Posts Tagged ‘Hamlet’

Well, I finally watched Thor.  Kenneth Branagh was a good choice for the director and is also not the right choice for future adventures of Thor.  Yes, I love my Kenneth and he was great for laying out the mythology behind this Norse god.  Now he has wisely stepped aside to let someone else handle the action franchise that I am sure will follow.  What a wonderful blend of the classical and modern language.  I particularly enjoyed “Is this your chamber?” or something like that.

The thing I loved best about this movie was the very obvious lesson of listening to your parents.  I didn’t even have to hit the boys over the head with a hammer to catch it.  I wonder if I get a hammer, one of the plastic Thor hammers, if the boys would actually listen to me.  I don’t know.  They are great boys.  They are really well behaved except for the parts we’ve messed up.  Hubby and I have spoiled them.  It’s been tricky lately to work on undoing this.  We’re having a yard sale next Saturday, per the boys’ request as they want to make some money.  But they don’t want to sell any of their toys.  We’ve been working on this for a couple of weeks and today there was a small breakthrough.   They started to realize that most of their toys were played with for a couple of weeks and then the novelty wore off.  I am hopeful that they will come around in the next few days and select some toys that might actually sell.

They each had to pick ten toys for the yard sale and put them on my bed yesterday.  Older son called out that he was done this chore.  I predicted he would have chosen a Nerf dart and counted that as a toy.  I was right.

They both really got into Thor.  We called out some other classic Kenneth lines as we watched it.  Their favorite worked into the film a couple of times- “The arthropods are back.”  Not sure why they love this line from Kenneth so much, but they do.  I am clearly somewhat obsessed with him since younger son asked if the movie was directed by Hamlet.

I think I’ll be picking up Thor’s hammer and see if it triggers a response.  No, I won’t use it on them (though they said I should get the one with the lightning bolts that shoot out).  I’ll use it for the symbolism.  They dig the Norse mythology.  I need to capitalize on these events when I can.  😉

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I’ve had two discussions this week about plots, or more specifically remakes that use the same exact plot and why do we need them in the world?  It’s a fun topic and in the end, every show has been a rerun since the theater of the ancient Greeks.  The roots of every story, play, movie, or television show can be found in Greek theater.

But I still love a good debate so…

For me, plays are meant to be a unique event each time because they are performed live and each performance will have slight variations due to a different audience and another day of life experience for the actors adding new dimensions to the performance, subtle though they may be.  I look at film versions of plays in a similar manner.  Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet is unique from Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and from Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet.  (I don’t even consider Mel Gibson’s in the conversation as I did not care for it at all).  Each is approached from the roots of theater yet captured on film.  Each film includes distinct performances by the actors and a distinct interpretation by the director, as well as very intentional scenic and musical choices.  I glean something different from each one.

I think that You’ve Got Mail is a unique film from The Shop Around the Corner, the film that inspired the adaptation.  It also acknowledges the original, gives a tip of the hat if you will, within the film.  The sign on the Fox Bookstore building says “just around the corner” and they make references to mail…letters.  If you know the film The Shop Around the Corner, you’ll pick up on these wink wink, nudge nudge references.  If you don’t, they don’t stick out as out of place.

I don’t understand the need for remakes (I don’t care what you call them) if they only are a remaking of an original film without bringing anything new to the table.  The shot by shot remake of Psycho…why did we need that?  Hitchcock’s is perfect, no need to redo it.  I remembered how perfect on Mother’s Day when Encore Suspense treated us to a 24 hour marathon of it.

Arthur, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, why do we need to remake them when the originals were fabulous?  Give me a new twist at least.  And changing the gender of a character doesn’t count…just changes pronouns.  Scream could have been just another slasher flick in the tradition of the classics that changed the genre in the late 70s and early 80s, but it did something new in acknowledging the pedigree that bore it.  That made it original.

Another recent revamp was made by two of my favorites, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.  But Willy Wonka will always be visualized in my mind as Gene Wilder in a fabulous purple velvet coat.  I have a brown velvet coat that I call my Willy Wonka coat.  🙂  I will watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and embrace it as an individual movie because of my love of Tim and Johnny, but Gene Wilder will always be  Willy Wonka.  Their latest, Dark Shadows, has yet to be seen, so I cannot comment yet.

Are these amazingly fine lines to be drawing in the sand?  Yep.  I wonder though as I reflect if I haven’t noticed a wee bit of a trend.  When a film is adapted from a book or play, I’m far more open to seeing a new version of it.  Perhaps because for me I always approach a film version of a book or play with some skepticism since I’ve already got my own version of it in my mind’s eye.  It don’t expect it to live up to my expectations and so I am sometimes pleasantly surprised.  A remake of a story that was originally intended for film I am less flexible about because if it was written for film, it was intended to be a finite and finished product.  A play is meant to be produced over and over just as a book can be read over and over.

