Volume 93, Issue 1

Friday, May 14, 1999


Hale an OK author

New Mummy movie is a tightly wrapped package

One step forward, two steps back

The Cranberries sour in Toronto

Soundtracks to summer

One step forward, two steps back

Folk icon Bob Dylan once incoherently mumbled, "The times, they are a changin'." These words have remained timeless since they first blared from the speakers of more than a few Volkswagen vans.

To say modern pop culture is moving forward is a colossal understatement. With the millennium upon us, futurism is no longer limited to academia and the writers of Barbarella. Now lurking in every cultural nook and cranny are visions for the year 2000.

Film, in many ways, follows faithfully behind this trend. In today's movies, however, the out-of-this-world technologies which traditionally brought science fiction to the brink of fantasy are on the verge of actual existence. We are past the time when adventures with Virtual Reality, which propels Columbia Pictures coming thriller The Thirteenth Floor, was considered fantastic. The kind of technology director David Cronenberg uses in Existenz – so advanced it blurs the lines between machine and biology – reeks of a modern realism the androids and spacecrafts in Blade Runner lacked at the time of its creation.

Despite the feeling our cultural vision has been limited to future-gazing, an anomalous strain in the film industry has avoided the blinding whitelight. Lingering in the film periphery lies a resurgence of the classics. And who better to resurrect for classic story lines than William Shakespeare.

Starting with Baz Luhrman's version of Romeo and Juliet, marquees have recently been over-run with other Shakespearean titles and story lines. The latest notch on this resurrected bedpost is A Midsummer Night's Dream. These projects are not full of obscure British stage actors, but are straight from Hollywood and saturated with today's big names. Even the holiest of holys in Hollywood have acknowledged the legitimacy of this trend, with an Oscar for best picture being placed in the hands of Shakespeare in Love earlier this year.

In a world inundated with millennial hoopla, this is actually a refreshing splash of culture in the face of audiences plagued with a futuristic hangover. After all, I think Dylan was lauding the past as much as he was looking forward.

Looking behind us is as tangible and progressive as guessing and fearing what is to come. Maybe we should all take a trek down the Shakespearean lane – that is, if we have the time between our romps of cybersex and filling our Y2K shelters with canned food.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999