Review: ‘Rosencrantz & Guildenstern – Are Dead’

Marking his debut as director, playwright Tom Stoppard takes two marginal characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet, and places them at the center of a comedy-drama, while the major characters of the play - Hamlet, Ophelia, Claudius and the rest - are only part of the background.

Marking his debut as director, playwright Tom Stoppard takes two marginal characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and places them at the center of a comedy-drama, while the major characters of the play – Hamlet, Ophelia, Claudius and the rest – are only part of the background.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are never certain about what’s going on in Elsinore. They overhear crucial conversations and encounters, they talk briefly to the King and to Hamlet, and, in the end, they accompany Hamlet on a voyage to England, but they’re never a part of the central drama. NP>Stoppard’s 1967 play has been seen as a mixture of Samuel Beckett and Shakespeare, but on film, he adds cinematic references so that the two protagonists, with their endless word games, come across as a mixture of Abbott & Costello (the ‘Who’s On First’ routine) and Laurel and Hardy (with the clumsy Rosencrantz forever annoying and frustrating the superior Guildenstern). There’s also a touch of Monty Python in the zaniness of the characters and their verbal and visual antics.

Gary Oldman and Tim Roth are splendid in their roles. Oldman plays his character as a shrewd simpleton, and Roth plays his as a man who thinks he’s clever, but really isn’t. Also giving a formidable performance is Richard Dreyfuss as the leader of a band of strolling players.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern - Are Dead

UK

Production

Brandenberg. Director Tom Stoppard; Producer Michael Brandman, Emanuel Azenberg; Screenplay Tom Stoppard; Camera Peter Biziou; Editor Nicolas Gaster; Music Stanley Myers; Art Director Vaughan Edwards

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Gary Oldman Tim Roth Richard Dreyfuss Iain Glen Joanna Roth Donald Sumpter
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading