I watched a delightful movie this weekend. Or maybe I watched a terrible movie. Or maybe I watched one of the greatest plays in English literature. It’s kind of hard to tell, since what I saw was Mystery Science Theatre 3000’s take on a lame dubbed German version of “Hamlet.”
This Hamlet had Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Fortinbras surgically removed, whether it was by the editors of MST3K (who need movies to fit into their timeframe) or by the directors of Hamlet.
I’ve never liked Hamlet, and before you think I’m trashing Shakespeare, I’m not. I loved “Othello,” greatly enjoyed “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and liked “The Tempest.” I even liked “Julius Caesar,” despite its liberties with history.
It’s Hamlet. I don’t like Hamlet. What can I say, the guy bugs me. The play’s action is centered around inaction, and while I understand that he’s conflicted between his duties as a prince and his college student humanist ideas, I don’t care. I find him annoying. And the way he treats Ophelia is irritating, although it certainly does seem to be the relationship a teenage girl thinks she wants: a controlling, irresponsible guy who’s moody, crazy and probably wears black all the time. Okay, maybe I’m reading too much into it.
But I’ve never liked Hamlet.
Taking the MST3K spin on it was a whole lot more palatable than the original, I thought. The characters made fun of the sparsity and angular dullness of the set, the glam-sparkly look of Hamlet’s father’s ghost and the bizarre hairdo of the queen, which may have been the inspiration for Queen Amidala in the most recent Star Wars trilogy.
But they also took on the text of the play itself, something usually viewed as sacred ground for literature enthusiasts.
Hamlet’s death scene is (if you’ll pardon the pun) interminable. And that’s the way it was written (although the staging of this particular version certainly didn’t help).
Still a big Shakespeare fan, though. Just not a fan of Hamlet.
(Don’t get me started on Romeo and Juliet, either.)