Saturday, May 22, 2010

Act I Scene 4 - Fodor (2007)

There's not much left of Scene 4 in Fodor's Hamlet either. As the trio waits for the witching hour, there is no cause to speak of any kind of "king's rouse". This is a particularly decadent Elsinore, and it is doubtful this Hamlet would retain his puritanical values. The three characters do not, in fact, go much beyond discussing the weather and what time it is. Horatio and Marcellus remain intriguing in their very modern aloofness, but their parts are soon over. Instead of the usual appearance of the Ghost, fearful prayers and Hamlet's headlong jump into the dark, the film goes for a more supernatural sequence. Time stands still. Hamlet notices his friends are frozen in the moment. He then has a vision of himself as a young boy, prancing through Elsinore House in the harsh white sunlight this film associates with the ghost world.
Then he is there too. Flash cuts move him from room to room, have him confront his younger self, until he is alone. And then he gets hit across the face by an invisible hand a few times before the Ghost physically appears.
This is a much more malevolent Ghost than the one we're used to, which may put even more doubt on his tale. If the Ghost is evil, did he perhaps not deserve the death he got even if he's telling the truth? Could Fodor's Hamlet delay his action for more nihilist reasons? Does it matter if his father is avenged? Is he worth avenging only in that Claudius is just as deserving of death? Does Hamlet care either way? By corrupting "Denmark" so entirely, Fodor levels the playing field between good and evil. There is, in effect, no good. If all deaths are deserved, is this still a tragedy?

And yet, there are those shots of Hamlet as a child, speaking to a happy childhood. Are we then to understand that Hamlet Sr.'s time in hell is the reason behind his present corruption? Scene 5 will have him say "I am thy father's spirit", not "thy father". What is the distinction? How far removed from the man's life is his traumatized soul? We'll try to answer these questions when we look more closely at Scene 5 itself and actually hear the Ghost speak.

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