There be dragons!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

To Bes Compared

I got interested in these interpretations and thought I'd try to string them all in one place.

William Shakespeare - To be, or not to be (from Hamlet 3/1)

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

First, Olivier. Not a big fan of this one; melodrama - bad camera work - very wooden. Cutting edge for its time.

Here's an acting student doing the same.

Derek Jacobi is pretty damn good in about everything he does.

An interesting one with Kevin Kline who, surprisingly, was classically trained. A bit too much of the Olivier here, though; sort of "hi, I'm Kevin Kline and I'm acting":

Have I ever seen a Zefferelli film I didn't like? Let's think... no. Probably the best version of the Danish prince I've yet seen. Gibson does a phenomenal job (in his pre-drinking, pre Jew-hating, pre-Apocalyptic days).

Ugh. Branagh. God's gift to acting. Probably one of the more painful renditions of this play I've seen and this... this travesty... where the words of anguish are just more patina for the glory of Branagh's ego.

If you're going to see any modern renditions of Shakespeare ("O", "Ten Things I Hate About You", "Richard III") make it the Ethan Hawke Hamlet. God. He so gets the modern world in this, the obsession with media, the sorrow and loss of daddy as a figure of respect - this scene puts the suicide speech in Blockbuster video! Brilliant! In the midst of all this wonderful glitz and all he wants is to cut his own throat; America entertaining itself to death. Bill Murray is excellent in this production as Polonius.

And of course there's Schwarzenegger:


  1. You forgot this one

  2. Watching Kenneth Branagh for 3+ hours playing Hamlet was one of the most painful things I have ever seen. Between his horrible direction, making himself into Jesus every 5 minutes, and his terrible highlights (who is he kidding) I was about ready to join everyone by the end of the "play." Watching Brag trip over his ego for hours is not something I recommend for anyone.