Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Wolfman (2010)

Hamlet played by Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro).

As this rather good summary notices, there are plenty of less overt parallel's between The Wolfman and Shakespeare's play (the writer is reviewing Jonathan Maberry's novelisation but the connections are still valid). But without prior warning it's still something of a surprise to be confronted by this splinter of performance with Benicio Del Toro tortuously working his way through a chunk of Yorick, skull in hand.

This is the interior of Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond in Surrey, southwest of London, which as this reverse shot demonstrates is a classic, old school proscenium arch house.  It's 1891, so the audience is still the black tie crowd.  Perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on Talbot's interpretation.  In 1892, Herbert Beerbohm Tree mounted his famous production of the play, pictured here, and as you can hear from this later recording, the acting style of the time was different and we might imagine Del Toro heard that as part of his research.

That's an uncredited Sam Hazeldine as Horatio (Barty Crouch Jr. in the Harry Potter films).  It's difficult to tell who the Gravedigger is.  The next scene is in the post performance party where Elizabeth Croft is credited as an Ophelia (one of her next jobs was as a Vampire Girl on Doctor Who's Vampires in Venice) and Brigette Miller as Gertrude (Emmeline Vance in the Harry Potter films).

Notice how elaborate the set is.  The production designers and set decorators are well researched.  As The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage explains, this was still the period when plays would often be shortened to make way for elaborate effects and recreating worlds on stage, the entire locale changing between scenes, rather than simply between acts or halves as is often the case now.  Often plays would be adapted into much shorter versions or spoofs like W. S. Gilbert's parody of Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which was first produced in 1891.

The next shot in the film is of Emily Blunt's Gwen Conliffe in one of the boxes regarding the performance.  In the Hamlet analogy, she's the Ophelia of The Wolfman.

The sequence ends with this shot from above as Hamlet regards Yorrick as actors often do. The full section of the speech is ...

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips ..."

... the shots changing between clauses even when Talbot/Del Toro ignores the obvious pause where the exclamation point is after "imagination it is".

The scene ends on Blunt's face as he says, "Here hung those lips..." which causes us to immediately look at her lips such is the nature of editing, which is important because she has information to impart.

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