Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Blast it all, I'm going to have to watch Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet again.

Wait a minute, you say, Hamlette adores watching Hamlet! She owns multiple versions of it, she has huge chunks memorized... she named herself after it, for cryin' out loud!

Yeah, but I don't like Branagh's version very well and don't own it. The only version I've seen that I liked less was Laurence Olivier's, as I've come to disagree quite strongly with his belief that the play is about a guy who can't make up his mind. The main reason I don't like Branagh's is because he's just so doggone cheery-looking through most of it. Branagh works fine for me as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and as the title character in Henry V, because neither of them are terribly serious characters. But I do not dig him as Hamlet.

Or I haven't so far. But I got the soundtrack for his version from the library to listen to do while working on my Nanovel, since part of it involves a college production of Hamlet. And in the liner notes, Branagh writes:
"Our Hamlet is not presented as a man predisposed to melancholy. His usual character, described so often in the play, is vibrant, curious, positive... For me, the play is partly a search (through Hamlet's extraordinary mind) for what makes life worth living. When afforded a glimpse of those things that occasionally inspire Hamlet -- love, friendship, the theatre -- I wanted the music to soar with Hamlet's temporary optimism and hope."
That is rather a different view of the character than I've ever taken, but it's one I'm very drawn to, because, well, I identify greatly with Hamlet in many ways, except I'm ordinarily a very happy, optimistic, hopeful person. But I've never thought that, before his father's death and his mother's o'erhasty remarriage, he might not have been a Broody Boy at all. And that's a really cool thing to think about, and makes me even sadder for what he goes through in the play.

So now I need to rewatch this version, to see if it works any better for me with all this in mind. Hooray for free interlibrary loans! I'll probably get to see it next week.


  1. That's cool, and also kind of funny, cuz I put Ken's version in my netflix queue after we watched Burton, cuz I was craving more Hamlet and the EH version STILL isn't available. Except I have been shifting movies above it, as I am wont to do, depending on my mood... maybe I need to move it back to the top again, so when you write a six page post expounding on it, it'll be fresh in my mind too! :-D

  2. maybe I need to move it back to the top again, so when you write a six page post expounding on it, it'll be fresh in my mind too! :-D

    I'd say go for it! Just got an email that I've got a copy in at the library, so will be picking it up early next week, watching it... sometime. And you know I'll post about it :-D


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