Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Hamlet Project: 'The Bad Sleep Well' (1960) Toshiro Mifune



I was reluctant to include Akira Kurosawa’s tale of bureaucratic corruption as part of the Hamlet Project, but a few things won me over. For starters, it is one of Kurosawa’s least-appreciated films, often overshadowed by his period costume epics. Secondly, it features an awesome, restrained performance by Toshiro Mifune. And lastly, this movie has perhaps the greatest title you could ask for. Those who work evil do not even feel the pangs of conscience, while justice seems not only resting, but dead. 

“The Bad Sleep Well” is often included in a list of Kurosawa’s free adaptations of Shakespeare set in Japan. But as Kaori Ashizu states, critics often force the film into the Hamlet association despite the fact that its plot construction and characters render the Hamlet story as if all the familiar ingredients have been thrown into a blender. By comparing the story of corporate greed to the protracted revenge of Denmark’s late monarch, viewers miss a darkly funny, intricate film noir with touches of the detective thriller. But this, in itself, is much like the original source material, which is itself an adaptation. 

We know that Shakespeare used two sources for the Hamlet story. One involved the story of a prince whose father is murdered by his successor. The son must feign madness to stay alive so that he will eventually avenge his father’s murder and take the throne. But Shakespeare, in rendering the play, removed the threat of death to Hamlet at the beginning of the play. Claudius does not seem threatened by his brooding step-son and nephew. Because of this, Hamlet’s reasons for later feigning madness are more complicated and his overall motivation more ambiguous. 

Kurosawa does this one better. The setting is the corporate construction world of post-war Japan. Our Hamlet character – Mifune’s Nishi – is not the son of the corporate head but the son-in-law of a vice president. It is as if Hamlet has already married Ophelia and his revenge is on Polonious for carrying out Claudius’ orders. It becomes clear that Nishi’s father-in-law, the evil Iwabuchi (Masayuki Mori) often converses over the phone with someone who is more powerful, and perhaps, more evil. 

And where Hamlet casually casts Ophelia aside in the course of his revenge, Nishi draws closer to his new wife, Yoshiko (Kyoko Kagawa). He wants revenge against her father, but his unintended love for her makes it harder for him to carry his plot through to its conclusion, and is eventually its undoing.
The basic plot – Nishi is actually the illegitimate son of Furuya, a functionary employee who jumped to his death from the seventh floor of the office building because of his involvement in government kickbacks. In fact, Nishi is a borrowed identity for a man known as Itakuru. All of his actions are meant to avenge that system that encouraged his father’s self-destruction. 

Kurosawa said his inspiration for the film was several stories of government and business corruption that usually ended, not in convictions at the end of investigations, but in suicides. Minor employees killed themselves rather than implicate their corporate bosses, leaving the instigators alive and unpunished. He wondered what would happen if someone took an investigation beyond that point of disintegration. But Nishi isn’t a detective or a prosecutor – he is avenging his father’s suicide out of an oppressive sense of guilt. The day before Furuya’s suicide, he tried to make peace with his son.
But Furuya does not revisit his son from the spiritual world – he leaves him a legacy of illicit cash, which Nishi uses to fund an elaborate revenge. 

Kurosawa biographer Stuart Galbraith IV says Nishi is like Hamlet in that he pretends to be something he’s not. But where “Hamlet feigned madness only to teeter on the border of genuine insanity, Nishi becomes so ‘bad’ himself that to get to get to the bad men, he veers toward becoming one of them.” Complicating it further is Nishi’s genuine love of Yoshiko. But their love seems a sterile kind, barely romantic. He cannot feel love when he is, as one character says, tangling with a “a terrifying system that will never yield.”  

But it takes more than half of the movie before any of the revenge backstory is revealed. Instead, when we first see Mifune as Nishi, we see a quiet, restrained, almost invisible man who will work as his father-in-law’s secretary.  “Hamlet” begins in the aftermath of a wedding – “The Bad Sleep Well” begins at a wedding. But instead of it being that of Claudius and Gertrude, it is the film’s Hamlet and Ophelia. Yoshiko is lame, inspiring sympathy. But an audience coming to the film cold does not see a brooding Nishi – instead, they see the rigid, suffocating, banal formality of a corporate wedding, with the “truth” revealed by the wagging tongues of a group of journalists.  The only hint of something wrong comes with the surprise entrance of a wedding cake in the shape of the corporate headquarters, with a rose decorating the window where Furuya jumped. 

