Friday, February 13, 2015

Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet 2009

On the Royal Shakespeare Company's TV Production of Hamlet: 2009.
    Hamlet is probably the single most powerful fusion of words and situation in the language, and I believe the Royal Shakespeare Company's television version featuring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart is the best production. Two examples:                                                                            
    Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
    Ophelia: No, my lord.
    Hamlet: I mean my head upon your lap. ...
    Ophelia: Aye, my lord.

    Hamlet: Or did you think I meant country matters?
    Ophelia: I think nothing, my lord.
    Hamlet: That's a fair thought, to lie between maid's legs.                                                                       

    In every version I've seen, Hamlet reads line 5 more or less normally. But Tennant, knowing what bawdy Elizabethan audiences appreciated, says: "Or did you think I meant CUNT...ry matters?" Brilliant and authentic.
    In every version, Olivier, Gielgud et al., Claudius reacts to the play-within-the play by rushing off screaming for light. But Patrick Stewart understands that Kings don't panic. Especially since Hamlet, by his crudely pointed remarks has made the "trap" quite obvious. He gets up calmly, walks over to Hamlet, stares into his eyes and shakes his head from side to side. This gesture from a king can only betoken death.                                                                                    The whole interpretation of the play leans strongly to the Freudian side. Hamlet's anguish before he sees the ghost is over his mother's hasty marriage.  There's no "Hyperion to a Satyr" adulation of his father at this point. In speaking to Horatio of his father, in this version, Hamlet simply states:"He was a man etc." With no heroic stress on 'man'. In fact, the casting of Patrick Stewart as both Claudius and the ghost is meant to emphasize the idea that they pretty much looked alike. Which was possibly one factor in Gertrude's acceptance of him. This version sees Hamlet as a high-strung adolescent whose Oedipal predisposition is suddenly inflamed by his hallucination of the ghost whose his accusations against Claudius fulfill Hamlet's terror. (Yes, others have seen the ghost, thrown in to please the groundlings, but it's Hamlet's fury that animates the play; just as the witches in Macbeth only trigger Macbeth's overweening ambition but do not cause it.)  And, of course, Hamlet's fixation on his mother is given an appropriate degree of frenzy in the bedroom scene.                                                                    …/…/B0038RSJ0U/ref=sr_1_2…
    See More
    David Tennant and Patrick Stewart star in this critically acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s masterpiece from Britain’s renowned Royal Shakespeare Company. No recent stage production in Britain has attracted the excitement and nearly...