Friday, April 27, 2012

Tim Curry as Alexander Monro!

What fun! Having written about the famous Scottish surgeon in my most recent book, it was a treat to see the characters in the 19th c. bodysnatching scandals brought to life in the 2010 film "Burke and Hare." The dark comedy about the homicidal actions of William Burke and William Hare to serve the city's anatomists gets most of the details right, such as the transporting of bodies in barrels. The lively cast (Tim Curry above) is almost upstaged by the rich details of the sets, from Dr. Robert Knox's dissecting theater to the cobbled streets of Edinburgh. A review by Top 10 Films reads, "The film is...beautifully shot and is one of [John] Landis’ most visually exciting films thanks to its brilliant period production design." The plot necessitates some gore, but at least it's not accompanied by Smell-o-Vision. Many historical characters make an appearance (including poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge), but not naturalist John James Audubon, who was given a tour of the anatomy school by Dr. Knox during his visit from America and is reported to have said, "The sights were extremely disagreeable, many of them shocking beyond all I ever thought could be. I was glad to leave this charnel house and breathe again the salubrious atmosphere of the streets." The movie - which I watched last night on DVD - does not confuse the issue that the Dr. Alexander Monro played by Curry is the 3rd-generation anatomist of that family (distinguished by adding tertius to his name in print). It closes with the authentic information that Burke was hanged, anatomized, and skeletonized, but leaves out the details that his tanned skin was crafted into souvenirs and that during the dissection Monro dipped his quill pen into Burke's blood and wrote, "This is written with the blood of Wm Burke, who was hanged at Edinburgh. This blood was taken from his head." Happy to say that the brevity of "Burke and Hare" (an hour and a half) is matched by its hilarity. Recommended!

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.