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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: The Almereyda *Hamlet*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1166  Tuesday, 6 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Jun 2000 11:20:49 -0500
        Subj:   The Almereyda *Hamlet*

[2]     From:   Andrew W. White <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Jun 2000 15:47:46 -0400
        Subj:   The Almereyda *Hamlet*

[3]     From:   Joanne Gates <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Jun 2000 15:48:25 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Reviews of Hamlet 2000


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Jun 2000 11:20:49 -0500
Subject:        The Almereyda *Hamlet*

Concerning the new Hamlet film: I am reminded of an experience I had
some years ago. Like most Americans I had an incorrect idea of what the
phrase "not cricket" meant. (There is a parallel instance in not knowing
what the verb "upstage" really meant until I started acting.) I thought
it meant that something was unfair. I was corrected by an Englishman (or
a Britisher, since it might have been my Scottish cousin who loved to
correct his American relations) who informed me (I presume accurately)
that it referred to various bastardized forms of the game sometimes
found in the colonies where the actual rules of the Marylebone Cricket
Club were unknown. That is, you can play any number of games with bats
and balls and wickets, but if these games don't follow the true rules
then they are "not cricket."

You can present a series of characters and events-a murdered father, a
usurped throne, a half mad prince, a truly mad young woman, conspiracy
and spying and death on a wholesale basis-but is it Hamlet? Some people
want to modernize the language because so much of Shakespeare's meaning
is lost, and more will be so every year. Others want to bring out hidden
meanings through visual images. Film has many differences from drama-as
a form of fiction it probably relates more to the novel-so that if you
wish to translate drama to film, you risk making a lifeless home video
of a play, or else a new work that has little in common with the what
you set out to honor. At what point does it become "not Hamlet" because
it so far a field from what Shakespeare wrote?

I have no answer, but I do confess to a strong suspicion of people who
consider themselves wiser and more talented than the Bard. Moreover, I
have had too much pleasure acting Shakespeare to consider his work dead
quite yet, and thus in need of some kind of electro-galvanic
resurrection. The results too often turn out to be mere zombies.

don bloom

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew W. White <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Jun 2000 15:47:46 -0400
Subject:        The Almereyda *Hamlet*

Having just seen it myself, at the Dupont Circle 5 in Washington DC-and
no, that's not the name of a gang-I found myself agreeing with a lot of
what has already been said.  The film tries to do what film does
best-use images to tell a story, and that is its virtue as well as its
chief shortcoming.

Sam Shepherd's Ghost was a revelation for me-the high point of the
film.  He is the first one I have seen who, when he says 'Pity me not,'
really means it.  But it is also typical of the film that, in order to
position the Ghost as coming from someplace not-so-nice, Almereyda has
Hamlet's TV showing some oil-rig fire by sheer coincidence.

Which brings me to my next point; the kind of viewing expected of this
_Hamlet_'s audience is unusual to say the least.  The screen image is
deliberately fragmented into distinct elements, some of which function
on a literal level and some of which appear to work on the subconscious
of the viewer, but I could be very wrong on this.  The oil-rig fire for
me is a case-in-point; how is that TV-image supposed to register on us?
It would appear to refer to Purgatory-and yet it is unmistakably an
oil-rig fire, and maybe we're just projecting our expectations/knowledge
onto a film that defies our own projections.

On a more catty note, Ethan Hawke seems to expect us to project _our_
concepts of Hamlet onto his performance.  I'd swear he adopted this
slacker pose in order to make sure that he doesn't interfere with our
own ideas about the Dane. Take that as you will; I found it incredibly
annoying, but then again there may be ravers and Gen-Xers who think it's
great stuff.

The music, well, the Italian Futurists called it the 'art of noise,' and
I think that fits the bill ....

Andy White
Arlington, VA

P.S.-Were there any comments at the Q&A about Hamlet's taste in
reading?  I was taken with his collection of Mayakovsky, and that German
edition of Brecht and Weill's _Mahogonny_ ...

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joanne Gates <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Jun 2000 15:48:25 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Reviews of Hamlet 2000

The internet movie database, www.us.imdb.com, has started to add links
to the posted reviews of Hamlet.

(Do a search from the main page, on title, Hamlet: all versions are
listed, usually in reverse chronology with most recent first, click on
2000.)  On the left side bar, there are three categories of comment in
addition to show times, release dates, and so forth:  User comments
(posted directly to the site), external reviews and newsgroup reviews.

Salon Magazine's by Stephanie Zacharek is quite a rave.

Joanne Gates
 

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