Beautiful as the video was though, what really got me was the soliloquy. I love that soliloquy almost more than any other single piece that Shakespeare wrote, which is sayingg something. I've heard countless renditions of this one soliloquy but this one really hit me. So many times this soliloquy is moved through fairly quickly, whereas Tennant took his time. Having heard the soliloquy, I bought the DVD of the RSC production of Hamlet with Tennant in the title role.
Yes, I bought a made for TV movie version of a Shakespearian play just for one soliloquy.
No, I am not ashamed to admit this.
Especially not in light of how amazing the entire thing was. Now, granted, I did have a few moments grumbling over things they chose to cut, but in all fairness, Hamlet in an obscenely long play. It's nearly five hours from start to finish if nothing is taken out.
The best part though, wasn't the actors, the cinematography, or even the amount of heart put into it. The best part was the way it made me think about one of my favorite plays, one forced to share top spot with Much Ado About Nothing. For the first time I really sat down and thought about the play, the characters, and what they must be going through.
A work of stage or literature is completely worthless if we cannot believe in the characters and the lives they live. If we didn't believe that Scarlet O'hara was a spoiled, stubborn, and ultimately undefeated woman, then Gone with the Wind would be worthless trash. (Twilight comes to mind. The only remotely believable characters become believable far to late to save any part of the series.)
I apologize in advanced for the ruminations to follow, but I just had to get this out of my system.
The thing is, Hamlet means a lot more to me now because I understand, to a degree, what he's going through at first.
His father has just died and already, within a month, his mother remarries, and to no less person than his uncle. Hamlet feels betrayed, but cannot say a word against it, because no one else seems to have a problem with it. His world's been turned of its head.
Now, granted, never been in that situation, but the sudden divorce of my parents, due to my mother's infidelity and insistence, is fairly close. Especially once I met the man she had cheated on my father with. Every one was shocked but few people actually seemed bothered with it, and certainly none outside of my family. When you factor in how I was raised, saying I felt a little betrayed seems like a bit of an understatement.
I'm extremely grateful that I don't understand everything he went through though. Think about it. An entire court, an entire country, and only one of his friends remains loyal to him.
Hamlet loves his mother, not in a sexual way (at least, not in my opinion), but she has, by so quickly remarrying, betrayed him. I mean, at the very beginning, Hamlet is probably about 29 years old, assuming it the play covers about a years worth of time, since he is 30 when he dies. His father died a mere two months before the play opens, meaning that Hamlet saw his parents as a loving and happy couple for 29 years. And yet, within two months, she has remarried. Think about that! Wouldn't that bother you?
More to the point, she marries Hamlet's uncle, who, even before the ghost, rather obviously dislikes Hamlet. The Hamlet finds out that Claudius killed his father. Whoopee, as if he wasn't having a hard enough time.
Then there's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Two of Hamlet's good friends, close friends, even, because why else would they have been sent for if they weren't close friends. We don't tell out secrets to our friends, we tell them to our good friends, our best friends, the people we would call if we needed to hide a body or something. They were sent for by the King and Queen to find out what is wrong with Hamlet, and when he confronts them, they don't even have the decency to be honest. It's only when they've been backed into a corner that the truth comes out.
The most tragic, I think, was Ophelia. I genuinely believe that Hamlet loved her, which is what makes it so much worse, and explains just why he's so harsh to her through out the rest of the play, following the Nunnery scene. We believe that love is though thick and thin, and here, in his darkest hour, he has been abandoned by the woman he loves. (at her father's orders. I can't decide whether Ophelia loves Hamlet and is merely weak, or if she doesn't love him. Either way, she's probably one of my least favorite characters.) He has been abandoned by her when he sees her again, she gives back the tokens of affection that he had given her. This is where it gets interesting. A lot of people think that when Hamlet tells her to "get thee to a nunnery" that he's telling her to become a whore. I think he does say that, but not at first. The first time he says z" get thee to a nunnery" I think he's warning her against the institution of marriage. As I pointed out, his parents were probably married some 29-31 years and within a month his mother remarried. He tells her that it would have been better if his mother had never ha him, that all men are "arrant knaves" and that she shouldn't believe any of them, and that she "would be a breeder of sinners". He doesn't start insulting her until after she lies to him. Some how, Hamlet realizes that someone, most likely Polonius, is watching them, so he asks her where her father is. She says that he is at home. Here he is, talking to the woman he loves, the woman he probably thought about marrying and having children with, and not only has she given back everything he gave her, but she lies to him.
