Macbeth, Throne of Blood, and the Idea of a Reflective Adaptation

Title: Macbeth, Throne of Blood, and the Idea of a Reflective Adaptation

Author: Joint author with Tzachi Zamir

Publication: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, volume 76, issue 3, pages 297–308

Date: 1 August 2018


Abstract: Adaptations have varied relations to their source material, making it hard to formulate a general theory. Avoiding the attempt, we characterize a narrower, more unified class of reflective adaptations which communicate an active and sometimes critical relation to the source’s framework. We identify the features of reflective adaptations which give them their distinctive interest. We show how these features are embodied in Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, an adaptation with a radically shifted perspective on the relation between character and situation compared to its Shakespearean source. We identify some of the artistic choices through which this response to the source is conveyed, such choices being a characteristic feature of reflective adaptations.

Bergman and the film image

Title: Bergman and the film image

Publication: Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 34, 323-349

Date: 2010


Abstract: The power of film to convey the emotions of characters is most obvious, and most theorized, in the use of close-ups of the face. But movies have many ways to communicate emotions and emotion-related states of mind. A character’s speech is one, used to celebrated effect by Ingmar Bergman in a number of films. Here I examine two instances where Bergman’s very salient intervention in the visible form of the image illuminates the mind of a character. Understanding these interventions, and in particular the differences between them, will require us to explore the pictorial resources of film in some depth. Along the way I’ll suggest that cinema works partly by co-opting the mind of the viewer into its representational system.

Agency and repentance in The Winter's Tale

Title: Agency and repentance in The Winter's Tale

Publications: Bristol, M., ed. Shakespeare and Moral Agency. London: Continuum, 171-183

Date: 2010


Abstract: Winter’s Tale begins deep in the psychological world of friendship and rivalry, jealousy and trust. It ends, apparently, with characters playing their parts in events which abandon motive for magic. Is this because the disaster and disintegration we witnessed in the first half is just too comprehensive to allow a psychologically plausible repair? The question assumes that the ending is a restitution, and so it appears. But for Leontes and Hermione, it is, at best, a partial restitution: Mamillius, their son, is dead and there will be no more children; it is impossible that they will regain their former contentment. I argue that it is not merely the shadow of the past which compromises present happiness. The psychological richness of the beginning and the thinner formality of the conclusion represent in different ways the same unresolved tendencies to fantasy, illusion and irresponsibility that enduringly characterize the person of Leontes. Forgiveness is present, but the play severely limits the hope that can be drawn from it with this thought: that virtue arises from action, not from an inactive repentance, however sincere. I begin with the nature of Leontes’ motivational state at the point where he becomes jealous. This is crucial to understanding the beginning and the end of the play