TAN for TRESGALLO - Tresgallo 1 The Use of 19th Century...

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Tresgallo 1 The Use of 19 th Century Technology in Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream : Draft 2 While most adaptations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream have maintained Shakespeare’s original setting of Athens, Hoffman decided to instead set his 1999 film in Tuscany, Italy, in the late 19 th century. With this change of time period, Hoffman chose to frequently feature modern inventions in his film, such as the gramophone and the bicycle. Upon investigation, it appears that Hoffman's use of modern equipment serves to enhance character development, provide deeper meaning through their symbolism, and modernize the story for the benefit of the contemporary audience. At the time that Hoffman’s film was scheduled to be released, George Lucas’ much anticipated prequel to Star Wars was set to premiere a mere five days afterward (Brugger 2). Because of the looming presence of this competition, Hoffman needed a strategy to entice the young, modern audience to his film. He wanted to avoid potential criticism of his film as yet another retelling of the same, outdated Shakespearean story, and wished for them to instead view it as a fresh take on the original. Thus he felt the need to “devise creative ways to keep his dream from dissipating; his Midsummer not only had to be worth watching: somehow it had to contribute uniquely and meaningfully to the play’s long film tradition” (Brugger 3). He aspired to accomplish this by changing the setting of his film to 19 th century Tuscany, and also by including 19 th century technology, hopefully enabling the story to appear more relevant and appealing. Most notably among the 19 th century technology that Hoffman chose to feature in his film are the bicycle and the gramophone. The gramophone, formerly known as a phonograph, was first invented in 1887. Prior to this, music was only played in live performances. After this invention, people were able to listen to operas and other performances at home, rather than paying to attend an expensive theater.
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However, only the wealthy could manage to purchase a gramophone, as (Jones 88). Consequently, the presence of a phonograph in this movie indicates the technological importance in this new adaptation. Nevertheless, at the turn of the century, music would soon become more economical through mass production, as would the ability to produce gramophone records with a wide variety of songs. With this innovation, music became suddenly widespread and affordable, enabling virtually anyone to listen to recorded own homes. Consequently, this tendency reflected the current period of Hoffman’s film release: the transition from the 20 th to 21 st century. During the 20 th century, the mass-production of music allowed it to become more prevalent. As a result, music quickly developed with the growing demand, evolving from strictly classical and opera styles, gradually to the music of the “big bands” (Kelli 44). Recorded music became the trend during that early time, a new popular pastime among people. Perhaps it was for this reason that Hoffman may have decided to include
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