“For such a sight will blind a father’s eye”: The Spectacle of Suffering in Taymor’s Titus

  • Courtney Lehmann
  • Bryan Reynolds
  • Lisa Starks

Abstract

Disrupting the cinematic narrative of Julie Taymor’s Titus (1999), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, is a nightmare sequence in which the newly crowned empress, Tamora, stands face-to-face with her enemy, Titus. Images of dismembered limbs engulfed in flames appear in the background, sailing forward, until they inundate the screen behind the characters’ silhouetted profiles.1 Invoking the murders of Tamora’s eldest son Alarbus and Titus’s youngest son Mutius, the flying, burning body parts symbolize the powerfulness, unpleasantness, and mysteriousness of the creative process, harkening back, via homage to the horror of Seneca, to the ritualistic, religious roots of theater in the Greek festival of Dionysus. In Titus, especially in such magnificent scenes as this, Taymor combines a slew of culturally rich metaphors, in effect demonstrating what transversal theory calls “investigative-expansive wherewithal” and the “principle of translucency.” (See photo 9.1.)

Keywords

Vortex Schizophrenia Assimilation Smoke Refraction 

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Copyright information

© Bryan Reynolds 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Courtney Lehmann
  • Bryan Reynolds
  • Lisa Starks

There are no affiliations available

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