Monday, March 16, 2009

Gielgud as Hamlet in 1944

“Shakespeare: Drama’s DNA.” Perf. Richard Eyre, Peter Brook, and Judy Dench. Dir. Roger Parsons. Changing Stages. Episode 1. BBC. 5 November 2000. Videocassette. Films for the Humanities, 2001.
While we're in this rare-clip-sharing mood, why not look at Sir John Gielgud's Hamlet. [Note: Technically, it wasn't Sir John Gielgud's Hamlet at the time—he was knighted in 1953, and this performance took place nine years earlier.]

The clip comes from the BBC Serial Documentary Changing Stages, a work that seems more and more indispensable every time I dip in to it.

Gielgud has done so many remarkable Shakespearean things (as well as playing Mr. Beddoes in the 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express) that it would be impossible to list them here; however, that voice, which is like being hit in the ear with a velvet boxing glove filled with slices of lemon, is used to perfection in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books (for which, q.v.). Just listen:

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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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