The reaction to the cake is much like Claudius’ to the performance of “The Mousetrap.” But there are no smiling villains in this story. The only truly smiling character is the ruthless Nishi, who later torments his corporate targets with single-minded gusto, much like Hamlet is often portrayed after he unmasks his uncle with the help of the actors. But again Nishi is not out to avenge murder – because a murder has not been committed. His focus is the system embodied largely by Iwabuchi, but also by Moriyama, Shirai and Wada. The only way he can hope to destroy it is by hiding in plain sight within the company and Iwabuchi’s family. When Nishi fakes Wada’s (Kamatari Fujiwara) suicide, he then uses Wada as a kind of “Hamlet’s ghost” to drive the corporate criminals to admit their guilt. Iwabuchi’s son Tatsuo (Tatsuya Mihashi) serves as both Laertes and Horatio. Gertrude is absent, which probably accounts for Nishi’s early single-mindedness. 

It is two settings that reveal Nishi. The moment he steps from silence is when he prevents Wada from committing suicide by throwing himself into a volcano. His figure emerging from the volcanic gas, Nishi announces the true nature of his mission before setting the revenge in motion. The hero emerges from volcanic vents, ancient gateways to the Underworld, to announce his war against dark forces. The second setting is the ruins of the munitions factory, bombed and abandoned. Is this a link to the old Japan, before the corruption of the modern corporate era, or a reminder of where unrestrained ambition will take power? Nishi certainly broods there, like Hamlet, among bruised concrete and twisted metal.  

Nishi’s revenge softens, ever so slightly, which ultimately signals his downfall. What happens? Nishi carries Shirai (Akira Nishimura) to the seventh floor office window and threatens to throw him out, with Wada watching. The bug-eyed flunky confesses his role, and Wada forgives him. This sends Nishi into a fury, as both crooked men beg for forgiveness when threatened with ruin and death. “Who gave you the right to forgive him?” Nishi demands, with all the gorgeously righteous anger Mifune can muster. “They tamed my father and you with scraps from their table and offered you up as scapegoats, yet you can't hate them. This is the only message scum like them understand. Even now they sleep soundly, grins on their faces. I won't stand for it! I can never hate them enough!" Later on, he will echo this in a quieter setting, deciding that his hate is insufficient to take them all down. He will be right.

Nishi isn’t Hamlet, because Kurosawa doesn’t allow him to be. His death occurs off-screen, and his murderers (for now they have killed him and not relied on a convenient and dutiful suicide) go unpunished. Hamlet was allowed a moment of resolution and clarity before facing Laertes’ poison blade, and turning it on Claudius. Nishi’s vengeance goes unsatisfied, his borrowed name as obscure as that of his late father, and the rest, regrettably, is silence.   

Next up: Richard Burton
Previous posts: The Play's the Thing... 


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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Breaking Bad: "Fly"



Half-way through the series “Breaking Bad,” our story finds its way back to its core – the relationship between its two principal characters. Not for the first time or the last, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) are literally in a pit. They are in Gus Fring’s (Giancarlo Esposito) hi-tech meth lab, cooking product in what Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) will later say is a perfect set up. But even now, Walter is uneasy and unsatisfied, because, no matter how much money he makes, he is not in control. His vanity will not let him rest. This angst manifests itself in an unexpected way due to the appearance of …a fly.

As the episode begins, Walt is worried at first about missing product, with the hint that Jesse may be slipping some of their blue meth for himself. But that isn’t Walt’s only worry, as he is afraid the product is becoming contaminated.  Why? Because there is a fly in the lab.

Jessie worries that Walt’s been up to long, or that he’s been using the meth. He also worries that Walt’s cancer has gone to his head. “We make poison for people who don't care," argues Jesse, who works furtively to keep their current batch of meth that is halfway through the cook process on track. Walt orders Jesse to cease all cooking activities until the fly is caught, and smacks him with the swatter when Jesse continues anyway. The fly contamination must be eradicated, an exasperated Walt claims. "This fly is a major problem for us: It will ruin our batch, and we need to destroy it and every trace of it so we can cook. Failing that, we're dead. There's no more room for error, not with these people."