Out of every person he has ever loved and trusted, only Horatio proves faithful, which is what I believe leads to the rather sappy speech Hamlet makes shortly before the duel that embarrasses himself and Horatio. After everything, he's just so insanely glad to have some one he can trust and rely on, some one who understands that he's only a little crazy, and he's only that way to stay sane.
It's like on M*A*S*H, Hawkeye says that they all have to go a little crazy sometimes or else they'd all go crazy. Hamlet's life is so chaotic, so stressful, and so deceit-filled that he has to laugh because he really would go mad if he didn't.
I also think that Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, suspected that Claudius had killed her husband, but chose to ignore it. I think she lied to herself, convinced herself that Claudius was like his brother, that he loved her the way his brother did. She knew better, but grief makes people do stupid things.(For example, my father married a bimbo and drank himself in to stupidity for a year after my mother left, thank God he wised up.) We already know that Gertrude was a loving mother to Hamlet, one because he felt so strongly betrayed by her, and two because through out the play she's trying desperately to shield him. I don't know if it was the director, the actress, or just me reading into facial expressions to much, but I love the RSC version of her death. As she goes to drink the poison, Claudius attempts (weakly) to stop her from drinking. In the movie, she looks down at the cup with this expression on her face, like she knows, she knows exactly what Claudius intended to do and she can no longer lie to herself about him. She has two option. Put the cup down, or drink. Not knowing that Leartes has a poisoned blade, she drinks, hoping to save her son from death. Mothers are like that. They'd rather walk through Hell than allow their children to come to harm.
That scene also makes me think that Claudius didn't love Gertrude as much as he may have claimed, or thought, because he let her drink the poison. He makes one weak attempt to stop her, and that's all. He may love her, but not enough to die for her, not enough to relinquish the crown for her. He could have stopped her, taken the cup from her, but that would have raised questions. Why, if it's alright for Hamlet to drink, is it not alright for the Queen to drink. When it was known that the cup was poisoned, then how did the king know if he did not have some hand in it? And, of course, if that had happened, it would have came out right then, that he had killed his brother as well. The play would certainly have had a very different ending had that happened.
Instead, Leartes wounds Hamlet, Hamlet takes the unblunted and envenomed foil and injures Leartes, Gertrude dies, and now it comes out, just what wickedness the King has created.
I loved when Hamlet yelled at the dying Claudius "Follow my Mother!" Not sure why I did, but still. We've reached the end of the play, and in the movie I have, Fortenbras does not show up other than two brief mentions, so instead, we deal exclusively with Hamlet and Horatio. Hamlet and the only friend who didn't betray him, a friend who loves him so dearly that he wants to follow Hamlet, even into the after world. It's probably the saddest part of the whole movie, and strangely, one of my favorites. So many people want to make Hamlet and Horatio's relationship more than what it was which tells me that true friendship is hard to find. Horatio is sitting there, holding his dearest friend in his arms, a friend that's dying even as they speak. And Hamlet asks one last thing of him. "If ever thou didst hold me in thy heart, absent thee from felicity awhile, and in this harsh world, draw thy breath in pain to tell my story." Live on and tell my story, Horatio. Tell them what happened to me and my family. How one man's greed killed nine people. Nine people. King Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius, Hamlet, Polonius, Leartes, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. All dead, because of greed.
In the play, Hamlet dies, and Horatio says goodbye to his dear friend, only to have to turn around and relate the tale we have just watched to Fortenbras of Norway, and the soon-to-be King of Denmark. We don't see his tell the story, because of where the play ends, but think for a moment about how hard that would have been for Horatio, to have to stand up on a platform, a stage of sorts, to deliver this tale so soon after it has ended. Rigor Mortis probably hadn't even set in to Hamlet yet.
I want so desperately to play Hamlet sometime. Granted, it's not exactly a role intended for women, being that Hamlet is a man, but I certainly would not be the first woman to play the tortured prince. I've already memorized roughly half the play if we're quite honest. I think I'd make a good Hamlet. All sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor as he was written.
Anyway, I think I've ranted enough about current favorite subject. I should have a new computer soon, so I'll hopefully be able to update more often. Till then, adieu.
P.S. I have recently learned how to sing one of the Arias from Rossini's La Cenerentola.
Una volta c'era un Re. I'm having way to much fun singing it.
P.P.S. Sorry if this post is a little odd, it's late, I'm tired, and I can't sleep. We've all been there, I'm sure.