Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Hamlet's Letter - Olivier '48

The letters' arrival is interwoven into Scene 5, so occurs out of the normal sequence. First, the King and Queen get theirs BEFORE Laertes arrives, using lines from Scene 7, and they walk off reading, each up their own staircase, representing their completely different thoughts on the matter. Gertrude, sad and wanting news from her son; Claudius, surprised and angry Hamlet does not appear to be dead yet.

We then cut Horatio who is watching Ophelia pick flowers. He is approached by two men, the sailors, who give him a letter and step out of shot. As Horatio starts to read, the camera closes in, goes by him to the wall, which dissolves into the tale Hamlet tells, in his own voice. Model ships, some quick swashbuckling action, and Hamlet clasping hands with one one of the very sailors who delivered his message. The effect is very cinematic, and does a good job of clarifying Hamlet's story. It's clearer, for example, that Hamlet has jumped ships on purpose, to escape his English fate. (Of course, without Rosencrantz&Guildenstern, removed from this adaptation, his escort is faceless and he remains guiltless of their "going to it".)

As Horatio gets to the end of the message, the camera tracks back again and we see the sailors have not left outright. Ophelia enters singing, and they appear as haunted by her sadness as Horatio is. They let her pass, silently, and only then rush off to meet Hamlet as we stay with Ophelia, who enters Scene 5, already in progress, as previously discussed.

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