Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
Best Cinematic Hamlet?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1589  Wednesday, 25 August 2004

[1]     From:   Tad Davis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 10:59:39 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

[2]     From:   Matt Henerson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 12:45:01 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 12:24:35 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

[4]     From:   David Levine <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 20:58:41 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 10:59:39 -0400
Subject: 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

Campbell Scott's version is well-acted, "Law & Order" casting included.
Scott is particularly good at finding concrete, external referents for
points in a speech that he wants to emphasize. The staging of the "ghost
under the stage moments" (with the Ghost speaking from sinkholes on a
sandy beach) is visually exciting, and I can't remember when I've seen a
better rendition of "to be or not to be."

There are several things about the production that bother me, though.
One is the music, best described as relentlessly poignant. It's quite
beautiful but doesn't fit "Hamlet," in my opinion. The second are the
occasional changes made in the dialogue. The example that springs to
mind is that Polonius isn't nosed out under the stairs in the lobby but
inside a coat closet in the same room where the rigged swordfight takes
place. If there were an obvious need for the change, it wouldn't bother
me as much.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matt Henerson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 12:45:01 EDT
Subject: 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

The one I wish I could find is a joint British/Canadian production done
in the early 60's.  Christopher Plummer was the Hamlet, and I'm sure
he's fine, but I'd be much more interested in seeing what Robert Shaw
made of Claudius and Michael Caine of Horatio.

Matt Henerson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 12:24:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

Cheryl Newton writes, "Bill & All - In my case, the 'sense' is sheer
enjoyment of seeing the variations & interpretations.  I have my pet
peeves & preferences, but they're free floating.  The ultra modern
Hawke, complete with fax machines, red-lit dark rooms, and revolvers,
triggers most of my hot points, yet sneaks under my radar & I find
myself enjoying it.  In my purely subjective scoring system, I'm looking
for consistency (mad or not is irrelevant, as long as the director &
actor are in accord), appropriate age casting (Gertrude is not 5 yrs
older than Hamlet; Ophelia is not 15 yrs younger; Horatio is a similar
age friend, not a geezer/mentor), naturalistic rather than emotive
acting. Fortinbras can be or not be; don't care.  ~grin~ I am inflexible
on just one point. Hamlet must die in Horatio's arms.  (Apologies to
Olivier!) Most productions have some "best" elements.  In my mind's eye
I keep a constantly evolving production.  It's much more amusing than,
say, soap operas! But I have to admit that my retired English prof asks
me, 'My God - take a break from it.  Haven't you read Macbeth or Lear?'"

OK: thank you for a wonderful and thoughtful response, and I can fully
appreciate your love of *Hamlet* in its very many Protean
manifestations.  But surely, you can understand that some of us, who
also love Shakespeare, and value his plays, might wish to see some
*integrity* with the script.  Caveat Emptor!  Yes, I admit that in order
for us to get to the *integrity* of the script with a production in
terms of its performance, we must agree on the *interpretation* of the
play.  Perhaps, that is illusive?  I do *not* believe so, inasmuch as
there are so *many* words in the play, and the various counterpoints can
only arrive at one mutually exclusive interpretation.  Even on SHAKSPER,
when we have disagreements over *interpretation* I actually see an
interpretation which *slants the truth.* In other words, the
interpretation *ignores* words in the text at one point and concentrates
on other words in the text.  I am a firm believer in the American
justice system concept and apply it to interpretation of literature.
The accused in a criminal complaint is innocent until proven guilty,
*beyond a shadow of a doubt.*  And I have *yet* to see any book, any
scholar, et al., deal with the basic question of whether or not Hamlet
the character was mad, insane, whatever word you wish to use.  My
reading of the play has him sane as any normal person in real life, and
I admit that that standard might not hold up well <g>!  However, because
that seems to be the crux of the play, man talks of talking with a
ghost, and man is accused of being mad, and man dies in the end, and
play is tragic, it really seems to ultimately turn upon that
interpretation: was Hamlet the character mad or not?

OK: therefore, in conclusion, I cannot get into a *best Hamlet
cinematic* version unless we start with the conclusion, he was *not*.
Using *that* standard, do you have a Best Cinematic Hamlet?

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

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Levine <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 20:58:41 +0000
Subject: 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1579 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

I think that Jacobi really is amazingly interesting...a total emotional
mess, which makes the conflict with Claudius (Patrick Stewart, when he
was just a really excellent jobbing Shakespearean actor, and easily the
scariest Claudius going) a lot more interesting.  I also like the
production itself, which, for some obscure reason, has fallen into
disrepute.

But I also keep returning (in my mind, alas--you can't seem to get the
video ANYWHERE) to the televised film (not tape) production from the
mid-sixties, with Christopher Plummer.  I remember that it was
incredibly effective (Plummer was also pretty messed up, but in a way I
remember as more classically Freudian than Jacobi), but I haven't seen
it since.  It also had a really intimidating Claudius in (unless my mind
is playing outlandish tricks ) Robert Shaw (who, if you think about it,
wasn't  especially older than his Hamlet).

And of more recent productions, it's hard to not to like Campbell Scott
a lot.

And before this latest Mel Gibson thang, his performance was still just
incredibly boring.  And his director has been largely brain dead for
decades.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.