One is reminded, in a ridiculous way, of Ahab’s obsession with Moby Dick. The whale is a living, multi-ton accusation that rises from the ocean to taunt the whaler with all of his failures. A lab for a scientist means control – not only of conditions, but variables, quality, and even outcomes. But this fly is a threat to that – small, mobile, and unpredictable. It represent uncleanliness, failure, disaster. And what is the fly? Guilt? Obsession?  Conscience? Sin? God?

Remember the very first scene of the show? Walter White, air mask on, stripped to his shorts, driving an RV down a desert highway with sirens blaring, barely three weeks into his criminal enterprise? He runs out of the RV clutching a gun and a video camera, and begins talking through what he thinks is a last statement to his family: 

“This is not an admission of guilt….there are going to be some…things… that you’ll come to learn about me in the next few days. I just want you to know that no matter how it may look, I only have you in my heart….Goodbye.” Then he walks up the roadway, and points the gun at the road ahead, ready to do whatever he has to.

This Walt, like the one in the lab, the one who has and will murder without hesitation, was always there. Such as when he gave his life savings to Jesse to buy an RV for their mobile meth lab, his only explanation being, “I am awake.” Awake to evil, in a weird negation of Paul’s call in Ephesians to “awaken sleeper” to Christ?
 
Or remember when Walt and Jesse had a drug dealer trapped in the basement, unsure what to do with him? Walter prepared a benefits/liabilities list of what the consequences of murder might be. One of his listed arguments against was “Judeo/Christian principles.” So Walter pays some kind of homage to these, at least for appearances’ sake, or for his own self-image. But he eventually kills the dealer, when he feels his own life is in jeopardy. Walt doesn’t seem to believe in the metaphysical, saying about the existence of the soul that “it’s all chemistry.” He will not admit guilt, but he knows he’s guilty, as he admits in the episode “Gliding Over All”: “If you believe that there is a hell…I don’t know if you’re into that… we’re already pretty much going there. I’m not going to lie down until I get there.” There is no hope of salvation.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus says in Revelation, an often-quoted moment of Christ’s love and benevolence in this darkest of books. Is Walt quoting his own version of this during his most remembered speech on the show?

“Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the Nasdaq goes belly up. Disappears. It ceases to exist without me. No. You clearly don’t know who you are talking to. So let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and he gets shot and you think of me? No. I am the one who knocks!”

But we stray from the fly, who keeps taunting Walt and Jesse within the Superlab. Walt grows weary of the chase, and Jesse contrives to put him to sleep by spiking his coffee. It is only as Mr. White sinks into unconsciousness that we finally see within Walt, who says there’s “no end in sight.” But he isn’t speaking of the search for the fly, but of his own predicament. We realize that for some time, he has been wondering what the perfect moment for his death from cancer would have been. He realizes he has lived too long, and now, he has condemned himself so that when he dies, his family will not feel grief as much as relief. He has already put his wife through too much. He soon pinpoints that perfect moment as the night that Jesse’s girlfriend Jane died, when Walt gave Jesse his percentage of the profits.

Later that evening, Walt went to a bar, and found himself sitting next to Jane’s father. This confluence of events will eventually lead to Jane’s death (which Walt will restrain himself from preventing) and an air disaster in which hundreds will perish.

“The universe is random. It’s not inevitable. It’s simple chaos. It’s subatomic particles in endless, endless collision. That’s what science teaches us. What is this saying? What is it telling us when on the very night that this man’s daughter dies, it’s me who’s having a drink with him? How can that be random?... That was the moment. That night. I should have never have left home. Never gone to your house. Maybe things would have…I was at home watching TV. Some nature program about elephants. And Skyler and Holly were in the other room. I could hear them on the baby monitor. She was singing a lullaby. If I’d just lived right up to that moment and not one second more. That would have been perfect.“

Later on, when he is in police custody, Jesse will describe Walter White as “the devil.” “He’s smarter than you. He’s luckier than you,”  he says. But if Walt’s drugged incredulity at the happenstance of life comes back to us, we see him as human, frail, lost.

