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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Branagh's "To be"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.031.  Wednesday, 5 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Hugh Davis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Mar 1997 22:04:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

[2]     From:   Chris Gordon <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Mar 97 21:10:11 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

[3]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Mar 1997 00:49:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   To Be Or Not To Be, Nunneries


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Davis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Mar 1997 22:04:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

I thought the scene was indicating that Hamlet knew they were there.  I
am not sure why, except that Hamlet went directly to that mirror out of
the many choices.

--Hugh Davis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Gordon <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Mar 97 21:10:11 -0600
Subject: 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

This scene is one to which I paid particular attention, since I think
the staging and the acting of it is quite complex. My reading is that
Hamlet is legitimately suspicious when he initially enters but is _not_
aware that Polonius and Claudius are lurking behind the two-way mirrored
door. He thus delivers the speech to himself, although we (as privileged
viewers) are allowed to see the response from behind the "arras," which
I found quite effective. When Hamlet encounters Ophelia, I felt that
their initial response to one another was absolutely heartfelt and
genuine on both parts. I noticed that when Ophelia was about to begin
(or had begun) what I always think of as her "set speech" (one it almost
seems Polonius might have penned for her), she glanced toward the room,
almost as if to alert Hamlet to the presence of the others. The
interchange that followed seemed curiously formal and "acted," as if the
two of them knew they were playing a game for the auditors. Not until
Hamlet asked Ophelia flat out (but in a whisper in Branagh's
interpretation), "Where's your father?" did I have the sense that he was
finally testing her, and finds her wanting. She does not whisper back,
"Hiding in one of the rooms," and that's the moment when Hamlet seemed
to become genuinely enraged, rather than conveying the somewhat wounded
anger I saw him as playing up until that point. I found the entire scene
marvelously detailed and moving, right up through Hamlet's final
gentleness with Ophelia, her wonderful soliloquy, and Polonius's
apparently genuine concern for her. This is one reason I keep going back
to see the film again.

Chris Gordon, four viewings and counting (who would also like to present
a metaphorical Oscar for best delivery of a single line by an actor to
Rufus Sewall for the power and menace with which he says, "Go softly
on.")

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Mar 1997 00:49:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        To Be Or Not To Be, Nunneries

My chief problem with most interpretations of this scene, including
Branagh's, is that they ignore the fact he has been sent for.  He is
supposed to walk into the lobby after being told by someone offstage,
'there's someone to see you'.  He walks in, reading a book, dealing with
questions of taking action against a sea of troubles.  By SHEER
coincidence, Ophelia shows up, the one girl he has been unable to see
for months.  She proceeds to accuse him of breaking up with her, when
both know perfectly well that it was the other way around ...

Which is as much as to ask, Has anyone seen a production of Hamlet in
which the meaning of the lines and context of the scene were taken
seriously?

Andy White
Arlington, VA
 

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