Shakespeare’s plays are filled with high drama, intrigue, suspicion, betrayal, sex, and the list goes on. In A Winter’s Tale we have all of these elements. A suspicious husband, a pregnant wife, the supposed lover, illegitimate children, revenge and death! But wait! Within all the angst and anger we have loyalty, trust, devotion, and deep sadness. Funnily enough all of these descriptions can be used to characterize a Tyler Perry movie or play. It makes me wonder to myself, is Perry truly an original or is he just another one of those wannabes claiming things from the 80s, 20s, or in this case the 1500s, as their own. The particular Tyler Perry movie that comes to mind is “The Family That Preys.” This movie includes every description that I gave above.
One of the many issues that I have when always reading Shakespeare is trying to discern the plot. The language is so difficult to understand that it takes a few reads before I truly understand what is going on. In A Winter’s Tale I found that the stage directions were the only things keeping me a float. However, with Shakespeare’s tough to understand old English, it is often quite easy to know when you have gotten to the juicy parts. By Act II we all know that the drama has begun and this continues through the end of the play. In Act II the number of exclamation points from Leontes increases drastically. Words like honesty, virtue, justice, mercy, and (if you still did not know what was happening) adulteress are thrown around. Hermione calls her husband a villain three times in the same breath. She implores him to see his mistake saying “You did mistake.” All these characters come into the fray and plead for Hermione’s sake. You could only image the large group of yelling people. Then in Act V we have revealed identities, moving statues, and engagements.
*“The Family That Preys,” a 2008 Tyler Perry production, has much the same situations as Shakespeare’s play, though the plot line is much easier to follow from the beginning. The difference in this story is that the wife turns out to be an actual horrible adulteress with an illegitimate child. Characters in this movie are forced to flee, people are banished from town (so to speak), some die, the wronged are “righted,” and everyone at the end gets their just desserts. You feel sad at the end of the story, but also feel a certain sense of closure and justice. Unlike Shakespeare, it lacks the magic, music, transformations, dancing statues, romance, and happy endings.
I do have to say that Shakespeare does a much better job with the end. The first reason being there are multiple ends. At the end of Act III all seems to be over, but then you realize that there are two more acts to go. The closure of Act III is so very tragic and sad, but at the same time you feel that Leontes deserved to lose the people that he was so quick to discard. There is a feeling of hope, that the small baby deserves to be cared by others, especially those who might make her happy (one of them is a Clown for goodness sake). Then we have the second happy ending filled with all the joys of resolution, forgiveness, reunion, and love. Tyler Perry and Shakespeare have a talent for creating intrigue and drama, but I have to say, Shakespeare does it so much better.
*Link to info about movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1142798/?ref_=nv_sr_1