Friday, January 27, 2012

III.ii. Instructing the Players - Hamlet 2000

Because Hamlet presents a film, not a play, the scene is drastically reduced. We now pick it up from somewhere in the middle of Hamlet's talk with Horatio, as the two welcome and occasionally shake hands with guests at the theater's door. The staging is comical even if the text is not, as the Prince is continually interrupted by passers-by (including Rosencrantz & Guildenstern). It's a most public arena in which to give Horatio a secret mission. As patrons come in to humor the Prince by seeing his highly experimental short films, viewers who know the play well may be reminded of Hamlet's speech about false shows of love, the "absurd pomp", that is usually part of this scene. Sadly, nothing remains of it but the idea. Instead, we start at "Give me that man...". Hamlet still compliments Horatio, but he does not feel the need to compare it to common fawning. The nature of their relationship survives the cut, but is given in brief.

When Hamlet says he must be idle, he puts on wacky yellow-tinted glasses, an outward sense of his madness. There's an awkward moment (or two!) when Ophelia walks in and the modern recontextualizing of the play creates a big change there. In period staging, it's assumed Ophelia must come to the play, along with the rest of the Court. Her father is there, so she is there. She lives within Elsinore's walls, is part of the community. Here, it's a movie being shown in a private theater, but the characters are not really organized into a Court, and move around New York, often outside the walls of the Elsinore building. In other words, she CHOSE to come. It's not to say the text's Ophelia didn't make a choice, but it's assumed she didn't. Ophelia's choice - if there is one - opens another avenue of analysis. Does she believe she can still move Hamlet to sanity? Does she wish to show her independence? (Ophelia tries to give as good as she gets during the play.) Is she simply a fan of theater/film? (This might be a common interest that brought them together in the first place.) Or is it a false choice and she is still being coerced by her father? Giving Ophelia an option and somehow showing it may be a worthy and fruitful exercise.

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