Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What's with the Fishmonger Stuff? Can't you Drop it?

Hamlet. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Kenneth Branagh. 1996. DVD. Castle Rock, 2007.
The fact is . . . I can’t!

The more we see Polonius as a fishmonger, the less we like him.

The less we like him, the less we mind his death behind the arras.

The less we mind his death behind the arras, the more righteous we find Hamlet’s act in stabbing the “rat” he hears there.

And the more righteous we find Hamlet’s act in that instance, the more likely we are to find the rest of his actions justifiable.

The Branagh Polonius is the Polonius I most love to hate. He’s the most conniving, the most unrepentant, the most manipulative of Polonii. (He’s also played by a very good actor—one of my favorites).

His role in the play changes our understanding of every other character.

One of the marvelous things about Hamlet is that that’s true of almost every character in it (not even excepting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).

It really is a bit like a game of chess. If this piece moves here, these are some of the things that might (or might not) follow. However, if this piece moves there, an entirely different course may play itself out.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest