So, unless you've been living under a rock most of your life, you probably know who Hamlet is - and also probably know it's a play by wordsmith William Shakespeare. Most people, myself included, can even spit quotes from this work of art on queue, even though honestly? If memory serves me, I could barely make heads or tales of it when I was in school. The overall plot I understood but the nuances? Not so much. Now, fast forward a few decades, and it's still a tongue-twisting hoard of gibberish, but thankfully I've seen some of the modern takes on the subject matter and do, in fact, get it.
"Hamlet/Horatio" is pretty much more of the same - a rehashing of the classic story. However, it's more an exercise in style, visually, than anything else. I won't deny it, reader, I actually really liked the way this rendition played out, and it's all kind of cool, really - let me paint a picture. We know the story or the gist of it, but what we get with "Hamlet/Horatio" is a cameraman awaiting the cast and crew on the film's set. Then we have the troupe enter with props and the like, and finally, the story begins. It's like we, the audience, are front row and privy to the inner workings of a classic stage show. We see the sets; we see the stagehands; we see the camera from time to time. But we also get a cinematic version of the story and, most times, forget that the crew is even present. It's tough to explain except to say you need to watch to understand. So how did it all work out? I'm sure my rating says it all because even for me, a man who has trouble sitting through ten minutes of a Shakespeare production - was totally immersed. That pretty much sums it up.
Through the fog and stage decorations, one thing very quickly became apparent as I started my journey through this film - the dialog was definitely that of Shakespeare. Still, for some reason, I had no issues following along. I don't know exactly how accurate the dialog was, but it didn't matter - the words themselves were not the reason it was all making sense. It was the actions of the cast themselves. You need to be good to pull off Shakespeare - but you need to be excellent to hook those audience members that have trouble understanding Shakespeare. I can't state enough how cool it was to be able to enjoy this classic on more than an utterly casual level - for that alone, "Hamlet/Horatio" deserves high praise, but it doesn't end there. Not by a long shot.
I have one word. Design. At first, this film may look simplistic when it comes to the set design - but hidden away in the seemingly simple is a devious complexity. The smoke, lighted backdrops, and everything that encompasses the actors are clearly designed to shift attention to the actors while at the same time keeping the film visually interesting. This is no small task, and when you factor in the blocking actions of the cast themselves, this film begins to feel a lot more complex than anyone is letting on. Well, guys and gals, the cat is out of the bag.
At the end of the day, there's really not a lot more to say about this film. If you are a Shakespeare aficionado, I'm pretty sure you'll get a kick out of this one. As for me? Wow - it's Hamlet, and I totally loved it! I don't think there's much else to write except well done—four and a half stars.