To Watch or Not to Watch

So I decided, rather rashly and in keeping with the spirit of Hamlet, to slip into netflix and add every Hamlet movie to the queue. Then it dawned on me that I’d actually have to watch them all, and I withdrew from the opportunity, with but two actual selections:

Olivier, because I inexplicably haven’t watched it before. Shame on me — it’s Olivier! Then again, I’m not convinced I’ll like it. I’m not typically one of those people who say It wasn’t like the book because I don’t expect it to be. Being too much like the book has been the kiss of death for too many a bad movie.

It’s just… I don’t know exactly. There’s a certain way of doing Hamlet that makes me vomit a little, even when it’s done superbly well. The overzealousness leads to a marginal pomposity that turns brooding into moping, which I don’t think befits Hamlet at all.

If anything, this reading has energized me more than I expected for this project. As a matter of fact, I’ve LOVED Hamlet this go-round and consider it one of the best reads of my life. And that, I’m happy to say, certainly does befit a play that is considered so great by so many. I am confirming by my actual actual that yes, in fact, it really was (and still is) absolutly revelatory.

Which is why I’m somewhat dreading the stiff man in tights routine that may or may not await me with Olivier. I will watch the Mel Gibson version, if for no other reason than contrast (and because I remember – perhaps naively – liking it many years ago). I will, however, abstain from the Ethan Hawke modernization and the Kenneth Branagh BBCiffication. Holy cow, I’m being judgmental, aren’t I? Where is this scorn coming from?

I really do need to watch ’em all and then let loose. What am I thinking? If anybody has a particular favorite version let me know. My mind is open, honest. Though I have a feeling the Simpsons version may end up my favorite, which reveals more than I probably want to.

Guff away.


2 Responses to “To Watch or Not to Watch”

  1. Linda OReilly Says:

    If I have a LEAST favorite version it’s Branagh’s. Simply because he’s too damn good. For him it’s a cakewalk. The man was born spouting Shakespeare.
    I want to see someone challenged. I liked Mel’s version, I feel that he brought it to the masses and actually pulled it off.
    Ethan Hawk’s was not bad but obviously done by someone too young, although that was probably just right.–Diane Venora was a great Gertrude.
    Kevin Kline…I didn’t really like it, I don’t remember why. Wait I DO remember, Kline is a terrible overact-or and in his Hamlet he overacted and underacted alternately.
    Really, can you believe I’m criticizing anyone’s Hamlet. What arrogance…

    • Of course it’s fair to critcize — nobody gets a pass just because they attempt greatness. They can’t coast on Shakespeare’s laurels.

      I can’t slam dunk, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know basketball. Wait — I don’t even like basketball. Nonetheless, the metaphor stands.

      I’ll watch Branagh since you like him so. But even more than my aversion to certain root vegetables, I’ll go only with heavy protestation.

      There’s something about that man I just don’t like…

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