Overture unveils a Hamlet for hipsters

EmileHirschThough I only skimmed over it yesterday, I decided to look more into Overture announcing that it would be producing a contemporary version of Hamlet because Variety‘s Anne Thompson actually included the quote from producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen that explains the reason why we need another filmed version:

“Hamlet was in college when the story takes place, yet there hasn’t been a movie version with an appropriately-aged actor playing the role. Our goal is to present the story as a suspense thriller. We want to make it exciting and accessible for an audience today.”

Apparently, it was actor Emile Hirsch who brought the project to them and to director Catherine Hardwicke (with whom he’d worked on Lords of Dogtown) while he was working on Milk, and Jinks and Cohen rewarded his tenacity by casting him as the lead and giving him Hardwicke as his director.

And speaking of Hirsch working with Hardwicke, here’s
another detail that makes my Shakespearean-loving heart tingle and cringe with dread at the same time:

[Hardwicke said,] “We edited the play tightly, making the words extremely accessible. In our version, we’re working hard to make Hamlet a thrilling cinematic experience—the violent, intense, and romantic scenes that happen ‘off-stage’ in the play will be shown in vivid detail.”

The script hasn’t been finished yet, but already I’m excited. After all, what people keep forgetting is that Shakespeare’s works were originally written to be enjoyed by everyone, not just the highbrow elite. And if people these days have a hard time imagining the beautiful romance between Ophelia and Hamlet that all went sour when he started his cat-and-mouse game, then why not show it to them?

It’s not his fault that as a people, the English language has shifted away from his, but the core of his plots and stories has and always will remain the same, and it’s that which I celebrate. College-aged Hamlet? Action and violence? Bring it on, I say!

But with the right script, of course. I’m not that much of a libertine.

Posted on June 4, 2009 at 06:38 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

7 Responses

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  1. Written by CV
    on 2009-06-04 at 07:32
    Permalink

    One brings to mind “Romeo and Juliet”, starring Leonardo di Caprio and a bunch of guns. Which was an abomination. But we won’t go into that.

    Instead, we could have “Twilight Hamlet”, in which Hamlet Cullen has a wacky love-hate-hijinks relationship with Bellophelia and then there’s some teen angst and maybe some fighting and then everyone dies. Now that will bring the teens out in droves, and teach them some English Literature to boot. Maybe not a bad thing… until you start really thinking about it.

  2. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on 2009-06-04 at 08:08
    Permalink

    When I was in college, I saw my acting for non-majors teacher in a production of “Romeo and Juliet” where the major fight between Tybalt and Mercutio involved bullwhips. That was hot.

  3. Written by Gav
    on 2009-06-04 at 08:33
    Permalink

    Everytime someone talks about editing Shakespeare’s words, I get jumpy. Cuts are not so bad, but when actual lines are changed to “make the words extremely accessible,” I just shake my head. If you’re going to paraphrase and rewrite Shakespeare, then you have to A)Know the original text REALLY well and TRULY understand it.
    and B)Be awfully close to Shakespeare’s skill with language.
    How many writers in Hollywood can claim this?
    Shakespeare is most clear when the director and all the actors don’t just know the text, but UNDERSTAND the text backwards and forwards.
    If they’re going to change all the text to prose, they should just admit it’s a different movie, like “10 Things I Hate About You” (Taming of the Shrew), “She’s All That” (Twelfth Night), etc etc. Notice an alarming trend in making Shakespeare accessible?

  4. Written by Anonymous
    on 2009-06-05 at 10:33
    Permalink

    There will always be room for Shakespeare productions starring Ben Kingsley and whatnot, but to repeat what Ms Lynn said, Shakespeare’s original audience didn’t have an English Lit degree; they went to the Globe to be entertained. There’s nothing wrong with a good movie showing off the ACCESSIBLE aspects of WS’s work if the writer and director understand that
    (a) yes there’s more to Hamlet’s story,
    (b) a deep study of the text takes longer than a 2 hour movie, and
    (c) Early Modern English plays don’t pace like 21st Century movies so make whatever changes will WORK for the medium.

  5. Written by Lethal Interjection
    on 2009-06-06 at 08:39
    Permalink

    I agree with Gav about the language. If you are going to make it with new language, then don’t call it Hamlet. You can mention that it is based off of it, but don’t claim a proper adaptation.
    But I don’t think this movie could be much worse than the Ethan Hawke version.

  6. Written by Rex Ruthor
    on 2009-06-06 at 15:09
    Permalink

    By that standard, you can’t make a Les Miserables or Count of Monte Cristo movie unless it’s in French?

  7. Written by Ben
    on 2009-06-06 at 22:43
    Permalink

    Re: “She’s All That” (Twelfth Night)…

    NO! WRONG! It was “She’s The Man” (a vastly better film) which was a modern retelling of Twelfth Night. If anything, “She’s All That” is a version of the myth of Pygmalion, or for those who aren’t up on their Greek myth, “My Fair Lady”.

    Sorry, my English Lit. major brain almost asphyxiated, and I had to let it out.

    By the way, I maintain that Pete Postlethwaite (Father Laurence) and Harold Perrineau (Mercutio) actually did VERY well with the dialogue in Luhrmann’s R&J adaptation; the rest of the actors sounded stilted, and THAT was what killed the movie for me.

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