Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. United Kingdom/USA, 1990. Brandenberg, WNET Channel 13 New York. Screenplay by Tom Stoppard, based on his play and The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Peter Biziou. Produced by Emanuel Azenberg, Michael Brandman. Music by Stanley Myers. Production Design by Vaughan Edwards. Costume Design by Andreane Neofitou. Film Editing by Nicolas Gaster. Independent Spirit Awards 1991.
Tom Stoppard’s delightful play has lost much of its wit and energy in its transformation to the big screen. It centers around Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet whose fate is quickly done away with by the Prince of Denmark’s swift skills of survival. In this story, however, Hamlet is happening somewhere else while these two make their way to Elsinore and await their audience with the King and his much-confused nephew. Tim Roth and Gary Oldman are terrific in the lead roles, but Stoppard has opened his play up too much for the big screen and has lost the concentration on razor-sharp dialogue that made the stage experience such a rare one.