Thursday, December 9, 2010

II.ii. New Arrivals - Fodor (2007)

Though we can hear Claudius' speech to Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, Fodor's camera instead shows us the dream-like image of Hamlets Jr. and Sr. from an earlier time, sitting on the floor. The child Hamlet is throwing dice and laughing. An image of risk, of invoking Fortune... of the fate awaiting both these characters later in life? Happier times juxtaposed with the present day's misfortunes. This is not strictly a flashback because the father and child become aware of the Claudius scene and watch it. Hamlet Sr. is dead, of course, but how can his young son also be haunting Elsinore. In a sense, all the characters who die in the play are already dead - fated to be so, or by now, in the knowledge held by the audience. Fodor's Elsinore, an overlit, decaying house, could easily pass for an afterlife in which these characters are continually replaying the events leading up to their deaths (a metaphor for theatre). The presence of a ghostly boy Hamlet links him to the dead father and also represents the death of innocence (in grossly symbolic terms) and an image of the memories Hamlet said he would erase. The scene does show a relationship between father and son that is near absent in the text. Though Hamlet extols his father's virtues, his childhood memories feature Yorick, a surrogate parent.
As the director takes an interest in the words being said, the camera's eye moves to the introduction of R&G, though they are not identified more than that. Guildenstern is played by Simon Nader (on the left), but the actor playing Rosencrantz (right, with more hair) is not credited. The scene is interrupted by the arrival of Polonia - which Guildenstern eyes with a measure of lust - who has news about Hamlet. Immediately, she elicits jealousy from Gertrude, whose line about the true cause of Hamlet's madness is thrown out not with regret, but with ire. The scene plays as if calling R&G was Gertrude's idea, and so Polonia's meddling intrusion frustrates her. It is also an artifact of the gender-switching of the Fodor version that the King's closest adviser would sexually compete with the Queen for his attentions.

We'll see in the next section how that particular triangle continues to play out.

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