What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Love Hamlet

I really do love Hamlet. I think it is one of the best plays ever written. I am currently in the process of watching Kenneth Branaugh's 1996 film version. I think that it is important to tell you that I am watching it as it is a freaking mammoth of a film at over 4 hours. While I like the movie, I must note that Hamlet, and most Shakespeare, for that matter, is almost never performed in it's entirety for a reason. It's too long. Many Shakespearean scholars explain this away with the patience level of Elizabethan audiences, and the fact that the theatre was a completely different experience back then. Supposedly, the actors spoke faster and the audience was able to mill around and come multiple times. Further, the audience expected to stay for awhile and make an afternoon of it. My personal theory is that the plays weren't actually performed in their entirety, even back then. It is well known that audience members would react with the players, and even sit on the stage and throw things at the villans. I don't care how fast you are speaking this is going to make it even more difficult to get through a play and therefore a four hour play that with fast talking actors might be 3 and a half is going to be 5 or six hours long with the groundlings throwing mutton at you.

For this reason I say to Mr. Branaugh. I appreciate your dedication to the Bard and that you wanted to be bold and make a full-text version of this masterpiece. But, not even diamond-sitters in 1600 London could handle speaches that take ten minutes to say that which could be said in one. I love the imagery as much as anyone, but we get the drift, man.


Chad said...

You made me think of Kevin Costner. THough I wouldn't dare compare him to Shakespear. He made it big with Dances with Wolves and then tries to write these epics that take an entire day to watch. Most of them weren't that good. Consider Waterworld.

MDH said...

I paid money to see Waterworld in the theatre. It's actually become one of my guilty pleasures that I watch for a while if I find it flipping channels. I don't stop and watch the whole thing though. That distinction I reserve for Road House.

ML said...

My favorite was not really Shakespeare, but a spoof. "Shakespeare In Love". that was great. I also enjoyed the stage versions that I have seen. I really enjoyed the ACU production and seeing Ryan do the gravedigger character. But I do good to stay with the stage shows I've seen. If those stories were any longer, I wouldn't stay.
Thank you for the little Shakespeare lesson. I learned something new.