We often see Jesse that way, that he is often more human than Walt, as the older man slides further and further into the abyss of Heisenburg’s uncertain certainty. When the fly reappears, it is Jesse who carelessly puts two cabinets in place and perches a ladder on top of them, wailing away at the fly. He is rising further in the air, but leaving safety behind, risking, getting closer to the possibility of success but finding it just beyond his reach, with danger rising. Walt, sinking further, comes accidentally close to confessing his complicity in Jane’s death – he will save that for later with devastating effect. But he at last understands what his missing of that perfect moment means.  

Walt: Jesse, no.
Jesse: I’m so close.
Walt: Let it go. We need to cook.
Jesse: What about the contamination?
Walt: It’s all contaminated.  

William Blake’s poem, “The Fly,” begins with a fly brushing past his hand. The poet thinks on the similarities between himself and this simplest and most common creation, both products from the same hand, like the tiger and the lamb:

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death,

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die. 



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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe



“What would you do,” asks a character in the movie “Groundhog Day,” “if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” The question is posed to Bill Murray, and the words sum up his life – he has been sentenced, for some inexplicable reason, to relive Feb. 2, seemingly forever. The humor for the audience is that we have all felt this way, for varying reasons, probably more than once in our lives.

Several generations ago, this same sentiment was expressed by the titular hero of Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.” Finding himself shipwrecked on an island, alone except for the occasional appearance of cannibals, Crusoe begins to take stock of what made him come to this seemingly godforsaken island. He has misspent his life, he thinks, and he can no longer run from the consequences. “Lord be my help, for I am in great distress.”

What surprised me the most in reading “Robinson Crusoe,” was how much of it was taken up with Crusoe’s declarations of piety. Early in his time on the island, Crusoe understands that, just as he is alive because of the Almighty, he has brought to the island for some unknown reason. The reason isn’t merely repentance – like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” he is being changed. Which brings me to the second great surprise in reading the book. Defoe has the difficult job of rendering Crusoe’s 26-year sojourn on the island in a way that will keep the reader interested. And he is doing this within the confines of a newly created medium.

Read Jonathan Franzen, in his 2011 essay on “Crusoe,” grief, and solitude, “Farther Away”:

“Robinson Crusoe” was the great early document of radical individualism, the story of an ordinary person’s practical and psychic survival in profound isolation. The novelistic enterprise associated with individualism—the search for meaning in realistic narrative—went on to become the culture’s dominant literary mode for the next three centuries. Crusoe’s voice can be heard in the voice of Jane Eyre, the Underground Man, the Invisible Man, and Sartre’s Roquentin. …”


"Robinson Crusoe" is escapist fiction about a man who cannot escape. What Defoe does is give Crusoe things to do, to fill time, and have him explain what he is doing, how and why. We keep reading, and we do not feel we are treading the same ground or merely filling time. We slowly see Crusoe change from the reckless ne’er-do-well adventurer of dubious morality into a hard-hewn, patient man of confident integrity. His labors are never-ending, and his mistakes are recounted so that we will share in his feeling of triumph as he learns slowly to live on his own. He decides that his is not the worst lot in the life, that he is master of the island, and sets to imposing his own order. For half of his time on the island, he grows in a budding faith. But he is still a man, conscious of his limitations.

Then comes the footprint, and the sure knowledge that he is not alone on the island. In what could be, for some, a promise of hope, Crusoe experiences a moment of profound terror. Again, Franzen, on the changing religious consciousness of Dafoe’s mother country:  

“At the same time, England was rapidly becoming more secular. Protestant theology had laid the foundations of the new economy by reimagining the social order as a collection of self-reliant individuals with a direct relationship with God, but by 1700, as the British economy thrived, it was becoming less clear that individuals needed God at all. It’s true that, as any impatient child reader can tell you, many pages of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ are devoted to its hero’s spiritual journey. Robinson finds God on the island, and he turns to Him repeatedly in moments of crisis, praying for deliverance and ecstatically thanking Him for providing the means of it. And yet, as soon as each crisis has passed, he reverts to his practical self and forgets about God; by the end of the book... To read the story of Robinson’s vacillations and forgetfulness is to see the genre of spiritual autobiography unraveling into realist fiction.”

It was Franzen’s account of reading “Crusoe,” on a desert island, while mourning his friend David Foster Wallace, that made me want to read the novel. I think Franzen overstates his case slightly on how far Crusoe strays at the end, but he is right about his vacillations. As Crusoe observes after the discovery of the footprint, all of the faith he had in God’s providence suddenly abandons him, as though God has gotten him through everything to this point only to turn His back on the castaway. But within a few pages, he is once again quoting Scripture and stating that God will help him. With the appearance of Friday, Crusoe is soon thanking God that he has been brought to the island.

The mode of the book is that this is a "true" story, and in the details Defoe makes us experience the sweat and isolation, the grinding solitude of existence. The images are so vivid that they have stayed with us for centuries since, from “Gilligan’s Island” to “Lost.” Could we survive on our own? Crusoe says no – in fact he never would have survived if not for God, and never could have made it off the island were it not for the mishaps with a mutinous crew that finally finds him. Modern sensibilities find something familiar in Crusoe, because no matter the circumstances, everyone knows loneliness, even if great crowds. The piety of the castaway may have been expected in his day, but Crusoe learns more, such as the inscrutable ways of God, which find renewal even in certain destruction:   

“how frequently, in the course of our lives, the evil which in itself we seek most to shun, and which, when we are fallen into, is the most dreadful to us, is oftentimes the very means or door of our deliverance, by which alone we can be raised again from the affliction we are fallen into…




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The Hamlet Project: Laurence Olivier (1948)


In Ron Rosenbaum’s excellent book “The Shakespeare Wars,” he calls attention to the theory of “The Unbroken Chain of Hamlets.” The idea is that the role of Hamlet, going all the way back to Richard Burbage strutting the stage at the Globe, created something with the role that survives to the next man to take it, and on and on. If so, we might wonder what of his survived in the first major screen production of “Hamlet,” that of Laurence Olivier. It is the only Hamlet to have ever won an Academy Award for best picture, and it was directed by the man some still consider the greatest actor of all time.

Olivier wrote years later that he believed someone else should have played Hamlet, as he tended to embody dramatic, energetic roles. That tells us something about what he himself thought of the character, in what he called, pound for pound, the greatest play ever written. It is often thought to be the most problematic of his three Shakespeare films, as he is playing the young prince at age 40. There were some critics, Peter Hall for example, who still felt Olivier’s Hamlet is too direct, and would have killed Claudius too quickly. To tone down his energy, Olivier dyed his hair blonde. He was also insistent that his movie not be a filmed version of the play. One of the transformative experiences of Olivier’s career was working with William Wyler in “Wuthering Heights.” So he begged off color for black and white, wanting deep focus photography for his scenes. He preserves some of the traditional touches though – such as the prince’s doublet, and costumes for the king and queen that resembling playing card conceptions. 

He also had to be conscious of length, so Olivier cut Rosencrantz and Gildenstern completely from the play, effectively removing the politics from “Hamlet” and centering it squarely on the tragedy in the royal family. Because of his time, Olivier put a great deal of emphasis on the Freudian reading of the play, meaning that Hamlet can’t easily kill Claudius because he subconsciously wants to do the same thing as his uncle – kill his father and bed his mother. In his writings, Olivier said he felt the key speech for Hamlet was, “How all occasions do inform against me” ending in the line, “My thoughts be bloody.” In other words, by this time, Hamlet is resolved on his revenge. Yet he cut this line from the film, so that in essence, his opening narration, “This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind,” is absolutely true. 

And so you have a movie of a play that, in some ways, is at cross purposes with the title character, and a medium disclosing the flaws of the conception. The prince broods because he knows what he must do, and wrestles with the doing of it. An actor used to action must find a way to dramatize the paralysis of inaction. “Whenever an actor first attempts Hamlet,” Olivier wrote, “he should be aware that it’s a sporadic collection of self-dramatizations in which he tries always to play the hero and, in truth, feels ill cast in the past.” And because of Olivier’s technical decisions, this film of a play occasionally feels exactly how it wasn’t supposed to feel – like a filmed play.

The first image is crashing waves.  We see Hamlet’s body borne on the battlements, revealing the ending for anyone who didn’t read the play in school, and making it clear that this play is, in some ways, about death. In various scenes, “Hamlet” feels gothic and suffocating, almost like a horror film, with the camera panning menacingly through empty passages and past empty throne rooms and bedrooms.  “The story is seen through his eyes,” Olivier observed, “and, when he’s not present, through his imagination – his paranoia.”

Long takes hold the actors in agony, forcing the viewer to pay attention to the dialogue and each reading.  Terrence Rafferty’s observation was that something is stalking our players, as we observe “human behavior, in all its awful futility, through the cold, unblinking eyes of God.” Still, Olivier makes it easy for us. Our first look at Claudius (Basil Sydney) is as a blowhard drunkard, Gertrude (Eileen Herlie) as a thoughtful mother, Polonius (Felix Aylmer)as a fool.

The best technical choices, besides color and camera use, are Olivier’s stylistic decisions with the speeches. Hamlet’s first great soliloquy, “O that this too too solid flesh…” is spoken in voiceover. This is an obvious yet brilliant choice, as we are hearing Hamlet’s thoughts. But then, as Hamlet repeats the phrase, “And yet within a month” aloud, he is engaged in a duet with himself, which perfectly mirrors his actions.  Olivier takes this a step further during the “To be, or not to be” speech, as he is up on the parapet, looking down at the waves crashing against the rocks. The camera is behind his head as we hear his thoughts. We wonder – Is he thinking of killing himself because of what he has just been forced to do to Ophelia? Then, as he mentions sleep, he almost pitches forward, as if in that twilight between sleep and dream.

Olivier isn’t just an actor interested in preserving performances on the screen. As director, he is conscious of the importance of striking images. When he emerges from the fog in silhouette with his sword at meeting the ghost, he looks holy, and his best self-conception. When the ghost recounts his murder, we see Hamlet imagining it, yet we do not see the face of Claudius. The murderer is left anonymous.  When Hamlet crushes Ophelia (Jean Simmons) during the Nunnery speech, he kisses her hair as she weeps, as though he’s trying to tell her that his insanity is all an act. For so much of the first part of the film, Hamlet is silently brooding, looking out of windows, into rooms, mulling over his fate.

The action changes with the coming of the actors. We see Hamlet, in darkness, and once Polonius comes forward with the torchlight, the silence breaks. (Olivier will use the torch later, during the dumb show to expose his uncle’s treachery.) The players and a walking dog enter, there is an explosion of light, sound and motion, which snaps Hamlet out of his indecision. Once they leave, he shouts, “The play’s the thing,” and we wonder if all of this hasn’t perhaps happened a little too fast.
Some portions do not play as well today as they no doubt did back at the film’s release. Ophelia’s death, for example, staged like an old painting, with voiceover to explain her end, is one example. Then again, when Hamlet is at sea, we get about 20 seconds of swashbuckling which almost makes us wish we could see this movie. Jean Simmons’ Ophelia is suitably helpless and tragic, and Norman Wooland’s Horatio, without the restraining influence of Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, is all one requires in Hamlet’s friend and sounding board.  

Hamlet is finally resolved to his task just before the sword bout with Laertes (Terence Morgan), even though this act itself doesn’t seem to be getting him any closer to revenge. But once Gertrude drinks the spiked wine, the music slows down, the action slows down, and it becomes obvious something is wrong. The fight is staged well, the action flows, with camera movement and cutting serving to heighten the situation, even as our eyes are drawn back to the doomed queen.

Olivier was most proud of his 14-foot leap at the end onto Claudius. We then see Hamlet without hesitation plunge his sword into the king, then the king grope for the crown, and collapse, after he is surrounded by his suddenly observant guards. Peter Cushing’s sinister Osric, who a moment earlier seemed in on the plot between king and would-be assassin, now holds the dying Laertes.

Hamlet collapses on the throne, king at last, and his body is borne through the castle, past the seat where he first brooded, and past the rooms where our action took place and we arrive back where we started. There is no invading army to bring down the curtain on his kingdom. His indecision has already done that for him. 

Next up: Toshiro Mifune
Previous post: The Play's the Thing...

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