Monday, November 23, 2009

Branagh's Attention to Fortinbras (A MicroPost)

Hamlet. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet, Richard Attenborough, Brian Blessed, Richard Briers, Julie Christie, Billy Crystal, Judi Dench, Gérard Depardieu, Reece Dinsdale, Ken Dodd, Nicholas Farrell, John Gielgud, Rosemary Harris, Charlton Heston, Derek Jacobi, Jack Lemmon, Ian McElhinney, Michael Maloney, Simon Russell Beale, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Spall, Ben Thom, and Robin Williams. 1996. DVD. Castle Rock, 2007.

Fortinbras is often completely cut from productions of Hamlet; Branagh gives him everything the text gives him—and sometimes a whole lot more.

If you haven't seen the last twenty minutes of Branagh's Hamlet, you need to. To get there, of course, you'll need to watch the previous 222 minutes, but most of them are delightful. The last twenty minutes might be called "The Revenge of Fortinbras." The image above is of Fortinbras pretending to be upset as he claims the throne of Denmark. He's saying this:
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.
I have some rights, of memory in this kingdom,
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me. (V.ii.388-90)
It's a tremendous moment, and we're not quite sure whether it bodes good or ill for Denmark. The fact that the English Ambassador slips quietly away during the not-quite-bloodless coup invites discussion of Fortinbras' expansionist policies and whether they will affect England herself. If Fortinbras annexes the Sudetenland, watch out!

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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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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