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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: September ::
Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2232  Thursday, 27 September 2001

[1]     From:   Mark Harris <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Sep 2001 11:09:34 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2210 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Sep 2001 12:23:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2210 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

[3]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Sep 2001 18:22:30 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2210 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

[4]     From:   Andrew W. White <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Sep 2001 22:56:12 -0400
        Subj:   Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mark Harris <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Sep 2001 11:09:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.2210 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2210 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

Charles Weinstein wrote:

> I was bothered by the cuts throughout.  I would be
> surprised if the film
> retained even one-twelfth of the text.

A sheerly hyberbolic statement, believe me.

> 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.

After a century of "director's theater" - not all of which, I am hasten
to add, I approve of - I am genuinely surprised that people are still
fighting these battles. I am as much of a full-text enthusiast as
anyone, but surely that is not the only way to go about things.
Charles's argument is, at root, a theoretical one that would declare
Branagh's Hamlet automatically superior to Kozintsev's on the ground
that it presents a complete text in the right order and doesn't take
"liberties." I strongly disagree with this. Shakespeare's texts weren't
sacrosanct in Shakespeare's own day; and theater - do I really need to
point this out? - is much more than words. We can all read the play
anytime we want. But theater demands more, and film has its own
additional requirements for effectiveness. I detect a pronounced
anti-visual bias in Charles's dismissal of "lovely," "evocative,"
"beautiful" illustrative images. Stage-plays and movies are not
picture-books for written texts!  Kozintsev's sinewy (not "lovely")
images contribute to a remarkable *interpretation*, not illustration, of
Shakespeare's long and difficult play. Two of the greatest and most
respectful Shakespearean films ever made, Akira Kurosawa's Throne of
Blood and Ran, preserve not a word of Shakespeare's texts, yet are, as
Kozintsev's film is, and as Verdi's Shakespeare operas are,
electrifyingly illuminating of those texts. A critical demand for
unvarying literalism is limiting and short-sighted.

Mark R. Harris

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Sep 2001 12:23:44 -0700
Subject: 12.2210 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2210 Re: Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

Charles Weinstein observes that,

>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?

I got the feeling, through a Russophone would have to confirm it, that
the sub-titles represented somewhat less than the characters actually
said.  The reason for this would be simple:  few people can read as
quickly as they can listen.  If I'm right, and I'm not sure that I am,
then the intended audience would get far more of the script than would
people like me.

Cheers,
Se

 

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