Tuesday, March 29, 2011

II.ii. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern - Olivier '48

Since Olivier has completely excised R&G, this sequence has gone with them. We lose many key lines and one of the best known speeches, and that certainly has an effect on the play. One might argue that Olivier plays clinical depression (i.e. melancholy) well enough that we hardly need the speech describing his mood, and indeed, Olivier's adaptation is more dour for losing the witty banter between Hamlet and his school chums. We are left with a single line, spoken to Polonius when he comes to announce the players: "He that plays the king shall be welcome." Olivier obviously thought it important, and it is. It ironically sends up Claudius by replacing him with a more welcome pretender.

But however little the effect on the particulars of the plot, one still misses the wit and poetry of Shakespeare's words.

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