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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Best Cinematic Hamlet?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1624  Wednesday, 1 September 2004

[1]     From:   Stephen C. Rose <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 07:42:03 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 07:50:08 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 12:51:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

[4]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 13:09:19 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen C. Rose <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 07:42:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

All is not lost. This thread has recently produced some nice insights:

Kenneth Chan wrote:

"The play highlights the fact that we generally refuse to face up to the
profound and to the inevitability of death. We hide from the truth by
indulging in distractions and by artificially beautifying reality to
conceal what is rotten within. The question Shakespeare is asking us is
this: Are we not mad in behaving this way? Who then is  actually sane?
This is part of the spiritual message in Hamlet."

And John Reed wrote:

"Meaning no offense to anyone on this thread (or elsewhere), but I don't
think any of them are any good.  They are too ordinary.

"Regarding whether Hamlet was mad, I don't think he was.  There is a
marked tendency nowadays (for practically everyone) to interpret all
aspects of characterization as if they belonged to the domain of
psychology.  Spirituality is generally neglected (or denied).  To my way
of thinking Hamlet has severe spiritual problems.  Perhaps many would
agree that he has problems of some kind, and a psychological view
immediately latches hold of that and transforms it into psychological
terms: hence he must be insane, or in common terms, 'mad'."

END OF QUOTES

I suppose it means the thread should be renamed Sanity and Madness in
Hamlet. That's progress. I think Hamlet is eminently sane, as is
Ophelia.  And that that is the story left to Horatio to tell. I wonder
what a movie that takes that POV would look like?

Cheers, S

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 07:50:08 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

Kenneth Chan quotes me, "OK: Madness and not madness are mutually
exclusive, except in the movie *King of Hearts*, if you get my drift?"

OK: have you *seen* the movie *King of Hearts*?

Then Kenneth Chan writes, "I am afraid I cannot agree here. No
contemporary psychiatrist would be so bold as to draw a clear
demarcating line between madness and sanity. There simply isn't such a
line."

OK: if you believe a "contemporary psychiatrist" is the best judge of
such a question, fine.  But what is a psychiatrist but a psychologist
with an M.D., so he can prescribe drugs.  Do they not have a vested
interest in deeming someone in need of drugs?

OK: was the gentleman who stopped the Olympic racer mad or sane?  Tough
one, you must agree?  However, he is not so mad that he could not get
round the world, and therefore some of us would classify him a person
who commits "criminal acts* even if the Greek authorities dubbed them
only of the lesser level called *misdemeanor.*  In any event, it was
criminal behavior.

Then Kenneth Chan writes, "In the play, I believe Shakespeare has
deliberately kept the status of Hamlet's madness ambiguous. That is, in
fact, the reason why there is no general consensus on the issue."

OK: the Blakian "tyger" *IS* back!  Shakespeare did not "deliberately
[keep] the status of [Prince] Hamlet's madness anbiguous."  Readers and
directors do.  Readers can misread to their own peril.  Directors have
faith to their art, and if their art is to misrepresent the text, for
whatever reasons, whether ignorance or intent, that is their business.
Our question is "best cinematic Hamlet" and not best director.  Thus,
the lack of consensus comes about *not* from an ambiguous text but from
ambiguous readings, whether by readers or directors.

OK: what are you afraid of?  Why not deal with the *underlying question*
of whether or not the text supports our *sweet prince* who was noble,
sane, and on the side of angels, or that other?  Is that *not* what
Shakespeare set up in Act I, the dichotomy of angels vs. devils?

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 12:51:30 -0400
Subject: 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

 >To my way
 >of thinking Hamlet has severe spiritual problems.

Was he cursed?  Had he embraced heretical errors?  Was there anything
short of a long bath in a hot fire that could cure him?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 13:09:19 -0400
Subject: Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        SHK 15.1616 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

Harvey Roy Greenberg, MD's smugness "I find it unfortunate when people
flame each other, however intellectually" beggars belief. Of course he
is holier than the rest of us. But why back humbly into the limelight in
order to proclaim the fact? Could he not just hug himself in private and
leave those who enjoy a good punch-up to our swinish pleasures? Heaven
knows, there are few enough of them (or us) left.

T. Hawkes

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