Shakespeare: The animated tales: Taming of the shrew was a 1994 animated series. It was directed by Aida Zyablikova and written by Leon Garfield. The animation style is very reminiscent of 90's animation, even so I found the style to be charming and it gave it a more punch and Judy feel to it, which in turn makes it more accessible to children.
From the very beginning this animation had a fun feel to it. As with the actual play it starts with a prank on a drunken man, a feat which lends the animation a comic feel from the start. This adds both authenticity and humour and I am quite glad they didn't take it out. Even if they only had around twenty six minute and they don't have much time to explain the whole story. This scene, while it may be unnecessary to the telling of the story introduces you to several Shakespearean elements in its minute and a half. We see the play within a play idea that Shakespeare is so fond of and we are gently eased into the Shakespearean language and the play itself. This makes the animation more accessible to children while also giving them the proper idea of how The Taming of the Shrew is actually introduced.
The language in this animation is quite proper considering it is designed for children. There are moments where modern English creeps in but for the most part the animation sticks to Shakespearian language which while it introduces children to the style of language would not be amazing for keeping them interested or helping them to understand what is being said. That being said as a child I remember watching this animation and enjoying it while not being able to understand all of it so while this hurdle may feel slightly unnecessary it does not make the animation unreachable.
The way in which the characters are animation helps to counteract the barrier to younger audiences that the language presents. The over the top feel of the characters and their actions leads to an easier understanding of what the language is trying to portray. From Katherina's (Kate's) telekinetic hair to the dance battle which highlights the exchange of insults the animation adds to the enjoyment of the play by overacting what is seen to happen in the play. The animation makes things more obvious then the language. This adds accessibility and understanding, which is a key component when you take the face that this is a children's cartoon into account. The style of animation also makes each of the characters easily distinguishable from one another. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of who is doing what.
As a twenty six minute version, there is understandably a lot in the text that does not appear in the animation. However the animation hits most of the important plot points for Kate's Story and for a twenty six minute version (that is for children) it does a good job of conveying that side of the plot. It even adds in moments that are not in the original play. The wedding is never seen in the original which takes part of the scene before the wedding would take place (in the play it is described by Gremio) uses it to progress the story. While the adaption is very good at covering Kate's story, it somewhat glosses over Bianca's. This is understandable as with the little time the animation has it could not cover everything. Personally I feel this choice is commendable, I would rather leave the animation knowing the majority of one side of the story then knowing a little bit of both. This also makes the story much easier to grasp. It conveys the actual taming of the shrew part of the story in such a way that a child could conceivably understand what the plot is without compromising the story as a whole by trying to do too much at once.
As a whole I found this adaptation to be delightful, even at its short length. I would definitely recommend it as an introduction to Shakespeare. The length simply adds to it in the regards of an introduction for young minds.
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