My Struggle with Satan

Long ago it seems, perhaps in an anthology, I came across a speech from Paradise Lost. Satan speaks it. I always remembered the lines, “immortal hate, the study of revenge, and power never to submit or yield, and what is not to be overcome?”. It is a very stirring moment. The rest of the speech is even more interesting. Satan is truly a heroic figure. He begins the speech in despondency and in compassion, and then suddenly changes his direction and his thoughts and whips himself and his confederates into a frenzy of revenge. For a similar example of a sudden mood change in a “real” speech, see this masterpiece oration by the late Tony Benn MP. So it’s a challenge for an actor to convincingly portray these sudden shifts. Correctly done, they have the extraordinary dramatic impact of the Tony Benn speech. Badly done, I don’t know what to compare them to…a collapsing soufflé? Eventually I made my own recording of the Satan speech. I think I must have thought (I will look it up in my film diary later on) it ought to be a Long Shot in order to be able to incorporate fairly full physical gestures of a gigantic character, a ferocious warrior. So that’s what I did and it partly worked and partly didn’t .Here it is :

 

I had remembered having been dissatisfied with the first part as soon as I finished it, and if I hadn’t been pleased with the latter parts, I would never have published it. I also notice that the end of the “soft” Satan, the compassionate one, coincides with the end of the first minute of the monologue and from that point forward, after a rather sudden shift of mood and tone there is a crescendo until the end. It’s a mystery, which was repeated less than a month ago when I made this one-man rendition of the first scene of the Christmas Carol. that I seem to play the angry character with far more success and ease than the compassionate character, even though I myself am generally known as quite a gentle fellow. Maybe I have secrets from myself.