Saturday, June 30, 2012

III.ii. Critical Reception - Hamlet 2000

In Hamlet 2000, we don't stay in the theater long. Horatio and Marcella noted Claudius' blenching at the movie screen (as did we), but seems more confused than certain. Still, in cases where the actor playing the King isn't ambiguous in his reaction, there's no real need to dwell on Horatio's. Hamlet races off into night as we hear the song's words in voice-over. It takes an entirely different bent spoken as internal monologue. In the play as written, the lines are a manifestation of Hamlet's exultant victory. Here, it becomes commentary on the evening's events. Some must watch, some must sleep and so it goes. He is saying that only a few, like him, are vigilant, and the world outside is still oblivious to Claudius' crimes. There is still much work to be done, and the melancholy of Hamlet's tone shows him weary still, despite his small victory.

He hails a cab and jumps in, and that's where Rosencrantz & Guildenstern catch up to him, box him in. As the cab drives off, we hear words on the radio, but not from the play, a commercial for buckling up about cats having nine lives. It informs the scene only in the smallest degree. It's about danger and safety, something all the participants are ignoring. They're all playing a dangerous game. The difference between R&G and Hamlet is that the twins don't know it. In fact, Hamlet will survive his deadly encounter with them (he's the cat) and they will not. But here, the Prince is caught and though he tries to remain aloof, he does wipe at his wet eyes from time to time. In the absence of recorders - this version frequently does away with lines about anachronistic props - their conversation ends at "my wit's diseased". He cannot give an answer and that is that. He's not playing coy as other Hamlets do, he's frankly telling they are unlikely to get anything from him.
When he gets off, part of the "witching hour" speech is done in voice-over. It's all about mood. Heavy metal leaks out of a revolving door (the Ghost's passageway to and from the undiscovered country?), steam blows out of sewer grates, and in a few moments, as we cut to Claudius heading out of Elsinore, he crosses paths with a child dressed as a ghost who boos at him.
It's Halloween in New York, apparently, and it's a nice ironic image that a dead child would haunt the King at this point, he who has killed his brother, someone he grew up with, was a child with. It comes after a mysterious scene in which Hamlet is seen bothering a limo driver, but as we'll see, it is merely set-up for the confessional scene.

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