Saturday, September 15, 2012

III.iii. The Confessional - Fodor (2007)

Fodor cut into this scene substantially, but his spareness works. The penitent Claudius is first seen in shadow (above) and says one line from his talk with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern (absent), inserting it in the soliloquy admitting his guilt. The line: "I like him not, nor stands it safe with us / To let his madness range". His guilt for past sins is prefaced by the promise of future sins. So it is in the play, but by removing all intervening text, Fodor brings the irony forward. Even as Claudius is praying for forgiveness, he has put into motion more evil. In this version, the speech can't even really be called a prayer, since it avoids his wish for forgiveness. This is a darker world where divine intervention isn't an option, and where it would not be believable for any of the characters to actually be pious. In part because of the modern setting, but also because their interpretation is so much more corrupt than in the classic text.

Mid-prayer (as it were), the lights come up and Polonia enters. Or has she been there all along? She is, in this version, fully aware of Claudius' misdeeds, and often a willing participant. She's there to explain her plan to Claudius (substituting the word "arras" for "mirror" to match the later location), and despite their romantic relationship, seems afraid of him. Or perhaps FOR him. Claudius seems to be in shock, and zombie-like, shuffles off after Polonia when she stops speaking.
Holding his arm, she brings him back to his room before heading for Gertrude's, and they share a light kiss at the end of the hall. Still, Claudius barely responds to it, though he does turn back towards her as she leaves. She is, after all, a part of his sins, which are amply on his mind in this moment.

Earlier in the hall sequence, Hamlet creeps up behind them, sees them together, might even guess at Polonia's destination, but he does not, as in the play, attempt to kill Claudius. We know he has a gun and that he has said he could do "bitter business" this night, so the implication is that he might have shot them both in the back right then and there, but chose not to. Why is not revealed. He certainly has no cause to think Claudius is seeking redemption, nor that a praying man would go to Heaven even if he'd seen Claudius praying (which he has not). There's not even the sense that Hamlet feels sorry for his stepfather. He just ducks out of sight after a short moment, and only Polonia feels that perhaps she was being watched. It's possible her presence protected Claudius as Hamlet could not be sure he could perpetrate a double murder successfully.

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