Thursday, March 27, 2014

IV.vii. Ophelia's Death - Classics Illustrated

Both comic book adaptations teach us about rushing through the play and its effects, though on stage, we would hardly get the same kind of superimposition caused by placing speech bubbles in the same panel/space.

The original
Gertrude is rather thrifty when it comes to telling Laertes his sister has drowned, the words coming out of her mouth even as she rushes through the door. Again, this is due to the way comics work, but keeping everything in the same speech bubble keeps pauses and hesitations out of the Queen's "voice". Her account of Ophelia's death is more detailed, taking up an entire page:
Pitched at a younger audience, Ophelia's death appears to be entirely accidental, albeit as result of her madness. In her poor judgment, she climbs up on a very slim branch, which breaks under her weight. An important lesson about safety, perhaps, but not a suicide. In the end, even her garlands desert her as she sinks to the bottom of the brook.

The Berkley version

The Grant/Mandrake adaptation is even more rushed, though it includes more dialog. Laertes is told not while he's kneeling (or did he just fall to his knees upon hearing the news?) in the cemetery. It's likely that is his father's grave. The next panel looks beautiful, though there seems to be some confusion as to who's crying eyes those are. The speech bubble pointing to the face means them to be the Queen's, but they rather look more like Laertes'. Regardless, the one shot of Ophelia is evocative of John Everett Millais' famous painting of Ophelia.
The cemetery setting underscores Laertes' loss of all family. Notably, his crying despite his announced restraint is cut, so this Laertes manages to hold it together. See also how Claudius' last lines, because they are included in a panel in which Laertes has not yet exited, plays like an aside. Does this Claudius actually fear Laertes' rage against HIM will start up again, or is it an unnecessary confusion resulting from the medium?

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