Sunday, March 3, 2013

Act IV, Scenes 1-3 - Fodor (2007)

Fodor's Hamlet makes Ophelia much more of a participant in this sequence, starting on her and a visitation from the Hamlet ghost child. She follows him out into the hall, where a young Ophelia ghost is also running around. In this world, it seems your spirit can leave you early and remain in echoes of better times. Ophelia ignores her younger self and moves towards the end of the hall while intelligible shouts are heard resonating through Elsinore, likely people looking for Hamlet. Ophelia finds him first, having just stowed the body behind a folding screen, in a room dimly lit in red. She spies from one of the doors as Rosencrantz & Guildenstern find Hamlet. These are much more menacing, violent characters in Fodor's adaptation, so Rosencrantz is visibly holding back from attacking the Prince with great difficulty. Guildenstern's "A thing, my lord?" is said with outrage instead of the usual misunderstanding tone. Calling the King a thing is, it seems, a step too far, and the sponges wonder how much trouble Hamlet is willing to get himself into.

After they leave, Ophelia walks towards the folding screen where she finds her sister Polonia's body, hung in the closet, head down.
 She tries to take her down, to awaken her, and failing, throws an expletive-filled tantrum. Flashback images remind us of Polonia's role as her sister's drug pusher, sticking needles into her arm to manipulate her. The whole set-up creates an entirely new motivation for Ophelia's madness. She hasn't lost a beloved father at her lover's hand, she's lost her dealer. She's angry, not distraught, but soon she'll be feeling the pangs of withdrawal. What's most interesting is that Polonia has basically been placed "behind an arras", in death an image of the life she led.

Scene 3 is entirely omitted (as is Scene 1). It's an odd exclusion, and we may wonder where Hamlet has gone. The point is made later when he returns, so expediency may have been the order of the day. And since Ophelia discovers Polonia's body, there's less of a reason for Claudius to keep asking where it is.

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