Both comic book adaptations teach us about rushing through the play and its effects, though on stage, we would hardly get the same kind of superimposition caused by placing speech bubbles in the same panel/space.
Gertrude is rather thrifty when it comes to telling Laertes his sister has drowned, the words coming out of her mouth even as she rushes through the door. Again, this is due to the way comics work, but keeping everything in the same speech bubble keeps pauses and hesitations out of the Queen's "voice". Her account of Ophelia's death is more detailed, taking up an entire page:
The Berkley version
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Claudius seems stunned by the whole affair. Not just Gertrude's story, but Laertes' weepy reaction as well. It's true that he surprisingly lets them speak without ever interjecting, even though Ophelia's death may affect his plans. At most, he seems tired. When Gertrude reaches out for comfort, he fails to notice her gesture and instead rebukes her for what Laertes might now do. She's shaken by how little he cares about her or Ophelia, and how much he cares for his own safety.
One last note, about the director and cinematographer's intent. While Gertrude speaks, the camera moves to a slightly overhead angle so the black polished floor can take on the properties of a murky reflective pool, bringing the muddy brook into the room. It's a neat piece of staging, but not as obvious as the production would have liked it, I think. Still, an element to steal and realize better in future adaptations.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
In contrast to Claudius and Laertes discussing Hamlet in a dark room, Ophelia's sequences are blown-out, a pure white bleaching the color out of the film. The sound design is just as extreme. We may be hearing and seeing her madness and her ecstasy, or we may be experiencing the scenes from the Ghost's limbo. He watches as Ophelia "drowns" in her narcotic bliss, chokes, convulses and finally stops moving. Suddenly, her body is on the beach in the same position. Were we there all along? Has the Ghost moved her? The latter is suggested. He continues to watch as Claudius and Laertes run to her silent (as per the sound design) and apparently unbidden.
One of Fodor's key ideas is keeping the Ghost in the play all the way through as an unseen observer, although here it is suggested he takes an active hand in Ophelia's death. She finds the heroin under mysterious and fortuitous (in a sense) circumstances, in a room filled with his signature white light. He moves her body where she might be found by the people upon whom he wants revenge. Or since this will arguably push Hamlet over the edge, perhaps he's engineering events so that his son finally kills Claudius like he promised. The more his tardy son waits, the more blood will be shed. Fodor's Ghost is a figure from horror stories whose agency is more direct.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
In Hamlet 2000, Ophelia is frequently seen flirting with the idea of drowning. She throws herself in a VIP pool with her clothes on, she walks the edge of a fountain in the lobby. It's in that fountain that she is found, drowned in barely a foot of water, and though these things happen, it is just askew enough an image to underline the madness of it. Ophelia simply let herself die. A security guard runs in to try and rescue her but is too late, which answers the question of whether Gertrude was witness to the events or not. Of course, she might have seen it happen from one of the lobby's high balconies and been unable to do anything about it, just as in an Elizabethan or Medieval setting, the Queen might have seen it all from a tower window. The shot ends on her box of letters from Hamlet, floating by her body in the fountain, telling us more definitively that her suicide was driven by lost love, though the letters are also a symbol of the tug of war between her father and her lover - the letter revealed to the Royals, the tokens returned to Hamlet as an excuse to spy on him, and so on - so does double duty.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Dana Ivey stresses the words "cold maid", which is an illuminating choice, as Ophelia is indeed the coldest of maids now. It's doubly interesting because this adaptation's Ophelia, Diane Venora, seems a little old for the part. Was she really a "maid", or is that part of Gertrude's tale to cushion the blow as much as the prettiness of the picture she paints?
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Is Gertrude painting a pretty picture for Laertes' benefit? She may be. From all the wide shots, including one at the very end with the girl's body floating away, no one seems to have witnessed her death. Gertrude may be enacting a sort of reconstruction based on Ophelia's old habits, the state she was found in, and her own wishful imagination. Glenn Close's performance supports that idea, tearfully smiling through most of it (except for the "muddy death" line) even though women in black are grieving behind her. She's chosen to remember the girl's prettiness, not the ugly side of her madness, and she smiles as one might at a eulogy, in fond remembrance. Laertes is simply shocked, and his "drowned" lines cut back to the scene of Ophelia's death, the camera panning away from her. He can't bear to imagine it.
Now, there are some cuts here, mostly because Gertrude didn't interrupt a conspiracy. Laertes and Claudius will only discuss Hamlet's murder after the Prince's return and Ophelia's funeral. Laertes doesn't get to forbid his tears, nor can Claudius be angry at Gertrude for disturbing his plan.