Now some might ask me what I think about The Three Stooges movie.  I’m fine with it-I haven’t seen it yet but my hubby and sons did and they gave it their own Three Stooges approval.  First, it incorporated the concept of short films, another wink wink, nudge nudge example.  Second, even with the original Three Stooges, there were four different groupings of them (Moe and Larry with Curly, Shemp, Joe, or Curly Joe and the original trio was Larry, Moe and Shemp to begin with but without the name Three Stooges).  They were always the same characters but in different short films, a different situation.

In the end, we keep repeating and remaking these stories on stage or screen because we will never finish exploring the human condition and the human existence.  We are egotistical by nature.  We also are a social creature and we feel better after sitting in a dark room together with a bunch of strangers watching ourselves and examining how we handle this thing called life, reruns and all.


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During the fifth course, I would be quite full but I would persevere, for Kenneth’s sake.  The conversation would weave its way to Hamlet.  Not that I could ever cover this subject in a lunch or even a life time.  I humbly study this work of theater and will never even scratch the surface.  But we would focus on a specific scene.  Act III scene iv.  This scene from Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet makes me weep even when I simply think about it.

Hamlet Act III scene iv

(I am hopeful that I have successfully embedded the scene courtesy of tediousoldfools’ upload.  I adore tediousoldfools and all the wonderful uploads that I enjoy during the rare lunch breaks that I take.  I pop on a little Shakespeare & Kenny and my day becomes brighter.  So thank you to tediousoldfools.)

But the scene is the point of tonight’s blog.  Last night I treated myself to watching the movie again.    Once the ghost appears, Hamlet completely reverts to a small boy trying to please his father.  The fact that he just killed someone completely disappears as he looks at this ghost.  I love the voice of the ghost…his whispers are horrifying and filled with love at the same time.  He says to Hamlet,

“But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:
O, step between her and her fighting soul:
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works:
Speak to her, Hamlet.”

And he immediately obeys.  This is a moment of tenderness and concern between Hamlet and Gertrude, one that for me seems to be sincere concern from her.  As he says “On him…on him” he simply becomes filled with sadness, respect, and longing for his father.  Kenneth’s face changes and the tears well up as he struggles to please his father all the while trying to grasp that his mother doesn’t see the ghost.  The levels of emotion that course through his being in these two minutes of film are outstanding.

The scene makes me feel the wonder of what it would be like to see someone that you loved one more time.  It makes me think about unresolved matters and the desire to set things right within a family.  I think that Hamlet stands the test of time because every family has betrayal within it.  Hopefully not as horrific of a betrayal as in Hamlet, but on some level everyone deals with betrayal and a destruction of trust.  And as in this story, not everyone gets a chance to resolve things before being separated by death.  In some cases, a person may choose to separate from a particular person because of a betrayal of trust and this perhaps helps to avoid it ending the same way Hamlet does.  Bloodshed seems to be never ending in this group.

But in this scene, you just see a boy missing his dad.  Wishing for more time.  Hoping to please him one more time.  To defend his honor.  To gaze on him, on him one more time.

In case you’d enjoy reading it, here is the text of the scene:

Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act III scene iv


A king of shreds and patches—(Enter Ghost.)

Save me, and hover o’er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?


Alas, he’s mad!


Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command? O, say!


Do not forget: this visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:
O, step between her and her fighting soul:
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works:
Speak to her, Hamlet.


How is it with you, lady?


Alas, how is’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?


On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects: then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears perchance for blood.


To whom do you speak this?


Do you see nothing there?


Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.


Nor did you nothing hear?


No, nothing but ourselves.


Why, look you there! look, how it steals away!
My father, in his habit as he lived!
Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal! (Exit Ghost.)

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Third course…don’t really know what that would be, perhaps a cosmo for me.  I would now share with Kenny, yes, we’d be on a first name basis by now, an observation my husband once made.  Ken speaks “Shakespearean English” better than most people speak modern English (love their songs, but that’s a whole different blog).

Case in point—watch the scene in Love’s Labour’s Lost when he says the monologue about love.  On the dvd, the one scene is titled “It Kills Sheep” and the next is “Heaven”.  The two monologues sound, from Ken, like regular, everyday English.  It does literally come trippingly on the tongue.  “My melancholy and my rhyme…my rhyme and my melancholy”.  Oh, and the line about Hercules and the line about Apollo’s lute strung with his hair…leading to “And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony”.  Ah, pure beauty.

My sons wanted to stay up late last night and I let them as long as they were watching Shakespeare.  I put in Love’s Labour’s Lost.  After it had played for a few minutes, my one son asks, “Is this Hamlet?”  I told him no.  He said, “But that’s the guy from Hamlet.”  Yes.  He then asked, “Is this Love’s Labour’s Lost?”  How proud was I?  We’ll have to try Henry V tomorrow.

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