I spent the first section of it going, "Um, really? I see." It's much different than I was expecting, much more stylized and fantasy-based. Which is not exactly bad, just not what I was expecting. Once Thor hit Earth, I grooved on it much more, as I like Natalie Portman and I love fish-out-of-water stories. Thor adjusts to modern life fairly quickly, and because he's a god, I'm okay with that. (Not like in Kate & Leopold, where Leopold's adjusting so quickly annoys me and is the main reason I don't love a movie that stars three of my favorite actors.) One of my favorite moments is when Thor's eating (and eating and eating, even though it's not shawarma) and tosses a coffee mug to the ground in appreciation of how tasty it is -- I love the culture clash right there, it made me laugh and laugh.
But anyway, after watching Thor, I had a blog post about it all planned out. And then before I could write it, I had a revelation. While sitting in the car in the grocery store parking lot, as a matter of fact. And the revelation was that, although I was not fond of some of the FX, and there were parts that felt rushed, the movie as a whole appealed to me for one simple reason: it's basically a retelling of Hamlet.
Okay, stop sniggering and rolling your eyes. I know, I know, I'm a nut on the subject. But let me list the similarities:
- Thor's father winds up in a coma at the hand of Thor's adopted brother, Loki; Hamlet's father winds up dead at the hands of Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. Loki's words sent Odin into the coma, while Claudius poured poison into King Hamlet's ear, but since evil words are a kind of poison, I say the comparison works.
- Thor gets banished to Earth; Hamlet gets banished to England.
- Loki usurps the throne while Odin is incapacitated; Claudius usurps the throne once King Hamlet is dead.
- Thor returns from Earth to stop Loki from starting a war and claim his rightful place as King of Asgard; Hamlet returns from England to avenge his father's murder and take his rightful place as King of Denmark.
- Loki uses his silver tongue to get him out of trouble several times; Claudius uses his powers of persuasion to keep Laertes from killing him, to woo Gertrude, and to convince all the courtiers that him taking his brother's wife and throne is perfectly acceptable.
- Thor's climax is a big duel between Thor and Loki; Hamlet's climax is a big duel between Hamlet and Laertes.
|Thor/Hamlet, Odin/King Hamlet, and Loki/Claudius|
It's not perfect or complete, I grant you. But there are a lot of plot similarities (and thematic ones too, which I may go into another time), and I'm wondering if they're what drew Kenneth Branagh to the project in the first place. I have to say, thinking of Thor as a kind of retelling of Hamlet makes me like it a lot better, and now I really want to watch it again, to see if I can find other similarities.
EDIT: I read an article that quoted Branagh as saying he thought of Thor as very similar to Henry V. That works too. Who am I to argue with Branagh?