|by Mira Harber
Corporation is the subject of a hostile takeover and the brooding, indecisive
heir apparent, Hamlet declaims the famous "To be, or not to be" speech
in a Blockbuster Video store.
This is latest
version of “Hamlet” to grace the screens this summer. Normally, Hamlet
runs at four hours long, if spoken in warp speed. This version was just
under two hours and in its own way, it is very effective.
plays Hamlet, and for once the actor playing the part is the right age.
Lawrence Olivier was about 45 when he did the role, so presumably his father
would have died of OLD age. Here it is entirely plausible that Hamlet's
father Polonius (Sam Shepard) dies an untimely death at the hands of his
power hungry brother Claudius, played to granite jawed perfection by Kyle
MacLachlan. Claudius marries his sister-in-law (Diane Verona) in 'untimely
haste' after he murders his brother, Hamlet's father, and assumes control
of the Denmark Corporation.
Hamlet is appropriately
lost and indecisive and in the process of trying to make a video of his
own to help him make sense of it all. We even see him use a snippet of
James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause) and John Gielgud (playing Hamlet himself,
skull in hand, saying "Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well") in his own work
in Hamlet is terrific - we have a thoroughly updated version which works.
The setting for the film is New York City. We have lots of spectacular
shots of looming, cold, blue steel skyscrapers, and when the ghost of Polonius
dematerializes into a Pepsi machine, it is surprisingly effective.
as Ophelia is unremarkable except for one scene where she is standing at
the top of the Guggenheim Museum and she lets out a blood-curdling scream
that remains with me still.
actors are for the most part excellent in “Hamlet,” in particular Liev
Schreiber as Laertes and most surprisingly of all, Bill Murray as Polonius.
Yes, that Bill Murray. He has turned out to be a fine comedic actor and
he plays this part perfectly.
The music in
this movie is wonderful. The opening strains of Brahms “Symphony
#1, The Tragic,” is used several times throughout the film to great effect.
Carter Burwell wrote the excellent incidental music to the film. The CD
featuring the music from the movie is well worth having and is available
Every age has
it's Hamlet, and this Hamlet is a fitting start to the 21st century.