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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0035.  Saturday, 11 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Jan 1997 09:17:46 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*

(2)     From:   Ed Bonahue <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Jan 1997 11:29:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*

(3)     From:   Timothy Reed <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Jan 1997 09:42:02 -0700
        Subj:   Branagh's HAMLET

(4)     From:   Joe Shea <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Jan 1997 20:04:03 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0023 Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*

(5)     From:   Stanley D. McKenzie <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 Jan 1997 12:34:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   8.0030 Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Jan 1997 09:17:46 +0000 (HELP)
Subject:        Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*

It does not lead to "shallow acting" when the movie director does several takes
of different reactions in different moods. Film acting, as every actor knows,
is augmented, altered, highlighted, focussed, backgrounded, etc., by director,
editor, music, camera angle, lighting and other variable influences, rendering
the art thoroughly a director's medium. Further, any actor worth his salt --and
Sir Derek is worth many kilograms of it--can produce any "emotion" at any given
time or ought not to be in the movies. As old Stanislavski said, "The chief
secret of our art is to produce the desired emotion at the advertised hour."

Further and perhaps most importantly, the multifarious facial and bodily
responses invited of Claudius by Kenneth Branagh in his director's role are
tiny and subtle. Sir Derek most likely did not have to move many of his muscles
at all, but mainly put himself in the emotional state of guilt, surprise, or
whatever, and camera and audience does the rest. If there ever were a medium in
which un-performing encourages the interpretative skills of the audience, it is
film. I think that most objections to Andy White's anecdote are based on the
conventions of stage acting instead.

A particularly delicious piece of Danish Blue such as *The Mousetrap* surely
solicits a finely varied lot of reactions from Claudius, who has probably seen
better plays anyway.

        Harry Hill
        Montreal

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Bonahue <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Jan 1997 11:29:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*

Regarding Claudius' reactions to the Mousetrap and why he sits there so long
before interrupting the performance:  There is a relevant convention in revenge
tragedy by which the monarch, who is usually at the root of the revenger's
woes, is the last to recognize the plot being hatched against him.  The obvious
examples include the kings in Kyd's _Spanish Tragedy_ and Tourneur's
_Revenger's Tragedy_, both of whom are oblivious to the action taking place
around them.

The Mousetrap is different, of course, because it is a test of the Ghost's
reliability and the king's guilt rather than a means to revenge.  And Claudius,
though he sits silently through the dumb show, finally does recognize Hamlet's
purpose.  But there are certainly revenge-play parallels for royal
silence/inactivity/confusion, however temporary Claudius' may be.

Ed Bonahue
University of Florida

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Reed <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Jan 1997 09:42:02 -0700
Subject:        Branagh's HAMLET

For those in the conference unfamiliar with all aspects of the Internet, there
is a public message base called USENET on which thousands of topics are
discussed in different forums. Many forums deal with popular culture,
especially television and movies. It is considered polite when discussing a
film or show to include a SPOILER warning if the text of the article would give
away a major surprise or the ending. So imagine my bemusement upon running
across the following subject line

Subject: Ending Of Branagh's HAMLET - SPOILER!!

but as I pondered the humor, I realized there *are* some people who will see
this film not knowing what the ending will be. We of the inner circles of
Shakespearean knowledge often automatically assume that yes, of course everyone
knows how "Hamlet" ends, and it is refreshing to step back and remember our
excitement the first time we saw or read the play. So go and find someone who
doesn't know "Hamlet" and treat them to an evening at the movies.

(Or better yet, a live performance if one is in the area. This would be a
perfect time to plug The Upstart Crow Theatre Company's upcoming performances
of "Hamlet" in an uncut text...First Folio with First Quarto
emendations...opening Feb. 28th in Boulder, Colorado. Info on the Web at
http://www.serve.com/upstart)

Timothy Reed
The Upstart Crow Theatre Company
Boulder, Colorado

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Shea <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Jan 1997 20:04:03 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 8.0023 Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0023 Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*

We are in need of an intelligent but accessible review of Branagh's "Hamlet."
Any takers?  Write to me for Copy Guidelines.

Best,
Joe Shea
Editor-in-Chief
The American Reporter

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http://www.newshare.com:9999

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stanley D. McKenzie <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 Jan 1997 12:34:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        8.0030 Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*

As usual, Norm Holland (my first professor of Shakespeare back in the early
60's) is right on target!  By editing clips from Jacobi's different takes
between the cutaways, Branagh creates a performance which Jacobi never actually
gave as an actor.

          Stan McKenzie
          RIT
 

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