A little bit of frippery.
I took a couple of days off work last week to try and get my history reading back on track. As I mentioned a few posts back (here) this is mainly taking me into the world of Charles II. In the midst of this I felt the need to have a break from the written word and decided to revisit the TV series “Charles II: The Power & The Passion“. While I am aware it does not count as research it was at least vaguely relevant. The downsides of dramatisations of historical subject matter are many and are usually due to the need to simplify the story for the purpose serialisation and dramatic clarity. This is usually ok if it gets to the nub of the character, or the event, but is still rankles when important events and ideas that you are familiar with get mangled and distorted (events that are often more interesting than those chosen for focus by the screen writer).
However, the benefits usually lie in the nature of the media and sometimes historical dramas can give you visual tips on the clothes, the environment, the period, that are sometimes hard to reconstruct in the unfamiliar mind from contemporary images and description. That is assuming you can trust the production values and historical guidance underpinning the programme. The performance of a character on screen can also help to challenge assumptions that you may have developed in building up an idea of a person from the sources. I’m not suggesting that anyone should base their understanding of an historical figure solely on a TV play, but who hasn’t found greater understanding of Shakespeare from seeing it performed, seeing the iambic pentameter brought to life by the performer?
There can be an unfortunate side effect of this though. And it is one I have experienced since re-watching ‘The Power and the Passion”. Sometimes, the portrayal of a character, or just the actor involved can bugger up the image you had already carefully and painstakingly built up in your head. In my case, this has happened to the image in my head of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon. Due to the quite excellent actor Ian McDiarmid’s portrayal of Charles’ advisor I am now unable to separate Clarendon from the Emperor in Star Wars (a character McDiarmid also played):
Combined with Family Guy this means I am now unable to read anything about Clarendon without doing so in this voice:
I am beset by the iniquities of contemporary culture and my own sponge brain.
Possibly less frippery and more interesting stuff later in the week.