Wednesday, December 8, 2010

II.ii. New Arrivals - Zeffirelli '90

Zeffirelli's Hamlet does away with the entire Norwegian subplot and only has us meet Rosencrantz & Guildenstern later, when Hamlet comes upon them. This section is thus reduced to Polonius' boarding of the King (now with Queen) with the supposed cause of Hamlet's lunacy. Zeffirelli even gives Gertrude Claudius' line, unsurprisingly longing to here the news about her son. What we lose is Claudius' interest in the affair. Where the text would have a King whose love for his Queen outweighs matters of State, here he is simply part of a conversation imposed by Gertrude. He even seems reticent to discuss it, guilt or at least discomfort flitting across his face. We also lose Gertrude's allowance for the idea that their hasty marriage is the real cause of Hamlet's madness, robbing the play of a certain irony. Further, though we know R&G were "sent for", we never see them with the King and Queen, making the royal couple much less active in the unfolding tragedy.

The snippet does show Gertrude with a bouquet of wild flowers, linking her with Ophelia, and perhaps hinting at how the Queen knows about the girl's suicide later. Perhaps these flowers are a gift from Ophelia, or perhaps she too like to pick them at the same brook.

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