Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fodor's Hamlet: Not Just Another Ghost Story

Hamlet. Dir. Alexander Fodor. Perf. Wilson Belchambers, Lydia Piechowiak (as Polonia), Alan Hanson, and Tallulah Sheffield. 2007. DVD. S’more Entertainment, Inc., 2009.


Whenever I give a final examination in Shakespeare and Film, I show the students a couple of clips that they have to analyze on the spot. It's a good assignment, giving them a chance to demonstrate both the vocabulary and the skills of analysis that they've been developing through the course.

It's always something we hadn't covered in class, and I always show them two clips and have them choose the one they feel they can write about best. I also always tell them that I don't want a review or a summary of the plot; instead, I want them to develop an essay that analyzes the decisions the director(s) and the actor(s) have made, not one that critiques their ability to carry it out.

This year, I showed them a clip from the Fodor Hamlet. It's not a Hamlet that I particularly like—I don't think it works that well overall. But the nunnery scene has a lot that the students can write about, including the interesting shift from Polonius, Ophelia's father, to Polonia, Ophelia's sister:


I'm wondering what direction the students who choose that clip will take their essays. Will they talk about how the power dynamic changes with the shift from Polonius to Polonia? Will they talk about the disorientation the film intends us to have—preventing us from knowing exactly how the observation of Hamlet and Ophelia works? Will they talk about the seagull / dolphin sounds and whether they appear to be diegetic or non-diegetic? I do hope they do something like that—rather than critiquing the acting and the film-making (which is, admittedly, bad—but which isn't meant to be the focus of their essays).

Links: The Film's Official Web Site.


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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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