aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Almereyda’s Hamlet (“starring” Ethan Hawke) is one of the most atrocious films I have ever seen! How in the name of all that is holy did this movie win awards and get mixed reviews? Don’t even get me started on its portrayal of the play, which is heart-wrenchingly, mind-crushingly deficient. No, my complaints are much less subjective.
For example, someone forgot to inform the actors that Shakespeare left spaces between the words, so mostofthelinessoundlikethisbutdeliveredwayfasterthanyou’rereadingrightnow. The cameraman seemed to be using his elbows to maneuver the camera. The b-roll footage appeared to be lifted from an entirely different movie by an editor with ADD. Right at the beginning, there is a speech dubbed over video of an actor who is obviously forming completely different words with his mouth. The visuals were cluttered, the sets sloppy, the shot compositions senseless and the staging horrendous (examples: action cramped awkwardly into the half of the frame that isn’t being taken up by a curtain, dialogue where one person’s head completely blocks the view of the other person’s… I could go on, but I don’t have 72 minutes like the director of this hideous film did).
But the most original, startling, thought-provoking performance of all was from that boom mic, yes an entire boom mic, that reflected boldly off a window and right into my narrowed, unbelieving, pained eyes. In the director’s inept hands, the characters’ [usually tragic] deaths were mercy killings that finally released both them and me from the textbook enactment of film gaffes that is Almereyda’s Hamlet.
In the past, I had viewed Shakespeare’s works with disinterest, bordering on distaste. Then, I Stumbled upon (literally – using the StumbleUpon toolbar) the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance of Hamlet, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. Since I adore Tennant as Doctor Who and recognized Stewart from Star Trek, I decided to give the film a try. The following three hours were pure transport; I fell in love. The depth of emotion portrayed and the connection I felt with the characters was completely unexpected. There are not many works of literature that I approach from the movie end, but in some cases, an affective film portrayal is the perfect inspiration to dive into gnarly or otherwise off-putting writings. After watching the film version twice, I was more than ready to read the work for myself. I very much enjoyed it, however I spent a lot of time reading the margin notes in order to understand the difficult vocabulary. A second time, I will read less technically and focus more on the poetry, wit and wordplay, which are everywhere evident.