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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Branagh
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1177  Thursday, 19 November 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Nov 1998 09:02:11 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1169  Re: Branagh

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Nov 1998 09:02:11 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1169  Re: Branagh

[3]     From:   Andrew Murphy <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 10:26:35 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1169 Re: Branagh


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Nov 1998 09:02:11 -0800
Subject: 9.1169  Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1169  Re: Branagh

Drew asks:

> Imagine a poster that said "The Full Q2 Hamlet."  Who the hell but us
> would know what was meant by that.

Why advertise a production as "full" anyway?  Why not just say
"Shakespeare's Hamlet", and leave it at that?

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pixley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Nov 1998 16:29:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.1169 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1169 Re: Branagh

> When I first saw that soliloquy, yes, I thought that it was a bit
> overstaged and did not suit the intimate feelings that the soliloquy
> seemed to offer.  But, in fact, the more I watched the movie, the more I
> realized that I had been used to a particular kind of staging and was
> unable to adapt my vision to the one of the director. The sequence
> actually began to grow on me and now it's become one of my favourite out
> of the whole movie. In one single shot, Branagh goes against the
> traditional staging of the soliloquy on film : instead of using a
> forward move towards the character, he uses a backward traveling shot
> that we usually find in epic sequences (see the "Once more unto the
> breach" in Olivier's Henry V, for example). With this special use of the
> camera, the soliloquy becomes a kind of exhortation, a call to action,
> as if Hamlet led Fortinbras' army marching in the background. I don't
> say that this is a good or a bad choice. But I do say it is an
> interesting one. Moreover, as the camera moves back, we see Hamlet's
> body becoming smaller and smaller, dissolving in the snowy landscape, as
> if Hamlet was disappearing into space, leaving only his voice to state
> his "bloody thoughts".

Thank you for sharing that description of Branagh's filming.  As
probably the only person on the list who has not yet had a chance to see
the film, I was totally captivated by your last sentence.  The
dissolving away of Hamlet's obsession with a rational approach to
revenge and his tramsfpormation into a kind of existential readiness
seems to me to climax in this soliloquy, so that when he returns in the
graveyard scene and in his later talk with Horatio, he is puzzling out
the implications of this epiphany that occured in the only outdoor scene
of the play.  The filmed presentation sounds breathtaking.

Ed Pixley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Murphy <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 10:26:35 +0000
Subject: 9.1169 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1169 Re: Branagh

>Imagine a poster that said "The Full Q2 Hamlet."  Who the hell but us
>would know what was meant by that. (Drew Whitehead)

Oh, I don't know-I find the idea of such a poster a rather cheerful
possibility!

More seriously: though I like the Branagh film, warts & all, I find it
strange that, given that it is hedged about so much with markers of a
certain kind of 'authenticity' (including its own edition, with a film
diary by Russell Jackson), I find the 'full text' claim a little bit
odd, given that it ignores recent work which suggests that Q2 and F
_Hamlet_ (like Q and F _Lear_ and Q and F _Othello_, etc) represent
distinctive versions of the play, possibly (though not necessarily)
pointing to a revision of the text by Shakespeare. Given that Branagh
decided to try to film the entire printed text, it might have been more
interesting had he stuck to one version or the other, rather than
conflating the two. I don't think this would have necessitated special
signalling in the advertising- any more than van Sant's _Idaho_ required
a poster which pointed out that it contained scenes from the second
tetralogy, mediated through Welles' _Chimes at Midnight_. (But, then,
Samuel Johnson once remarked that textual studies are unlikely to make
anyone a happier person-and he was a man speaking from personal
experience!)

>In a Shakespeare movie, what interests me is
>what Shakespeare's plays *become* when they are put on film, a medium
>for which they were *not* written. (Sarah Hatchuel)

Me too. But I think we'll just agree to differ about 'All occasions' -
for me it doesn't work & seems forced.

Cheers
Andrew
 

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