I just finished listening to Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel, written by A. J. Hartley and David Hewson, and narrated by Richard Armitage. It’s surprisingly well-written and, of course, magnificently performed by Armitage.
You’d think that Hamlet would be done to death by now, but these writers managed to bring something fresh and very engaging to the table. Hamlet, although definitely still a brooding character, feels a lot less like a navel-gazer and a lot more like a caged lion, brooding only because he has not yet figured out how to sink his teeth into his prey. Every character is well-drawn, including the clever new device of expanding Yorick into a main character with often-hilarious, biting dialogue. By the time the final scene occurred, bathed in blood as usual, I was twisted up inside with all of the individual characters’ desperations and I could see the whole thing happening not as some giant farcical tragedy but as a set of unavoidable forces all crashing into each other, each person hurting inside and out.
Armitage’s beautiful voice and excellent acting can redeem even a story as tedious as A Convenient Marriage, but thankfully he had such good subject matter to work with here that the dark richness of his natural tone is the perfect means to convey the inner workings of an ancient castle and the simmering hatred of a wronged prince. Armitage slipped easily from accent to accent, high-born and low-born, native and foreigner, male and female, comic and tragic, old and young. It was often easy to forget that one man was speaking all the lines, and instead I saw a young woman or an old lord in my mind’s eye without the slightest effort.
If you haven’t listened to this audiobook—even if you normally don’t listen to audiobooks—you should go listen to this one.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel is well worth your time.
HEY SHAKESPEARE FANS
Vishal Bhardwaj, the director responsible for my favorite Shakespeare modernization ever, has finished his version of Hamlet and it is coming out soon!
(click the CC for Engish subtitles)
As is always the case with adaptations—modernizations in particular—Bhardwaj’s films pick and choose which themes/characters to emphasize, so YMMV if you have feelings about the source text. For example, I thought the changes worked SPLENDIDLY in Omkara; that film incorporates all of Othello's plot-relevant characters, and in many cases gives them more development. Meanwhile, I found Maqbool disappointing because the aspects of Macbeth that I find most compelling were very much not what the film wanted to focus on.
Going by the trailer, Haider changes quite a bit about Ophelia’s role, and it is probably not the film for you if Horatio is your very favorite. I’d wager it’s Hamlet the way last year’s Ram-Leela (by a different director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali) is Romeo and Juliet. But Bhardwaj’s movies are always fantastic, so it’ll be worth watching for sure.
Program with cast list for Hamlet, National Theatre, 1963. Another deep sigh.
Still, considering Pratchett did both Macbeth and A Midsummer’s Night Dream featuring the Lancre witches, who else would want to see Vetinari and the Watch deal with someone pulling a Hamlet?
Gods, it would be precious.
'You stab- you stabbed him through the curtain? Really? Cause you thought he was a rat?'
'You know, it is generally widely accepted that rats can’t talk.’ *beat* ‘Unless they’ve been eating the garbage from the Unseen University, of course.’
'Oh - oh, great. You just killed him with the poisoned sword. And yourself, too. Fantastic- MADAM, PUT DOWN THAT GOBLET - Oh. There she goes. Out like a light. Well, your lordshi- Oh, he killed you too? Gods. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother.’
Hamlet the sore winner.
i love hamlet
Richard E Grant’s closing Hamlet, from Withnail & I (1:20)
This is my 2nd favourite Richard E. Grant Hamlet soliloquy. (My favourite is the technopop rendition of To be or not to be.)
Hi, my name is Putu Mark, and I have an obsession with Shakespeare and way too much free time. That’s why I’ve decided to take my all time favorite play of his, “Hamlet”, and modernize it. Briefly - before I begin publishing the actual story - I’d like to go over a summary of the story and then an explanation of it. And since brevity is the soul of wit, I shall be brief, so here goes!
Facing a lack of closure over her mother’s death three-years previously, Amy drags her best friend Tori along on a quest to seek closure with her estranged family. Little do they know that everything has changed - and not for the better. It might just be Amy’s imagination, but her aunt and father just seem a little bit too close… It’s up to Amy and Tori to find the truth about Amy’s mother’s death before it’s too late… Told from the perspective of different characters and their blogs, diaries, journals, and notes.
You will absolutely love this is you love:
piccies from World Hamlet © Helena Miscioscia.
John Dougall (Claudius / Polonius)
Ladi Emeruwa (Hamlet)
Amanda Wilkin (Ophelia) and Tom Lawrence (Horatio/Rosencratz/Laertes/Guildenstern)