogue regarding the ignorance of comprehensive time by a drunkard(The Counselor) mirrors that of Falstaff and Hal in HenryIVth Part1(1.2 lns 1-12):

    Falstaff: Now, Hal, what time of day is it, Lad?
    Hal: Thou are so fat-witted with drinking old sack… What the devil does thou have to do with the time of day?

    Of course, Hal is a bit more harsh with his comeuppance, than Laura, but we get the idea.

    Also, time, paralleling political stability or lack of, can be found at the introduction in HenryIVth Part2(1.1 lns 8-10):
    Northumberland: Every minute now/ should be the father of some strategem. The times are wild.

    “Time” in Shakespearean cosmology links us all, and time is not only politically significant, but morally as well.

    As The Counselor thinks he can walk away from his misdeeds(61), he is incorrect to think that he is above the political, moral cosmology of our day(not mattering how protected he thinks he is, like Falstaff). I don’t know if The Counselor is Falstaffian, but there are some over-riding similarities: timelessness, close to the law, and debauchery.

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by  Mike. Reason: misspell
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by  Mike. Reason: A few more thoughts after a cup of coffee
    05 Oct 2016 at 11:33 am #8600

    Candy Minx

    This is such a great post! I didn’t see it before and just stumbled over it when I was looking through the archives. Have you done any more work on this connection?

    I’ve been writing about time, Shakespeare and McCarthy (and the Counselor) for the last three years). I’ve been working on a series of pieces…and although I didn’t see THE COUNSELOR as FAlstaffian…the temporal qualities are something I’m obsessed with. You can read something here…

    I am going to post citations shortly….but here is this:

    05 Oct 2016 at 4:46 pm #8603

    Rick Wallach

    “You’ve ruined me. I couldn’t stop coming. How do you do that – so slow.”

    Yep, right out of Titus Andronicus.

    01 Nov 2016 at 11:02 am #8668

    Candy Minx

    I found someone else who is just as obsessed with THE COUNSELOR as I am….writer Donald Glover…

    ‘”The Atlanta staff writers’ text-message group is named “Team Bolito,” after a mechanical weapon featured in Ridley Scott’s 2013 The Counselor. Glover says the writers became “super-obsessed” with a clip in which Brad Pitt’s character succumbs to the bolito, and they “watched it every day, probably three times a day.” He predicts, “[The Counselor] will probably become a classic.”’

    from Vanity Fair here (what is interesting to me about his list of important stuff, to him, is most of it is kind of retro.)

    01 Nov 2016 at 11:04 am #8669

    Candy Minx

    In case you are not familiar with Glover here is wiki page…

    05 Nov 2016 at 4:31 am #8673

    Richard L.

    I like the Shakespeare connections, of course, but here is an adjunctive suggestion for scholars of THE COUNSELOR and of Moss’s story in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN:

    Look to John O’Hara’s 1934 Appointment in Samarra.

    Originally published in 1934, John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra is still the only American novel I know that begins with a scene of a married couple—Luther and Irma Fliegler—having sex and on Christmas morning, no less. Later in the book, another married couple—Julian English, the novel’s protagonist, and his wife, Caroline—make love in the middle of Christmas afternoon. Julian has been dispatched on a disagreeable errand, and Caroline rewards him by waiting in their bedroom in a black lace negligee she calls her “whoring gown.” About their lovemaking, the novel says, “she was as passionate and as curious, as experimental and joyful as ever he was.”

    And of course the book was based upon W. Somerset Maugham’s 1933 retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian tale:

    There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

    John O’Hara selected the title against all advice because he thought it apt for the way things fall apart and how his protagonist hurls toward chaos and death. His work is full of critiques and asides on drink and addictions and the glamor of society which proves ultimately barren, worthless–much like the diamonds and other such things in McCarthy’s movie.

    In McCarthy’s movie, organized crime seems a natural part of the world–as in John O’Hara’s novel–and indeed the trashy stereotypes or archetypes appear as frequently as wolves in Jack London’s stories, so you might say that both works are a kind of cosmopolitan naturalism. Not counting the cheetahs.

    Shakespeare and naturalism? Both Appointment in Samarra and The Counselor seem to be updated versions of Richard III. Greed tempts the man into the spider’s web. The glamor-addicted blind man cannot see that life and love are gift enough, and that was Moss’s problem too. The natural world, the only world to be found, is now full of corruption.

    I’m not knocking the critical literature that has been done on the movie, only saying that there are connections here–including a science connection–beyond what has yet been written about, or at least yet published.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.