Saturday, January 14, 2012

III.ii. Instructing the Players - Olivier '48

As the camera moves around the stage, from the props, to the troupe, wider, then back to the the props, the point of view also changes from Hamlet's to third person when he walks into frame. It's part of the film's camera strategy, flitting from POV to POV, apparently free to roam, drop and fly. The Ghost's POV, perhaps, able to enter (and even possess?) other characters. In this version, Hamlet is actively correcting the Player's performance, a true director. For example, the Player saw the air with his hands before Hamlet gives him a direction not to. The Players have a variety of reactions to Hamlet. Some stand afeared, others relax and read their scripts, not really distracted by the princely director. Horatio is also present, and much of the speech might be directed to him, like his musings about the state of theater, replacing the conversation with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern in the text, but not this film. There's a poignant moment when Hamlet puts a wig on a boy, and we're instantly reminded of Ophelia's hair. A look of regret fleetingly crosses Hamlet's face, an awkward silence results. When Polonius enters, the Players grab every available prop and run backstage.
Hamlet lingers center stage, this is his big moment. Others will play the roles, but he wrote it. That's him on stage. And in crafting that meaning to the moment, the loss is Horatio's. He doesn't get the praise he deserves in the text, nor even the task of watching Claudius like a hawk. One might wonder why he's even included as Hamlet's lieutenant in this scene.


Prof. Chronotis said...

Isn't Patrick Troughton one of the players? I think I see him!

Siskoid said...

Certainly could be by his mannerisms. I was never able to spot him.