The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0568 Friday, 24 March 2000.
Date: Wednesday, 22 Mar 2000 12:55:31 -0600
Subject: Re: Stage Combat
Comment: SHK 11.0424 Re: Stage Combat
This may be a long dead thread but I was clearing out my e-mail and
found it again Ariadne-like.
In response to Mary Jane Miller, I think you will find that Olivier's
Hamlet does not disarm Laertes of his rapier by forcing him downwards
but actually beats the blade up into the air and then stands on it when
it hits the ground, after Laertes attempts to pick it up. He then
reverses his own sword and hands it to Laertes (by the blade, with no
gloves on-ouch!--or perhaps oops! clearly showing his own sword to be a
modern fencing weapon). Yes, it is a splendid sequence, very
swashbuckly-and often repeated with variations (see the
Zeffirelli/Gibson/Hobbs duel sequence or the Kline/Kline/Barry
However, I think the stage direction (Folio) actually states, "They
exchange weapons [or rapiers]" and then the injuries begin to
occur-"they bleed on both sides." If this order of events is followed,
an exchange occurs, during which Hamlet is injured, not BECAUSE of the
injury. There are advantages to this, one obvious one being Hamlet's
sudden supr-human hero qualities in the duel, where he seems to outclass
the more experienced duelist at every turn and comes away without a
scratch-a highly unlikely scenario, given the regularity of stop hits
and other double contact maneuvers.