Friday, October 14, 2011

III.i. To Be or Not to Be - Fodor (2007)

Fodor's Hamlet places the speech very early in the story, as Hamlet sits at his reel-to-reel and speaks into a microphone just after a musical montage representing his first encounter with Ophelia (unseen but described in the play). It is then followed by Polonia's scene with her spy Reynaldo (or here, Reynalda). In effect, the speech is now part of Hamlet's initial set of reactions to meeting his father's ghost. At that point in his emotional journey, Hamlet is actively thinking about revenge, cutting off ties to loved ones, setting up his cover as a madman, and in this repurposed sequence, leaving a record of his thoughts for posterity. It's a suicide note on audio, except he doesn't go through with it. Hamlet's pace suggests he's been composing it in his head. He rattles off the speech rather quickly, especially the list of ills we must bear here on Earth.
The speech intercuts between the first frame shown and the one above, Hamlet's half-face (an image of ambivalence?). The camera in that shot gets ever closer to him as we delve deeper into his consciousness. These shots are further intercut with Hamlet Sr.'s funeral, as various characters kiss his dead mouth goodbye. We see Polonia in particular, intimating a relationship between her and the former King and a possible role in his betrayal. At "To die, to sleep, perchance to dream", those flashbacks begin, with a frame of various characters all fated to die, lined up in a row. At the very end, as Hamlet himself kisses his father's cadaver, we hear the sounds of bells and sea birds, disturbing elements taking us further into the memory. Those flashbacks are blown out even more than the present day's film treatment, adding a greenish tinge to the proceedings that evoke both a sickliness and perhaps the "pale cast of thought" itself.

A notable cut: The speech is largely intact but omits "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come". Why? I am unable to come up with an answer. Perhaps Fodor felt it was too pretty and precious a line for his horror story. Perhaps the actor skipped over it. Theories?

No comments: