Saturday, June 30, 2007


Almost a week ago, on Saturday, I saw three movies at AFI's Silver Theater* in Maryland. The last movie I saw that day was Tom Stoppard's existential ode to physics, fate, and probabilities, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990),* adapted from his own play of the same name (other movies I saw Saturday are mentioned here and here). Then yesterday, after waiting around the passport office all afternoon, I met Sunshine before the eight pm curtain at the Studio Theater* for the stage version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.... The story is an excellent, if unsubtle, contemplation of destiny's role, at least as pertains to Hamlet's childhood friends Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, newly recruited by the uncle-king of Denmark to spy on his nephew-heir, and, when that becomes fruitless, duped into being instruments of his would-be death. In Shakespeare's play, the characters are stunted to the point of being interchangeable and listless plot mechanisms bribed into extending the deceitful king's influence over his wife and stepson. The Stoppard play takes this situation and centralizes these listless mechanisms, creating a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern dismayed at their own lack of influence as the forces of plot and dramatic tragedy leave them with only whatever dubious free will they can cram between the lines of Hamlet. Mostly they fritter this will away discovering what's happening around them. On stage, they ponder philosophy in their interstices. On screen they also discover important points of physics. They never quite solve the troubling riddle of their lives: that they are, in the end, inextricably bound by their passing use at the hands of Claudius, Hamlet, and ultimately, Shakespeare himself. I was surprised that the shorter movie version included so much more of Hamlet framing Stoppard's scenes. I prefer the movie, but the play was very good. [Cavin]

Then, a 3 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger qemuel added:

"Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?"

I LOVE Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead! Such a fun little movie! I would have enjoyed seeing the stage show as well...

Sunday, July 01, 2007 2:06:00 PM  
To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

Isn't it great? My favorite moment in the movie is not in the play (as I saw it, at least). Other things were moved around here and there because of all the things that can be done with a camera, of course, but this part just stuck me as having been invented right on the set by some brilliant goof: at one point, while trying to convince Oldman to question him as if her were Hamlet, Roth is beginning to get frustrated--he just can't seem to pierce his partner's foggy synapses. "You've got to delve," he tells Oldman, "Delve!" This last he shouts, and since they are standing in the courtyard, the sound echoes. Ophelia appears, mute, in a window above their heads as if she has just gotten a command from god: delve. Soon after, she turns up drowned. I think that is just so slick, the little ways Stoppard had the duo effecting the play that's got them trapped.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 3:10:00 PM  
To which Blogger Ellie added:

The play is Brilliant! I absolutely love Tom Stoppard. However, when it comes to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the movie far exceeds the play. All of the "play" around physics, biology, mathematics (probabilities) are dealt with so well in the movie (better!).
But, my favorite Tom Stoppard ever, and a play that changed my life in terms of what I expect in the theatre now, is Arcadia. The play combines drama, intrigue, and a keen interest in human behavior with history, literature and a fairly deep, albiet "lay-personed", dive into the world of Chaos Theory. Awesome.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 1:42:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Back to the Beginner.
<< To main Update page.