Saturday, May 24, 2014

V.i. The Gravedigger Scene - Fodor (2007)

Fodor's version of this scene still features black comedy, but the scene is heavily re-engineered. The jokes are different as are some of the participants. It begins with Hamlet and Bernardo (not Horatio) jogging down a forest path. Because Hamlet's exile was omitted from the film, it's not clear whether he left at all, though he would know of Ophelia's death if he was at Elsinore. Perhaps he's staying at a friend's house - Bernardo's - in the same area. They hear a tussle, noise that leads them to the priest hitting the Gravedigger. Fodor himself plays the priest, a character that steals lines from the First Clown (the Gravedigger in this scene is the dense Second Clown), and from Horatio/Bernardo, acting as bouncing board and exposition.

If he's hitting the 2nd Clown in the beginning, it's for not having found the answer to his riddle. But that's not really where the black comedy comes from because these lines are mostly cut. Instead, there's the matter of the grave being dug in a minefield - surely a comment on a rotting Denmark and the wars Hamlet's father fought - with the addle-brained Clown fiddling around with a found mine (a pun on whose grave it is? "Mine, sir"?), and having both feet in his grave, exploding. The other men are pelted with dirt, the Priest picks up his arm and delivers his original joke's punchline "the gallows may do well to thee". The adaptation has a nasty, horror vibe, but this scene is nasty in another way, and doesn't quite fit. It gets worse.
William Bedchambers is not the most solid of Hamlets at the best of times, but this scene sees him at his worst. Bad line readings that emphasize the wrong words and multiple fluffs as he struggles to get his lines out, an indie budget possibly keeping the production from doing them again. The hesitations give the scene a less rehearsed quality, which could be a positive, but practically shrugging at the fact he knew Yorick as if it were an off-hand remark drains the life out of the moment.

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