Vanessa Redgrave - Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons Vanessa Redgrave - Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons

Redgrave riffs on Shakespeare in refugee film

By: AFP
Wed, May. 17, 2017

LONDON- 17 May 2017: Veteran British actress Vanessa Redgrave on Wednesday unveiled a personal take on Europe's migrant crisis as her directoral debut screened at the Cannes film festival.

The 80-year-old, who started her career in the 1960s with the Royal Shakespeare Company, drew on her decades performing William Shakespeare's plays for her documentary "Sea Sorrow", a film that takes its own name from "The Tempest".

The film features footage of migrants living in Italy and the now-dismantled Jungle camp in Calais, northern France, interspersed with Shakespearean snippets including a reading by Ralph Fiennes -- a master interpreter of The Bard known to younger generations as Harry Potter's nemesis Lord Voldemort -- recalling a terrifying escape in a rickety boat.

The words may date back to the 17th century but to the modern listener they recall the massive influx of refugees and migrants risking their lives with dangerous Mediterranean crossings to Europe.

"I feel like I'm back in Shakespeare's day," Redgrave says in the film during a tour of the
Jungle, deploring the grim living conditions among the tents and shacks.

The actress, who was due to fly into Cannes later Wednesday, also draws on her own experience as a two-year-old evacuee from London during World War II -- as well as that of British lawmaker Alfred Dubs, who was rescued from the Nazis when he was six and has recently pushed Britain to accept more child refugees.

"I thought Alf Dubs' narrative would be welcomed and understood, as one child in ten thousand who had escaped the Nazis thanks to a handful of British people," Redgrave said in a statement.

Redgrave won best actress at Cannes in 1966 for "Morgan" and has worked on a string of films tackling social justice issues during her half-century on the stage and screen.
 
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