Sunday, January 12, 2014

IV.vii. Claudius' Seduction - Fodor (2007)

Fodor actually intercuts this scene with Ophelia going to her death, making the two moments more overtly simultaneous and giving Fortune justification for killing a young girl. As Laertes plots against Hamlet for the loss of one sister (the feminized Polonia, so Claudius "loving" Laertes' sister has extra meaning), another is taken from him as payment for his sin. Ophelia's death we will discuss at a later date, but the editing does give the Claudius-Laertes scene more forward momentum and contrasts talk of death with death actually happening. This is largely the function of the darkness in this candle-lit scene, contrasting with the whiteness of Ophelia's ecstatic world (and this "Denmark" in general), though of course, it fits the mood of the conspiracy.

Notably, Laertes initially refuses a glass of wine from Claudius, which is how we might track the seduction (not that this psychotic Laertes needs much prodding, he must only be convinced of the specific plan). The idea of the rapier duel is made acceptable in a modern setting by the inclusion of the oft-cut Lamond, introducing Laertes' reputation for fencing into an era that would normally not feature swords, but Laertes grimaces at first. He'll do it, but it needs something more. He adds poison to the mix (meanwhile, Ophelia is poisoning herself with drugs), and cold, unblinking Claudius puts some in a wine cup as his plan B. Only then does Laertes accept a glass, and they drink together, not realizing this wine is poisoned too. Sealing this deal, they've put into motion the mechanism of their own deaths. They might as well have drunk the venom directly.

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