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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0482  Wednesday, 20 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 May 1998 15:08:52 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 9.0478  Re: Branagh's and Jennings's *Hamlet*s

[2]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 May 1998 20:53:09 EDT
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 9.0478  Re: Branagh's and Jennings's *Hamlet*s


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 May 1998 15:08:52 -0700
Subject: Re: Branagh's and Jennings's *Hamlet*s -Reply
Comment:        SHK 9.0478  Re: Branagh's and Jennings's *Hamlet*s -Reply

I'm not sure why I find it so difficult to hear all the knocks against
Branagh's Hamlet.  Perhaps I need to spend time on a couch to sort it
out.  It is particularly odd since I agree with most of the negative
comments.  I also think they miss the point.

As I experience the film, it is very flawed.  The more I focus on the
details, the more I disagree with many of Branagh's decisions.  Though I
am less bothered by the setting and casting than many, they are not
ideal.  I am more bothered by the music and textual paradoxes caused by
conflating, but I still don't care.  Branagh fixed his target very
high.  By using such a full text he created an impossible challenge that
he was not able to meet.

What a challenge it was!  By cutting the text, he would have cut Hamlet
down to size and made him more playable.  By cutting the text he would
have cut the play down to size and made it better suited to the new
medium.  That he came as close to the target as he did, considering the
impossibility of a bulls eye, is a considerable achievement in my
estimation.  I forgive the flaws because he achieved so much.  I applaud
the effort more then the result, but the result ain't bad.

For me, the four hours went quickly by.  Compare it to the Othello of a
couple of years ago.  Those two hours seemed like four!

Pointing out Branagh mistakes if fair game.  Recent postings, by
concentrating of the flaws tacitly assume there is nothing right with
the picture.  I believe there is - a lot.  I'm not sure it is the one
version of Hamlet I'd bring to a desert island, but I could do much
worse.

Best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 May 1998 20:53:09 EDT
Subject: 9.0478  Re: Branagh's and Jennings's *Hamlet*s
Comment:        Re:  SHK 9.0478  Re: Branagh's and Jennings's *Hamlet*s

My main memory of the Branagh Hamlet was the soliloquy immediately
preceding intermission.  The combination of his absolutely-not-right
delivery and the matching camera work made me think he was about to
swear that neither he nor the royal house would ever go hungry again.
I felt, though I did not see, that he was clutching a turnip.

Wait--"squeeze blood from a turnip".... was that a... motif??  I take it
all back.  The man is a genius.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
Newnan, GA
 

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