The Berkley version
Taking the opposite tack, the more modern adaptation doesn't use the scene at all, which may turn out to be a mistake. In a film, moments and expression can make clear that props have been poisoned, that the plotters are working together, and so forth. In a comic, it is much more difficult given the space available. Meaningful cuts to a face, a weapon, a cup, may not come across the same way. We'll see.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Sunday, January 19, 2014
It's obvious Laertes has been told, off-stage, about Hamlet's participation in his father's murder, and he's already thinking about getting his revenge. He's quick to answer when the King tells him about his plan, though one should wonder, as Doran does on the commentary track, why Laertes already has the poison. What would this have been for? He came back to Denmark sword in hand, so it wasn't for the King. For himself, perhaps? For a sort of honorable suicide after committing regicide? Or is he just the kind of person who buys such things in case he ever needs it, and thus quite dishonorable? It's not clear. But though he has his own ideas about how to kill Hamlet, the cuts make the scene play out as less of a seduction. Claudius brings fewer arguments to bear, even assumes Laertes will participate and do what he's told. Laertes is eager. As usual, these cuts weaken Laertes' character, reducing him to a pawn. In his wrathful state, he doesn't even question the King's laugh as he thinks of his back-up plan.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Notably, Laertes initially refuses a glass of wine from Claudius, which is how we might track the seduction (not that this psychotic Laertes needs much prodding, he must only be convinced of the specific plan). The idea of the rapier duel is made acceptable in a modern setting by the inclusion of the oft-cut Lamond, introducing Laertes' reputation for fencing into an era that would normally not feature swords, but Laertes grimaces at first. He'll do it, but it needs something more. He adds poison to the mix (meanwhile, Ophelia is poisoning herself with drugs), and cold, unblinking Claudius puts some in a wine cup as his plan B. Only then does Laertes accept a glass, and they drink together, not realizing this wine is poisoned too. Sealing this deal, they've put into motion the mechanism of their own deaths. They might as well have drunk the venom directly.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Laertes accepts Claudius' excuses and is shown the gun Hamlet used in an evidence bag, but his expression is clear. The Royal Family survives while his own pays the price. The State screws the People over (though obviously, the Polonius family wasn't exactly middle-class). He is otherwise cold towards the King, his mind elsewhere perhaps, as he fiddles with Ophelia's hair comb, but that gives a nice spin on the line about warming the sickness of his heart, which in turn highlights Claudius' own about an "ulcer". The only emotion Laertes will allow himself to have is that sickness, a need for revenge, a hate beyond all hate.
Among the many cuts, we of course find the Normand material, which doesn't fit the setting, but also the details of the assassination scheme. In fact, what the characters fear throughout actually happens and Gertrude walks in on them, earlier than in the play. She cuts them off just as Laertes was about to answer Claudius' question about what he would do to show himself his father's son.
A final note: The fax machine used to deliver Hamlet's message turns this "modern-day" version into a period piece after all.