By Joe McGovern
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:49 AM EDT
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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

C
type
  • Movie

”Who’d have thought we were so important?” muses Rosencrantz (Gary Oldman) in the movie version of Tom Stoppard’s brainy remodeling of Hamlet. Broadway audiences feasted on the 1967 slab of metatheater Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, with its absurdist wordplay and self-congratulatory in-jokes, but the conceit of Shakespeare’s tragedy as interpreted by two daffy minor characters loses its farcical resonance within the confines of a movie. (Particularly as directed, laboriously, by the playwright himself.) Oldman and Tim Roth project the existential confusion of pawns in a game too grand to comprehend, but Stoppard’s suffocating tone can’t elevate the film above a precious academic stunt. EXTRAS A second disc of lethargic chats with the leads yields scanty anecdotal rewards. But Roth does reveal that he lucked into his role after first choice Daniel Day-Lewis suffered an onstage breakdown while performing Hamlet‘s ghost scene in London (”I really do owe Danny, or especially the ghost of his father, quite a lot,” quips Roth), and Stoppard admits what he told a reporter who asked what his play was about: ”It’s about to make me rich.”

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

type
  • Movie
mpaa
  • PG
director
  • Tom Stoppard

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