Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
The Best Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0129  Monday, 25 February 2008

[1] 	From:	Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date:	Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 14:43:34 -0000
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0121 The Best Hamlet

[2] 	From:	Patty Winter <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date:	Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 09:18:32 -0800
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0122 The Best Hamlet

[3] 	From:	Jan Pick <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date:	Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 19:17:53 -0000
	Subj:	RE: SHK 19.0121 The Best Hamlet

[4] 	From:	Cheryl Newton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date:	Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 14:41:30 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0121 The Best Hamlet

[5] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Sunday, February 24, 2008
	Subj: 	The Best Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 14:43:34 -0000
Subject: 19.0121 The Best Hamlet
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0121 The Best Hamlet

It's a small point (perhaps only of interest to cataloguers), but Larry 
Weiss was mistaken when he wrote:

 >By the way, the latter actor's last name is "Russell Beale," not "Beale."

Russell is a name and so is Beale. If Simon Russell Beale wants the 
world to treat two names as though they are one (and I've no idea 
whether he does, although Larry Weiss seems to think so) then he has to 
hyphenate them as Russell-Beale. Without the hyphen, his last name is 
Beale. The same is true of Robin Headlam Wells (last name Wells), John 
Dover Wilson (last name Wilson).

Of course, I'm not denying anyone the right to assert what her name is. 
But the world won't play ball if one asserts something that's too hard 
for everyone to deal with, which in the above cases would involve us all 
accepting the invention of a new kind of 'space' character 
(indistinguishable from the regular one other than by context) that 
duplicates the function of the hyphen in being part of a word rather 
than the boundary between two words.

Gabriel Egan

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Patty Winter <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 09:18:32 -0800
Subject: 19.0122 The Best Hamlet
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0122 The Best Hamlet

Paul E. Doniger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >

 >Also, while my memory holds, the Christopher Plummer "Hamlet at
 >Elsinore" in the mid 1960s was impressive-and Robert Shaw was one of the
 >best Claudiuses I can remember. I'd like to get a DVD of that one if it
 >ever comes out.

So would I, Paul! I wrote to BBC several years ago asking them to 
release it for public purchase, but no luck. I also wrote to the 
Stratford Festival and Lincoln Center asking them to record the Plummer 
"Lear," but they didn't do that, either. (Stratford used to sell videos 
of some of their performances, but haven't done so in years, unfortunately.)

However, if you ever get to the Paley Center for Media (formerly the 
Museum of Television & Radio) in New York or Los Angeles, they have 
copies of the Plummer "Hamlet" that you can watch.

By the way, the cast also included a couple of other rising young actors 
who were not really known in the U.S. when "Hamlet at Elsinore" hit our 
shores: Michael Caine (a year before "Alfie") and Donald Sutherland 
(five years before "M*A*S*H").

Patty

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Jan Pick <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 19:17:53 -0000
Subject: 19.0121 The Best Hamlet
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0121 The Best Hamlet

I do not think there is a 'best' Hamlet. The best is the one that most 
moved and provoked thought in each individual theatre/film goer or TV 
viewer. Some productions have worked for me better than others. I like 
Hamlets that are political as well as domestic. Top few for me, Samuel 
West, Simon Russell Beale - despite it being very domestic - Michael 
Pennington, and my very first, Alan Howard. I am looking forward to the 
David Tennant Hamlet.

Jan Pick

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Cheryl Newton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Sunday, 24 Feb 2008 14:41:30 -0500
Subject: 19.0121 The Best Hamlet
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0121 The Best Hamlet

Very interesting that no one is casting her/his vote for Olivier!  I 
know my reasons, which are purely amateur, non-academic ones, shared by 
my on-line amateur Hamletophile pal. We think we're guilty of heresy, 
but maybe not, if so many of you share the idea. So, why does Olivier 
miss the list?

Cheryl

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Sunday, February 24, 2008
Subject: 	The Best Hamlet

In another post today, Jan Pick wisely notes, "I do not think there is a 
'best' Hamlet." While I agree with the sentiment, such questions often 
do generate interesting threads on this list.

I would like to take a moment to respond to are several posts that have 
mentioned "bad" Hamlets.

The first was Richard Burton's of 1964. As with David Lindley's memories 
of David Warner's Hamlet, my memories of Richard Burton's Hamlet are 
inseparably connected to an experience of mine, the only day in my high 
school years that I played hooky and when to the Hippodrome Theater in 
downtown Baltimore to see this film.

I shall never forget Burton's voice - it still rings in my ears -

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't, ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead, nay, not so much, not two.
So excellent a king, that was to this
Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth,
Must I remember? Why, she should hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on, and yet, within a month --
Let me not think on't! Frailty, thy name is woman! --
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears -- why, she, even she --
O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourn'd longer -- married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married -- O most wicked speed: to post
With such dexterity to incestious sheets,
It is not, nor it cannot come to good,
But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

As for Nicol Williamson's Hamlet, I shall also never forget the way that 
Williamson and Gordon Jackson (Horatio) played the death scene in this film:

In a tight two-shot with Hamlet and Horatio look into each other's eyes, 
as lovers might.
                                  I am dead, Horatio,
Thou livest. Report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.

Continuing to look into each other's eyes, Horatio says, "Never believe 
it; / I am more an antique Roman than a Dane."

The shot never changes; but out of the frame, Horatio takes the cup from 
Hamlet who had been holding since he violently forced the poisoned wine 
down Claudius's throat.

At "Here's yet some liquor left," Horatio moves the cup to his lips.

Then Hamlet demands, "Give me the cup."

Horatio pauses and gazes deeply into Hamlet's eyes.

At Hamlet's "Let go! By heaven, I'll ha't!" Horatio first looks again 
into Hamlet's eye and then down at the cup; he pauses once more, and 
slowly passes the cup to Hamlet who quaffs down the remaining wine.

As Hamlet drinks, Horatio watches intently.

Hamlet now taking short breath after short breath as the poison takes it 
affect, begins "O God, Horatio, what a wounded name . . ." as Horatio 
peers at him. Hamlet, his eyes upward, Horatio's fixed on him, continues 
. . .

Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story.

Hamlet gasps for air and slips down into Horatio's arms. Continuing to 
fall backwards, "O, I die, Horatio, / The potent poison quite o'er-crows 
my spirit."

He concludes, "the rest is silence," staring upward.

In all my years of theater going and my seeing perhaps 50 productions of 
_Hamlet_, I don't believe I have ever seen this bit played in this 
interesting and wholly textually justified manner.

For these reasons, I cannot consider either the Burton or the Williamson 
Hamlets as "bad" Hamlets.

Hardy

_______________________________________________________________
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.