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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: September ::
Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2210  Tuesday, 25 September 2001

[1]     From:   Lucia Anna Setari <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 Sep 2001 08:55:22 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

[2]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 Sep 2001 14:56:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

[3]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Sep 2001 22:47:40 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lucia Anna Setari <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 Sep 2001 08:55:22 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

> Was no one bothered by the extensive cuts in the
> last scene?

Me. They seemed to deaden the last sentence (which comes rather like a
quotation: Kozintsev's Hamlet quoting Shakespeare's).

Lucia Anna

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 Sep 2001 14:56:30 -0400
Subject: 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

Mary Jane Miller asks if anyone was bothered by the extensive cuts in
the last scene.

I was bothered by the extensive cuts throughout. This is often a
condition of Hamlet productions, of course. Though some cuts can, and
maybe should, be made, the volume of cutting takes its toll, even on
productions as generally good as this movie.

They cut the first scene, for example. It can be argued that what's lost
is made up later. But I miss the sense of mystery and dread that infuses
the second scene when it comes after the first. I miss the history of
Hamlet and Fortinbras, and the background on young Fortinbras, which
establishes a parallel with Hamlet's intention to revenge his father's
death. I miss the atmosphere, the speculation about ghosts, the
introduction of Christian and Roman imagery. So much in this mysterious
play depends on such atmosphere, on hints at the subterranean, and
subconscious, movements of thought and feeling that underlie the action.
There's a thin line between mystery and incoherence. Kozintsev's film
did not become as incoherent as, say, Almereyda's, but by the end I felt
I was watching another anthology of Great Scenes, or even Great Lines
from Hamlet.

Among the cuts is one I haven't seen before. When Claudius after the
play soliloquizes about the problem of repentance, Hamlet is nowhere to
be seen.  His move to revenge, which then must be scanned, and abandoned
because it would send Claudius to heaven, is gone. He simply goes from
the play to his mother's closet.

When so much is cut you may forget that Christianity exists. You lose
the sense of Christianity as a force inhibiting Hamlet's revenge. In
Almereyda's, with Claudius as a corporate chieftain, all sense of
Hamlet's princely duty to the order of the state vanishes too. It's not
much of a factor for Kozintsev either. Hamlet doesn't say much about
delaying. It seems you have to know the play to fill in the gaps.

In the play Hamlet saves the stolen commission and gives it to Horatio,
implicitly to serve later as evidence of Claudius's tyranny. Kozintsev's
Hamlet, shown stealing it on the ship, simply burns it. A small thing,
perhaps, but I think it shows a lack of understanding of the forces at
work in the play, and in Hamlet's mind.

I wonder what people think is going on in Hamlet anyway, but moreso with
productions like this. What's on the screen I generally liked. It's
what's missing that gives me pause.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Sep 2001 22:47:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2195 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

Mary Jane Miller asks:  "Was no one bothered by the extensive cuts in
the last scene?"

I was bothered by the cuts throughout.  I would be surprised if the film
retained even one-twelfth of the text.  How can anyone regard such an
evisceration as a serious production of Hamlet?  How can anyone maintain
that images, however lovely or evocative, are equivalent to, or an
acceptable substitute for, Shakespeare's words?  Are we to
synecdochically take the part for the whole, inferring the complete text
from the shreds and patches that are left?  Or are we to see this film
merely as a series of beautiful illustrations?  Either way, the play
that Shakespeare wrote is absent.

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