Monday, July 11, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Hamlet 2000

2000's Hamlet does his soliloquy as voice-over, obviously depressed and watching an old movie (Rebel Without a Cause) in his bed, listlessly. In this version, film has replaced theater as Hamlet's interest, and indeed as a medium for the play (we will later have a film within a film, rather than a play within a film). No troupe of players arrives at Elsinore, but "Players" are continually arriving there (as they do in our own homes) via the television. The Player than moves Hamlet so is James Dean on tv, rather than an old friend (although this isolated Hamlet may think of old film actors as his only friends). Though the performance we see isn't particularly filled with the emotion Hamlet speaks of, the choice is nonetheless a good one. Like Hamlet, Dean was a self-destructive youth dead before his time, possibly by suicide. Rebel Without a Cause has an ironic connotation as well, since Hamlet most definitely has a cause but cannot bring himself to rebel. And so beyond the Player, we have his character, who rebels without cause, motivating Hamlet to finally act because he DOES. Hamlet starts to film the film for inclusion in "The Mouse-Trap".
Hamlet's films are made in editing and he need not call on a company of Players. As the speech continues, we see him at the editing table, crafting an experimental film from odd bits and pieces. Images include eyeless women (his mother), wilting flowers (surely a reference to Ophelia), lips on cheeks (adultery), a classic Hamlet with skull (an image of his father, though also disturbing because it makes reference to the play as if it exists in this world where its actions and words are repeated), and accusatory eyes. We'll have more cause to discuss these images and others as "The Mouse-Trap" actually unfolds.

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