I spoke of Hamlet as he is sometimes spoken of by others, as a wimp who cannot make a decision. I would like to make it clear that I do NOT think of him that way. But it's been said. And, then again, there is Olivier's movie. (More soon about the movies. Mel Gibson, astonishingly enough, may be the winner here. My husband said I had a very odd perspective, and that was because when I first saw Gibson as Hamlet, I had never seen any of his other movies. So I came to him totally fresh. Have you seen it? It is remarkable.
Hamlet's "indecision" is right up there with his "madness" as a topic that seems to bring out the worst in people. As Bernard Shaw once wrote, and I paraphrase, Are the critics of Hamlet mad, or just feigning madness?
I plan to write about a few of the Hamlets I've seen, having already written about ones I would have liked to have seen: Robert Preston, Jackie Gleason, and John Goodman; also Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Day Lewis. Oh, and Paul Gross. But my focus may very well be on Richard Burton's Hamlet. Not sure yet. Right now I'm reading the Richard Burton Diaries, for which I'm very grateful to his devoted widow Sally Hay Burton, although Burton seems to have skipped the months I wanted to read about, his work on his famous production of Hamlet. Well, perhaps he stopped writing in his diary because he WAS working so hard on his role. Still, it seems a bizarre gap.
Thanks, also, to Mrs. Burton for her finding, preserving, and making available the tape of Richard Burton's stage version of Hamlet. Apparently, all the tapes of that stage production, once shown in movies theaters (and colleges), were destroyed. I cannot fathom why. A p.r. stunt? But each actor was given a souvenir copy. And after Burton's death, his widow found his copy with some of his other personal possessions, in a garage, I think. And that's why a DVD of it is available. I do NOT intend to hold up this version of Hamlet as a model. I just plan to discuss it.