The movie stars Tim Roth and Gary Oldman as the title characters, who ruminate about their existence while a Shakespearean play happens all around them. Playwright Tom Stoppard (winner of an Academy Award and Four Tony Awards) directed for the first and only time.
I remember quite liking it’s take on two of Hamlet’s minor characters, who discover through the course of the movie that they are not the main characters and are acting in a world governed by the rules of the play. Of course, I was also younger back then. Maybe something I once thought profound was really being pretentious. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime right now.
Roger Ebert didn’t like the movie and awarded it zero stars. “As a movie, this material, freely adapted by Stoppard, is boring and endless. It lies flat on the screen, hardly stirring.” Do you know what movies Roger Ebert awards zero stars to? Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, that’s what!
I guess I can see where he was coming from. It would be quite a delight to have a standard Hamlet play interrupted periodically by two characters going off-script.
Stoppard would continue to give movie-lovers fits, as he was the writer behind another Shakespeare related fan fiction with Shakespeare In Love. This movie would win Best Picture in 1998 (surprisingly defeating Saving Private Ryan), give Gywenth Paltrow her Best Actress award, and reward Dame Judi Dench for 10 minutes of screen time.
In honor of this week’s release of that other creative adaptation of Hamlet (Disney’s The Lion King) what is your favorite cinematic adaptation of a Shakespearean play?
You got a lot to choose from, Avocado. There are offerings from Baz Luhrmann, Akira Kurosawa, Sir Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Vishal Bhardwaj, Roman Polanski, Sir Kenneth Branagh, and Franco Zeffirelli. Some are faithful retellings. Some are fantastical reimaginations. And some are faithful retellings that replace all the swords with guns.
Give me my Longsword, ho! ‘Tis time for talking movies.