Sunday, August 22, 2010

I.v. Swearing Oaths - Hamlet 2000

Hamlet 2000 moves lines around frequently, and in this case, prefaces this section with its actual end lines. The rhyming couplet is spoken over a video montage (presumably one of Hamlet's art films) of people and the city, resolving into the "real" world of the play, the Denmark corporation logo (above). The Ghost is still present, out on a nearby balcony, smoking a cigarette.
As you can see, it's nowhere near morning, so the line about time being out of joint is used here as a preface to that strangeness. Hamlet's friends walk in and see the Ghost there, witnessing not Hamlet's madness, but the Ghost itself. This is an important cut. Hamlet does not appear mad, nor does he warn his friends that he might start acting strangely (at least, not yet). There is no swearing, possibly as his friends are unlikely to tattle on him, and the Ghost does not ask them to. Most of the sequence is thus cut and Horatio jumps right to "this is wondrous strange". Hamlet tells him to "give HIM welcome", a notable change (from "it") showing that he is more accepting of the Ghost's identity. This is his father and not some evil spirit. The character's tangibility goes in the same direction.

Speaking of single words, this Hamlet uses the more inclusive "our philosophy", being just as mystified as Horatio is that the supernatural is real. The cumulative effect of this scene is to create a world where the younger characters are loyal to each other without needing to swear oaths. It is an accepted principle that they won't be talking to Hamlet's parents, the adults who have sold themselves out for money and power. These are two distinct and never overlapping worlds. It will make the betrayal of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz all the more unforgivable.

With couplet come and gone, Hamlet ends the Act on another voice-over line, this one pulled from earlier in the scene (and in the previous sequence from the perspective of these articles): "My fate cries out." Instead of referring to the impulse to follow the Ghost, it now refers to his call to arms against his uncle. It works, as indeed, the original use of the line ultimately invokes that same mission, though Hamlet does not know it.

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