Last Wednesday, one of those glorious, serendipitous moments happened to bring me to a production that has excited my spirit ever since.
As I sat tapping away at my keyboard, my husband scrolled through the menu on TV when he bumped into Great Performances. Knowing I wouldn't want to miss ballet if it was on, he checked out the upcoming broadcast.
I was disappointed for a fleeting second when it turned out to be a play. But only for a second.
Hamlet! My favorite of the Bard's plays. Yes, I have a movie poster from Zeffirelli's Hamlet in my living room.
This Hamlet is played by David Tennant, who helped me hear new things in Shakespeare's lines, in a play I love dearly and have seen in many incarnations.
Ecstasy of ecstacies - both the Ghost of the slain king and Claudius are played by Patrick Stewart.
There is a highly imaginative use of different cameras as metaphor throughout the production, including security cameras that don't register the ghost of Hamlet's father.
I was always impressed by Glen Close's version of Hamlet's mother, Gertrude - but this interpretation by Penny Downie is my favorite by far.
I quite like the real concern for the state of the soul in this production. There is a compassionate motivation to the Ghost's distressing appearances, as he seeks to spare his wife from paying for a sin she's not aware she's committing. Often the Ghost comes across as merely being consumed by sibling rivalry from beyond the grave. But not Patrick Stewart's version.
This Queen of Denmark is genuinely moving on from the death of her first husband, finding solace in her former brother-in-law, a far stronger woman than we normally see. Instead of playing Gertrude as a pawn between heads of state, Penny Downie gives us someone evolving past widowhood into an optimistic bride. Hamlet's revelations splinter Gertrude's world more intimately than I've seen done elsewhere, because this is played as a true family drama and less as a clash of royal titans.
The happy news - if you missed the broadcast, the film will be available on DVD on Tuesday, May 4th.
Until then, here is the trailer:
And here is my favorite scene from every version of Hamlet, the one I wait impatiently for - the scene in Hamlet's mother's room. It's posted here in two segments:
Janet says Sounds like a great interpretation, Julia. And I love Patrick Stewart. I'll have to look for it.
Sheila says Oooo that does look great! You can always sell something new to me! (well, something new-ish to ME anyhow, that's what I meant)
Travis says Another blog I visit had a similar promotion about this version of the play. I watched a clip of the 3rd soliloquy from Mr Tennant and was very impressed.