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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Hamlets
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1087  Monday, 22 April 2002

[1]     From:   Graham Bradshaw <
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        Date:   Sunday, 21 Apr 2002 00:54:53 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1075 Re: Hamlets

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Saturday, 20 Apr 2002 10:52:34 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1075 Re: Hamlets

[3]     From:   Roger Gross <
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        Date:   Saturday, 20 Apr 2002 14:05:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1066 Re: Hamlets

[4]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Sunday, 21 Apr 2002 16:47:09 -0400
        Subj:   Hamlets


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Bradshaw <
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Date:           Sunday, 21 Apr 2002 00:54:53 +0900
Subject: 13.1075 Re: Hamlets
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1075 Re: Hamlets

To throw in my own pennyworth, Zeffirelli's fast-food Hamlet seemed to
me unimpressive, facile, and derivative, but I too was impressed by
Gibson, or as much as he was allowed to do. He had of course acted in
Shakespeare before, and had been well trained as a classical actor in
NIDA. When the film came out, I was shocked by all the automatic sneers
at the idea of an Aussie, or Aussie-American, playing the Prince.
Especially in the British press!

I don't think he was as good as Smoktunovsky, in the Kozintsev film, who
seemed to me an ideal Hamlet, if one could allow for the Russian origin.
And I think Burton's, and Gielgud's or Olivier's, Hamlets more nuanced
than Gibson's. Still, I thought Gibson himself impressive, and thought
he made a good case for a virile, energetic Hamlet--which was obviously
what Zeffirelli wanted. Maybe Gibson's performance should be compared
with that of Sarah Bernhardt, who said she wanted to play the role
because the male Hamlets were too effeminate!

If you use the pause button on your video, you can catch and freeze the
wonderful moment when Gibson's Hamlet is looking up at Alan Bates's
Claudius in a castle window. Bates indulges his goggle-eyed mannerism,
and, for a splendid split second, Gibson does a wickedly perfect
imitation!  The intelligent Aussie nailing the mannered Pom.

I think of Gibson as one of those actors who can be wonderful, but is
hardly ever stretched, or encouraged to give of his best, in dumbed-down
Hollywood. Like, say, Robert Ryan (eg, in Billy Budd) or Robert Mitchum
(eg, in Night of the Hunter).  But it's unfair to blame the actor for
the director's narcissistic superficialities, isn't it?

Best wishes,
Graham Bradshaw

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Saturday, 20 Apr 2002 10:52:34 -0700
Subject: 13.1075 Re: Hamlets
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1075 Re: Hamlets

Karen Peterson correctly writes:

>... attributing the text cuts of the Zeffirelli
>version to Gibson himself is, if not inaccurate, at least an
>oversimplification.

It is inaccurate.  Gibson and other actors argued to include more of the
text after reading Zeffirelli's first draft screenplay.  There have been
several false statements about the film in the past week.  Please see my
interview with Mel in the April 1991 issue of *Shakespeare on Film
Newsletter*, vol. 15, #2.

Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Gross <
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Date:           Saturday, 20 Apr 2002 14:05:47 -0500
Subject: 13.1066 Re: Hamlets
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1066 Re: Hamlets

I think the "lunkhead" comments about Mel Gibson's Hamlet may be
examples of knee-jerk anti-movie-star prejudice.

I was lucky to be a participant in the amazing three-day HAMLET
symposium Marvin Rosenberg organized at U. Cal, Berkeley several years
ago.  A highly-qualified international panel of scholars discussed the
play for an audience of 250.  It was wonderful.

Mel Gibson, who had just finished filming HAMLET joined us for one day
and he fit in beautifully.  It was very clear that he knew exactly what
he was saying and that he had wrestled with all of the problems.  He was
not at a disadvantage in the debate.

There is much that I don't like about that film but I lay all my
complaints at Zefferelli's feet.  He has no faith in actors or text.
Architecture and camera movement seem to be the only things he trusts
and he disrupted what might have been very good moments by his
restlessness.

I blame the directors for the weaknesses of the Olivier and Branagh
films, too.  They both are strong arguments for keeping the leading
actors out of the director's chair.  And the directorial weaknesses of
the Olivier film I blame mainly on Ernest Jones, Olivier's psychoanalyst
at the time (the author of HAMLET AND OEDIPUS) who filled Olivier's head
with all kinds of nonsense about Hamlet.

Roger Gross
U. of Arkansas

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Sunday, 21 Apr 2002 16:47:09 -0400
Subject:        Hamlets

Paul Scofield--fragile, gentle, lacking both armor and a martial
bearing--is not quite the Ghost that Shakespeare had in mind.  No
matter: he's wonderful.  The worldly and otherworldly agony that thrills
and trembles through his voice!  Yet he does it with the utmost
restraint and delicacy.  His performance is the only thing I cherish in
that film, and my only reason for purchasing the video.

--Charles Weinstein

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