Richard Burton reads “Under Milkwood” by Dylan Thomas
There was a day when listening to the spoken word was a common and popular form of entertainment. Before the advent of television, radio and motion pictures, people gathered to hear writers read aloud their tales and poets recite their verses. But these were more than mere a reading of words, the words were enacted. The words were given life in the tones, inflections and dramatic pauses in the voices of the readers. Pace, volume, hesitation and more were part of the craft. Readings were an event and captured the imagination. It was the original form of acting.
Today, stories are enacted before us in complete and graphic detail in glorious HD on the big screen. Little, if anything, is left to the imagination. This is where today’s entertainment falls short as far as I’m concerned. Stories can be more dramatic, more effective if something is left to the imagination. Graphic depiction is overrated. There is something to be said for fading to black at the appropriate scary moment, for intimating the love making, for titillating the imagination and leaving you hanging. Acting often takes a back seat to stunts and special effects. It seems there is precious little serious dramatic acting seen anymore. I believe that goes directly to the lack of great writing being made into scripts these days.
Someone recently posted this spoken version of Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milkwood” elsewhere. It’s a truly excellent example of what I described above. The recitation is by none other than the great actor, Richard Burton. Listen to his voice, how he uses it, how he doesn’t. This, my friends, is great acting and great entertainment. Enjoy it! I’d really appreciate your comments after you listen. Agree? Disagree? Couldn’t care less? Let me know. Thanks for reading!