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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: December ::
Another R: Mel Gibson *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 372. Saturday, 12 December 1992.
 
From:           Jeff Taylor <GR4302@SIUCVMB>
Date:           Saturday, 12 December 1992, 08:32:00 CST
Subject:        Gib's & Zef's *Hamlet*
 
I must agree that the underlying meanings of *Hamlet* seemed to me
entirely lost without the Fortinbras scene at the end.  It is well
noted, though, that for modern audiences the story is most important,
not what it may represent.  However, I'm sure that Renaissance
audiences would have taken this lack of resolution as a dirty trick,
or maybe even some dark, pessimistic message.  This, of course, is
another clue that Shakespeare did NOT write for all times and places.
In a sense, this movie is Zef's (and our) *Hamlet*, based on Shakespeare's.
And how could it have been anything else?  The other thing that bothered
me about it was the very stark presentation of the castle and its
inhabitants.  This is a very modern, puritan view of life, the Medieval
world, the Renaissance stage and Shakespeare--and therefore entirely
off-base.  Again, today the story counts, not the informative iconography
(lost without the rich pagenatry) and the underlying meanings, which would've
been (IMHO) clear to Renaissance audiences of all classes.  'Kernel &
Husk' theory behind art was still very present in those days and was
a part of the cultural epistemology of Europe, not some monk's clever
idea about literature.  Since we cannot be Medieval/Renaissance Europeans,
I suppose that all renditions of their art in modern media will participate
in a dramatic aesthetics defined by the Romantics, and Enlightenment
naturalism, rather than by the mediated epistemology of pre-modern
Europe.  Still, as scholars, we should recognize the difference--that is,
we must recognize the difference or we'll lose Shakespeare and be left
with Gib and Zef.  Don't get me wrong--there's nothing wrong with modern
aesthetics, it just doesn't correspond with the past.
 
Jeff Taylor
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

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