Salome and Wild Salome Review – Powerhouse Performances, Solid Writing, Drive This Adaptation

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Salome, from Salome Productions, presents the Oscar Wilde adaptation of the events leading up to the beheading of John the Baptist and how Tetrarch's indiscretion force him to pay for his glib and cavalier offer.

Directed and starring Al Pacino, Salome also stars Jessica Chastain, Kevin Anderson, Roxanne Hart, Ralph Guzzo, Phillip Rhys, Steve Roman, Joe Roseto, Jack Stehlin. The play was directed by Estelle Parsons.

The play of course as the audience is told in voice over, by Mr. Pacino, the actors will wear modern dress, the language is from Judea period, the year is 27 A.D., and is specific to the King James version of the Christian Bible New Testament account of the beheading of John the Baptist.

As the story is told, King Herod, played by Al Pacino, has imprisoned John the Baptist, played by Kevin Anderson, who maintains his commitment to calling out the sins of Herod's wife, Queen Herodias, played by Roxanne Hart, to which she is increasingly feeling exposed by the words of John The Baptist.

Herod the Tetrarch, had his brother Herodias' killed so he could marry his wife. She did marry him and according to John, she became a whore, a harlot, living in sin. On this night Tetrarch is having a great banquet, he has an emissary from the Roman dynasty at his home, and they are feasting. Fascinated by the beauty of his stepdaughter, he looks upon her unable to mask his desire; she is an object of his affection, just one, really of many, but one that unnerves her mother.


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Tonight Salome, played by a rising star Jessica Chastain, leaves the banquet, and wanders to the pit where John the Baptist is held. She toys with the officers, masking her powerlessness with pseudo power, flaunting her beauty, they comply to her request.

Soon she is standing beside John the Baptist, played by Kevin Anderson, and is immediately smitten. He is an enemy of her mother, makes her step-father question his life, he is perfect. She, not used to being turned down flirts with the man of God, who rejects her in the sharpest terms.

What follows, of course, is the well known story of how this woman, scorned, rejected and demands the one thing from Tetrarch he desired to keep.

By the night's end, his obsession turns to indifference and with that no need to be reminded of the wretchedness he issues an edict.

Salome, Mr. Pacino states, "is my attempt to merge play and film. The mediums can collide and my hope is to have them unify so that you're seeing pure theater on film. To make that hybrid effective has been my goal; to have the more naturalistic photogenic qualities of film complement the language-driven essence of theater."

Jessica Chastain, in her first film gives the best performance of her career. She has depth, color, range, power. She is obviously a talented actress and I wonder, as this her first film, where is this range now? She abandons herself to this role. She is impressive.

Al Pacino delivers with equal passion, especially in the moments he is trying to save the life of John the Baptist. He rises like a pipeline wave and delivers the final crash to the shore with trademark power. Exquistie to watch.

The play, Salome, which debuted in 2006, cast a then unknown Jessica Chastain as the role of Salome in star-making role.

The cast delivers  a tour de force performance, so very well done with a mesmerizing story and superbly acted. The story depends on the strength of the talent with no special effects or props, costumes or prop placement to enhance the time period or assist the actor in finding the moment or give the audience some additional visual reference.

Opening in New York and Los Angeles on March 30, 2018, Salome and Wilde Salome will be shown together and are a definite must see.

Wilde Salome – Insightful, Rare, A Gem

Wilde Salome, is his tribute to Oscar Wilde, the author of the Salome and how he came to take on the project. More so, Pacino is enamored with Wilde, with an apparent awe of his talent.

As a great playwright Wilde, was like a shooting star, he burned brightly and streaked across the sky, has a mid-life awakening of his homosexual preference made him an outcast. A loving father, who doted on his children, Wilde wrote a collection of Children's books and was more than in love with his children, he was devoted, they loved him unconditionally. Before he could see them grown he was outed as a homosexual and in the times, was considered an outlaw.

The authorities, who appeared to respect his artistic expression provide him the chance to flee the country. Wilde couldn't wrap his mind around running and living the life of a fugitive. Possibly because he had no reference for the treatment he would receive and what prison would do to him.

Either way he was sentenced to two years hard labor. Upon his release he was a pariah no longer able to earn money, his plays were as worthless as the paper they were written on, his lack of funds, and proper medical care caused a breakdown in his defenses and while in prison he was exposed ot an ear infection which went untreated. Most believe the infection killed him. Having went to prison over his relationship with an affluent younger man, he seemed shocked and disappointed his lover didn't visit him.

With the price of the relationship, two years of hard labor it seems a fair assumption that even love wouldn't be enough of a risk. Nonetheless, the two never reunited. Wilde visited the man in Italy, obviously life wasn't the same and Wilde returned home, lost, alone, broke with no means to earn even a pauper's keep.

In Wilde Salome, will be released in tandem with Salome, either way the documentary is more insightful, as it should be, with Pacino having the necessary conversations with Wilde to understand him as an author. Traveling, retracing his steps so to speak, we meet Wilde Scholars, Merlin Holland, Gore Vidal, Bono, Tom Stoppard and Tony Kushner adding unique insight.


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Certified Wilde Scholars accompany Mr. Pacino as he travels to Wilde's home. He intertwines the documentary with moments of the play's preparation. Wild Salome is rare, insightful which allows the audience more entre in Al Pacino's soul.

Opening in New York and Los Angeles on March 30, 2018, Salome and WILDE Salome will be shown together and are a definite must see.

 

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