Sunday, March 16, 2014

IV.vii. Ophelia's Death - Fodor (2007)

The Ophelia in this adaptation is a junkie, now in withdrawal after her sister Polonia's death, as she was her "medicator". When she finds a syringe and tries to shoot up, she dies from an overdose. Her death is intercut with the previous sequence, increasing the tension, but also drawing a link between the talk of the poison and the girl accidentally poisoning herself. Because events are so different from the ones related by Gertrude, the Queen isn't needed here and does not appear. It's a small mercy, because the actress' handle on the English language is limited. It's not clear that she would have given the speech what it needed.

In contrast to Claudius and Laertes discussing Hamlet in a dark room, Ophelia's sequences are blown-out, a pure white bleaching the color out of the film. The sound design is just as extreme. We may be hearing and seeing her madness and her ecstasy, or we may be experiencing the scenes from the Ghost's limbo. He watches as Ophelia "drowns" in her narcotic bliss, chokes, convulses and finally stops moving. Suddenly, her body is on the beach in the same position. Were we there all along? Has the Ghost moved her? The latter is suggested. He continues to watch as Claudius and Laertes run to her silent (as per the sound design) and apparently unbidden.

One of Fodor's key ideas is keeping the Ghost in the play all the way through as an unseen observer, although here it is suggested he takes an active hand in Ophelia's death. She finds the heroin under mysterious and fortuitous (in a sense) circumstances, in a room filled with his signature white light. He moves her body where she might be found by the people upon whom he wants revenge. Or since this will arguably push Hamlet over the edge, perhaps he's engineering events so that his son finally kills Claudius like he promised. The more his tardy son waits, the more blood will be shed. Fodor's Ghost is a figure from horror stories whose agency is more direct.

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