Beckett on Film
Playwright Conor McPherson, one of the 19 directors behind the Gate Theatre of Dublin’s astonishing, comprehensive Beckett on Film collection, makes a persuasive case that without Samuel Beckett, there would have been no Harold Pinter, thus no David Mamet, thus no Quentin Tarantino. It’s a sharp point, but one that scarcely needs making since Beckett’s plays themselves — all of which are here, from the full-length masterpieces ”Waiting for Godot” and ”Endgame” to the 45-second-long ”Breath” — are as relevant in grappling with both the metaphysical and mundane as they were the day they were written.
You can quarrel with some of the interpretations (which range from stunning successes to interesting misses); you can even argue, as one critic does in an accompanying documentary, that the mere act of filming Beckett ruinously distorts his work. But there’s no quarreling with the array of talent both behind the camera (Anthony Minghella, Neil Jordan, Atom Egoyan, Mamet) and before it (Jeremy Irons, Alan Rickman, John Hurt, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Julianne Moore, among others). Since no theatergoer has ever left a Beckett play without thinking, at least once, ”What was that?” the opportunity this collection provides to find out by repeated viewings makes it an utter treasure.