Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Three Days of Hamlet: A Documentary

Three Days of Hamlet. Dir. Alex Hyde-White. Perf. Alex Hyde-White, Tom Badal, Richard Chamberlain, Iva Hasperger, Stefanie Powers,Chuma Hunter-Gault, and Peter Woodward. 2012. DVD. Fenix Pictures, 2013.

Three Days of Hamlet is a documentary about putting a production of Hamlet together in three days. The most intriguing part of this honestly not-too-intriguing film has to do with the father / son relationship—both in the play and between the director (and the Hamlet) and his father.

Alex Hyde-White, perhaps best known for his role as James Morse in Pretty Woman, is the son of Wilfrid Hyde-White, whom I know best as Pickering in the 1964 film version of My Fair Lady. A fair bit of the documentary contemplates their relationship and the complicated ways in which the appearance of the ghost of Hamlet, Sr. affects Hamlet, Jr.

Some psychological contemplation is clearly underway—to the point where we might see this entire production as Alex's way of proving something to Wilfrid about acting . . . or his life . . . or his desire to pass the torch of the acting profession to his son . . . or . . . something.

The production-within-the-documentary has some occasionally slight interest, but it seems mostly ordinary. The actors read their scripts,which I don't mind, especially given that they have three days to mount the production. But the overall effect is to distance them from the material itself and from their audience. There are also a surprising number of slightly-misread lines:  "Get thy ways to a nunnery," "No, not by this hand," "These foils have all the strength?" et cetera. I'm not quite sure what to do with that, other than to note that it reveals a lack of attention to the text.

The following clip will give you a good sense of the flavor of the documentary:

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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