Friday, May 21, 2010

Act I Scene 4 - Hamlet 2000

Act 4 is pretty much excised from Hamlet 2000, using instead wordless sequences to tell the story. The first sequence has Claudius and Gertrude getting frisky in their limo while Hamlet watches them from the facing seat.This, along with the red carpet/press walk that follows acts as the equivalent of the "King's rouse". There's clearly a party atmosphere in which Hamlet does not share, and if there's a "tradition" here, it's that of enjoying the public eye. Hamlet, when confronted with journalists, says nothing. He is completely disconnected from the way things are done. His parents, in this instance, prove to be extremely selfish beings, which is in tune with the modern view this film takes of the play's characters. There is a strong Gen X vs. Baby Boomer vibe here, where the GenXer, Hamlet, won't buy into the system promoted by his more materialistic Boomer parents. Obviously, this has nothing to do with Shakespeare's intent, nevertheless, it's an interesting filter to see the play through if one accepts it as "universal". Different impulses may have driven the generation gap in Shakespeare's day, and yet a gap did exist. Applying a modern day motivation to that gap is one way of updating the play for each successive audience.

In any case, cutting all the dialog referring to the rouse and its effect on the Danish reputation was almost necessary since it doesn't quite make sense in the world of New York's Elsinore.

Horatio and the soldiers aren't waiting with Hamlet in this version. Instead, he's crashed in his apartment, and they wake him at the appointed hour from the "platform" (or security station).
Since there is no need to explain the rouse to them, they would have little to talk about anyway. The biggest change is that they're not present to try and stop Hamlet from following his father's Ghost. Sure, it avoids mention of cliffs and other terrain not present in New York, but it also makes the entire group far less afraid of the Ghost. Once they've accepted its existence, they don't really fear it. These are characters who might have grown up on horror movies, after all. They might have been willing to be with Hamlet at the appropriate moment, but he is more remote than most other Hamlets. He has cut himself off from them in advance, and so when the Ghost shows up, they haven't yet gone up to the apartment.
Hamlet sees the Ghost on his balcony and lets out the first few lines of the "Angels and ministers of grace" prayer. There's a neat match between the word "hell" and a fiery explosion on the television. These fires continue in a loop (they're part of Hamlet's stock footage collection) through the next scene, creating a hellish, in between the moments, space for Scene 5 to take place in.

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