Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0485  Thursday, 21 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 20 May 1998 08:59:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*

[2]     From:   Phyllis Rackin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 20 May 1998 09:14:24 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*

[3]     From:   Peter T. Hadorn <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 20 May 1998 10:31:47 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 20 May 1998 08:59:48 -0400
Subject: 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*

We who teach Shakespeare might well be biting the hand that feeds us in
attacking Branagh for having the nerve to ask for the money to produce a
four-hour, full-text Hamlet.  Perhaps a producer asked for a naked
Winslett and Branagh in return?

I could make a case for Branagh's being responsible for the new
popularity of Shakespeare, with his Henry V (my students when it came
out went around humming the themes), his Much Ado, and his Hamlet.
Branagh, in other words, is our meal ticket.  His Hamlet may take a few
liberties (I loved Dame Judy Dench as a mute Hecuba, so I won't go after
the cameos), but it is at worst an ambitious, large-scale, brilliant
failure-if it is a failure at all.

Roy Flannagan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Phyllis Rackin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 20 May 1998 09:14:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*

>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.

No turnip, but most definitely Scarlett.  Dale Lyles isn't the first to
have noted the echo of GWTW.  Perhaps the allusion is deliberate, and
those of us who loathe Branagh's kitschy *Hamlet* are missing the
point.  Has anyone reviewed the production as deliberate camp?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter T. Hadorn <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 20 May 1998 10:31:47 -0500
Subject: 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0482  Re: Branagh's *Hamlet*

I, too, feel the need to come to Branagh's defense.  If we begin
objecting to the directorial decisions that he-or anyone, for that
matter-is going to make, at what point do we require a director do no
more than dress his or her actors in Elizabethan costume, have them
stand still on a bare stage, and deliver their lines?  A director must
make such decisions and I agree completely with Mike Jenson who writes,
"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 for one am glad that this version will replace (I hope) the Mel Gibson
*Hamlet* as the one students will actually rent from the video store to
see.  It offers more of the "text" for them to become familiar with (and
in the order that was at least more closely intended than the version
Zefferelli offered).   And the animated discussion we had in class after
its viewing shows that students can tell-and evaluate-the difference
between what is the director and what is "Shakespeare."

Finally, let me defend one of the choices that was remarked on earlier:
putting a prostitute in Polonius' bed.  One of the themes I see at work
in the play is the notion that men inherently lust after and degrade
women.  As Polonius says to Reynaldo, one of the "usual slips/ As are
companions noted and most known/ To youth and liberty" is "drabbing",
i.e., whoring.  Hamlet himself recognizes this and is unsure who's to
blame: men or women ("I could accuse me of such things it were better my
mother had not borne me" and, alternately, "wise men know well enough
what monsters you make of them").  To put a prostitute in Polonius' bed
emphasizes this theme.

My hat is off to Branagh and I eagerly await his next Shakespearean
endeavor.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.