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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: January ::
Hamlet on Film and Video Responses
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 5.  Tuesday, 5 January 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Jan 1993 11:53:25 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0004  R: Jacobi Hamlet; Q: Burton Hamlet
 
(2)     From:   Gus Sponberg <ASPONBERG@VALPO>
        Date:   Tuesday,  5 Jan 1993 09:22 CST
        Subj:   Burton's Hamlet
 
(3)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Tuesday, January 5, 1993
        Subj:   Burton's Hamlet
 
 
(1)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Jan 1993 11:53:25 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 4.0004  R: Jacobi Hamlet; Q: Burton Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0004  R: Jacobi Hamlet; Q: Burton Hamlet
 
I'm sure that Kevin Berland and I will agree to disagree on the
Ophelia in the BBC _Hamlet_: I'll grant the strengths he mentions but
find them insufficient to overcome the negatives; he seems willing to
grant the criticisms but finds them outweighed by positives.  Fine.
 
But I would like to follow up on his parenthetical comment, "I find Ophelias
who are intellectual and moral matches for Hamlet anachronistic and beside the
point".  The first point, about anachronism, is probably true at least
at a literal level: it is unlikely the Shakespeare conceived of
Ophelia as an intellectual or moral match for Hamlet.  So a "strong"
Ophelia is indeed anachronistic: but so is a sympathetic Shylock or a
Petruchio who isn't celebrated for his male chauvinism . . . or, for that
matter, a _female_ Ophelia!
 
What interests me here is that it would _not_ be anachronistic for a
_comic_ female character to be both sympathetic and strong, but that
combination is almost unheard of in tragedy (Cordelia, maybe?).  And
if such a female character _does_ appear in a tragedy or a history,
she almost certainly must be rendered comic in some way: e.g. the
thick accent of Katherine of France in _Henry V_.  I wonder if anyone
could suggest some sources to explore the distinction in gender terms
between comedy, wherein, for example, Rosalind clearly has far more on
the ball than Orlando ever will, and tragedy, wherein Ophelia can only
be "nice".
 
One final question for Kevin, which I hope won't be misinterpreted:
when you call "strong" Ophelias "anachronistic and beside the point",
are you making two separate criticisms, or is being "beside the point"
an extension of anachronism?  Am I making sense?  :>
 
Rick Jones
Cornell College
 
(2)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gus Sponberg <ASPONBERG@VALPO>
Date:           Tuesday,  5 Jan 1993 09:22 CST
Subject:        Burton's Hamlet
 
Add me to Leo Daugherty's request for a copy of a video of Burton's
Hamlet. I have an LP of Burton doing scenes and soliloquies and have
used it to good effect but I think a video would be more appealing
in the classroom.
 
Gus Sponberg
Valparaiso University
 
(3)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Tuesday, January 5, 1993
Subject:        Burton's Hamlet
 
It's my understanding that Burton "hated" the filmed version of his *Hamlet*,
which showed for a few days in 1964, and ordered that ALL prints of the film
be destroyed.  After Burton's death, however, a print was recovered and is
available at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
 
I have fond memories of the film, but I was a high school student at the time
and not nearly as knowledgeable as I am today (or so I hope).  I still have the
souvenir program and an excerpt record (a student has mention having the full
production on records), but I wouldn't imagine that a video of the production
would be forthcoming unless arrangements were made with Burton's estate.  It
seems that if you would like to see the film again, you'll have to visit
Washington, D.C.
 
Hardy M. Cook

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Bowie State University
 

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