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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Branagh's Hamlet; Iago; Helsingborg
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0164.  Monday, 3 February 1997.

(1)     From:   Elizabeth Blye Schmitt <
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        Date:   Sunday, 2 Feb 1997 12:14:40 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Branagh's Hamlet

(2)     From:   H.R. Greenberg <
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        Date:   Saturday, 1 Feb 1997 19:12:35 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Music in "Hamlet"

(3)     From:   Rick Kincaid <
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        Date:   Saturday, 1 Feb 1997 10:55:21 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Branagh's Othello

(4)     From:   Lisa Hopkins <
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        Date:   Monday, 03 Feb 97 11:16:00 GMT
        Subj:   Helsingborg and Matamoros


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Blye Schmitt <
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Date:           Sunday, 2 Feb 1997 12:14:40 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Branagh's Hamlet

My husband and I ventured out early last Sunday morning to see a 10am screening
of HAMLET. The overall impression was not just favorable, but astounding. After
so many years of seeing various cuts, my brain had trouble ackowledging that,
yes, that IS where that speech goes, and that, quite logically, HAMLET makes a
lot more sense after SEEING it all together and in the right order.

Without spoiling the experience I would like to note that it was
nice/pleasant/appreciated to see a)Ophelia deliver the speech about Hamlet with
doublet unbraced without benefit of flashback; b)casting Gerard Depardieu as
Reynaldo--hey, Laertes is in France, have a Frenchman spy on him; c)having a
closet scene without Gertrude literally being jumped on by her son and causing
the great Oedipaal debate to break out; d)no shots of Ophelia drifting
downstream--although with the snowstorm that was raging outside, it might have
been hard to gather those flowers; e)well, I think you get the idea...

I would like to know why Branagh felt it necessary to take the "how all
occasions do inform against me" speech and turn it into Hamlet's version of St.
Crispin's Day. His tendency to go for volume over intimacy was, at times,
annoying, but he is the director.

I recommend an investment in the companion volume which contains screenplay,
introduction (Branagh) and film diary (partial and by Russell Jackson). The
cost is $17 and it has lots of photos.

Toss up question for the crowd, do you think Branagh's choices for Fortinbras
at the end of the fillm may have been influenced by the Ingmar Bergman
production (within last 5 to 10 years) where "Go bid the soldiers shoot" was
quite literally aimed at Horatio?

Elizabeth Schmitt
Dallas, TX

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H.R. Greenberg <
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Date:           Saturday, 1 Feb 1997 19:12:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Music in "Hamlet"

I haven't been following the "Hamlet" thread, but has there been any mention of
the score, especially in comparison with Walton's music for Olivier's film? I
have not heard so much bad, bathetic  music playing so constantly, and often so
loudly underneath a narrative since Hollywood Forties' B pictures. The result
was often terribly disruptive, notably in the "How all occasions do inform
against me..." soliloquy, set against Fortinbras' troops marching towards
Poland, which terminates the film's first section. I do not know whether
Branagh intentended it so, but the execrable music was brought up so loud as to
virtually drown out this very important speech (at least at the Paris theater
in NY).. Perhaps the director intended to further dwarf Hamlet's lame protest
against the reality of Fortinbras' "stirring with great intent". Comments on
the music in general, and its specific use in the latter instance would be
appreciated.

H.R. Greenberg

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Kincaid <
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Date:           Saturday, 1 Feb 1997 10:55:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Branagh's Othello

If I'm not mistaken, Branagh played Iago in the film, but it was not his movie.
He did not make the cuts  in the text, or direct or edit the film. He was, in
this case, an actor playing a role.

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lisa Hopkins <
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Date:           Monday, 03 Feb 97 11:16:00 GMT
Subject:        Helsingborg and Matamoros

Barbara Everett, in her book _Young Hamlet: Essays on Shakespeare's Tragedies_,
points to similarities between Helsingborg and the Elsinore of the play,
including the tapestries of the kings.  In the same book, she also discusses
the Santiago Matamoros idea at some length.  A number of other people have
written about the real Helsingborg, perhaps most notably Martin Holmes in _The
Guns of Elsinore_.

Lisa Hopkins
Sheffield Hallam University

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