Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

• TOP NOTCH (my top choices)
• HONORABLE MENTION (well worth watching)
• YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER (I like them but you might not)
• CLASSICS (Great movies up through the 1960s - many don't have any rating)

Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss

Summary - Two minor characters from the play 'Hamlet' stumble around unaware of their scripted lives and unable to deviate from them.

Cautions - Hamlet related deaths and three naked butt shots (2 female and 1 male) for no apparent reason.

Commentary - Based on the acclaimed play, the film depicts events from the point of view of two minor characters from Hamlet, men who have no control over their destiny, this film examines fate and asks if we can ever really know what's going on?

It took over two decades for Tom Stoppard's hit London and Broadway production to reach the screen and it is obviously a labor of love for all concerned. Stoppard's intellectual word games and bits of comic business are exhilaratingly clever while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's antics as they stumble in and out of Hamlet make them part Abbott and Costello, and part Laurel and Hardy.

There are bitingly fresh setpieces like an imaginary tennis question game between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ("Foul! No rhetoric. 2 to 1!") and running gags like Rosencrantz's physics experiments.

Unfortunately, Stoppard the director does not match the brilliance of Stoppard the writer. His direction is ploddingly pedestrian and suffers from a 1980s "Masterpiece Theater" stylistic atrophy. Peter Bizou's murky, downbeat cinematography, drags the film down into art-film bogs. To be completely successful, the film needed a light, slightly askew directorial sensibility. But this film, instead, is burdened with a heavy lugubriousness.

THAT SAID, the writing is so clever and the performances so spritely that they often shine through the heavy handed direction. In my opinion, the film more than makes up for its faults by being that rare film--a literate and thought-provoking celebration of the spoken word. It's "stark raving sane."

To test whether or not this film is your sense of humor, I present the following:

Guildenstern: What's the first thing you remember?
Rosencrantz: [thinks] No, it's no good. It was a long time ago.
Guildenstern: No, you don't take my meaning. What's the first thing you remember after all the things you've forgotten?
Rosencrantz: Oh, I see... I've forgotten the question.

Funny? Go watch the movie.


Popular Posts