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This Is Hamlet

September 17, 2010

514y4Pt57RL._SL500_AA300_.jpgWatched the second installment in what's beginning to look like a fab series of educational films about the works of William Shakespeare. This Is Hamlet follows on from This Is Macbeth, which I blogged about in January of 2009 here.

The Hamlet DVD, like its predecessor, is cheeky and irreverent but very informative, though the central conceit is slightly difficult to make sense of at first: The drama's characters comment on their own behavior in the play, sometimes while they're supposed to be in an actual scene. But the illogical nature of the denouement soon stops being a problem because the film is otherwise so engaging.

The producers make the play appealing to a young audience (Hamlet spend much of his time sitting in a jerkin checking his text messages) while at the same time homing right in on the poetry, the philosophical, social and political ideas behind the play and the characters' often complex motivations.

Both movies are the work of Greg Watkins and Jeremy Sabol and include fine performances from a cast of Bay Area actors.

I would heartily recommend the DVDs to any high school English lit or drama teacher. And they make fun viewing for general Shakespeare and theatre buffs too.

The only thing that seemed slightly remiss to me is the costuming. Hamlet and Horatio are in doublet's and Renaissance shirts, Polonious wears a stuffy Victorianesque tweed suit and Ophelia sports a long, white floral peasant blouse, which wouldn't look out of place on Haight Street in the 1970s. Not sure what's going on there.

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