Saturday, November 6, 2010

II.i. Ophelia Affrighted - Fodor (2007)

In Fodor's version, Act I is immediately followed by a musical montage using a triple split screen to show characters being put into motion (perhaps as an echo of the chess metaphor from Act I). It resolves into a meeting between Ophelia and Hamlet where she has sought him out and he apparently rebuffs her. This is not the scene described in Act II, Scene 1. There is obvious arguing which has him playing the jerk and her leaving. It serves the same function, however, giving Ophelia reason to think Hamlet is acting strangely. It is a calculated move on Hamlet's part. We see him thinking when she's not looking, and the music is Marillion's The Invisible Man. The song recalls the Ghost's existence ("I cannot lift a hand / Lift a hand to stop him / I don't exist What can I do? / What can I do?"), but I think the director and the actor are both telling us that Hamlet is cutting his ties to Ophelia and erasing his self to be at one with his mission of revenge. He ceases to exist as he used to and his relationships are forfeit. The scene ends with Ophelia leaving and Hamlet, apparently in the morgue, kisses his father's corpse on the lips.
It serves as prologue to the To be or not to be speech, which we'll get to later.

Scene 1 begins in earnest after this scene as discussed in our last Fodor article. Ophelia enters her sister's rooms and interrupts her impending murder of Reynalda. Polonia is clearly annoyed at this, and as both Reynalda and the Ghost watch, Ophelia tells her story. Strangely, she delivers the whole text as written, generating a complete disconnect with the montage seen earlier. Either she is making it up/is confused (and this Ophelia is on drugs through the entire film), or there was another, unseen encounter. Perhaps Hamlet tried to change his mind about casting Ophelia aside and then didn't manage it. Certainly, she lies or is mistaken when she says she denied Hamlet access to her, or are we to understand the montage scene was about her breaking up with him, and him acting like he didn't care? Ophelia isn't exactly "affrighted" even though she used the word, but seems to be suffering from the more modern malady we call anxiety. She speaks quickly, starts on a glass of wine, and brushes her hair obsessively. Polonia takes up the latter task for her and turning her murder/sexual weapon into a ribbon for her hair.
Unlike the Polonius of the play, Polonia is played not as foolish, but as sinister and cruel. "That hath made him mad" is said with relish, like it was her plan all along to split Hamlet and Ophelia up to do him harm. There is then a strange moment where Polonia seems to become aware of the Ghost's presence (shots of his eyes meeting her eyeline). Not for the first time, the Ghost seems to have a corrupting influence on the characters. In the previous part of the scene, he seemed to be egging her on to murder Reynalda. Here, he changes the intent of the line "This must be known". Polonia has the sudden realization that if the King and Queen are made aware of Hamlet's madness and/or the cause of that madness, it can create more mayhem.

So where does the evil of the play come from? Though Polonia (like many other characters) is thoroughly corrupt, Fodor makes the Ghost the agent of that evil. In the play, the Ghost is indeed the catalyst for the tragedy. In this film, that idea is taken to a horrific extreme wherein he manipulates not only Hamlet, but the other doomed characters of the play, leading them all off the cliff.

No comments: