Will Hamlet ever be done in modern english?

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I am student at Eldorado High School. In senior english we(all five of us)watched and I must say it was great, But will there be one in a form were I will be able to understand the whole thing and not just little parts.


-- Zach Ortiz (ZachZ28@aol.com), July 15, 1999


Well...I'm sure there have been movies with this "Father dies. Mother marries uncle. Dead father visits son. Son plots revenge. Stepfather plots son's death. Mother is poisoned. Son is poisoned. Dying son stabs stepfather...HAMLET. Suddenly your family seems normal." (courtesy Portland's Tygre's Heart Company 1996 playbill) type of plot; they just weren't called Hamlet! My brain is blocked right now, but does anyone know of any?

Having read bits of the Cliff Notes' Hamlet in Everyday English (not that I needed it or anything...just curious), I'm not sure that I'd want to see a movie of Hamlet done in "modern" language. Yes, we'd understand what the character's were saying but...those plotholes would be spotted more quickly too (see "England" thread above). BTW, Ethan Hawke is starring in a new movie version of Hamlet <*cringe*> which is "updated" -- not sure about the language though.

-- Virginia (vleong@ibm.net), July 17, 1999.

Check out Strange Brew starring the McKenzie Brothers, Bob and Doug. It is based upon Hamlet and provides hilarious, modern commentary on the issues involved in the play.

-- matt (matthelm96@aol.com), March 30, 2000.

Please, don't plant the though. I can see a Hamlet done in modern times but with almost all of shakespeares plays if you take them out of contex as moving them to modern english, you loose almost all of the important information, all of the little nuances that makes a shakespear a shakespear.

-- Marc L (marc_lowe@dell.com), August 26, 2000.

I´ve studied Shakespeare at University, and I personally believe that the difficulty for us, non English native speakers, is the lack of knowledge about the historical context, and the complexity of constructions, not the Old English words themselves. I think that the beauty in Shakespeare´s works lays, precisely, on his language treatment, on his WORDS which, if they were treated in any other way -concise way, for instance, like in Present Day English, or in our everyday terms-, the plays would absolutely lose their magic and ´solera´,and they would be just one more love story, basically. His works are not just the (brilliant) plots, but the way they are told. Take Kenneth Branagh´s films, for example. He experiments with the time the plays take place (he places his "Hamlet" three centuries later than Shakespeare), but the work is much the same, if not closer to the spectator, and there still is the complete beauty of the play, because those magical words remain. So, I think that a Shakespeare play in Present Day English would tell us, more or less, what the story is about. We´d turn him into a mere scriptwriter, and we´d lose the greatest writer of all times. All this is just my humble opinion. Best regards, Cristina.

-- cristina (cristina_loves_the_uk@hotmail.com), May 06, 2001.

Yeah, sure. Just give the movie makers time and soon they'll get stuck for a good plot and turn to the best playwright of all time's most famous play! I'm not saying it'll be a good adaption, I'm just saying someone will try it, and there is probably already one floating around somewhere that is absolute rubbish!!! There are tons of great books explaining the plot too.

-- Jenny (jenny@harrissalwarpe@clara.co.uk), July 11, 2002.

I was watching French and Saunders in the middle of the night recently. Hope you get that in the US, so you know what I'm talking about - two female British comedians. They did a clip, in black and white, sending up those old, traumatised Northern European films, including the Ingmar Bergman classic, THE SEVENTH SEAL. That's set in the Middle Ages, with a bloke trying to solve the big questions of life before he dies, whilst playing a game of chess with Death (a la the Grim Reaper).

So. The gist of it was: Dawn and French are having nervous breakdowns about sweeping the floor and making the tea. Then this young fella walks in, Nordic looking, white-blond hair, sturdy, suit of chain mail. He walks to the window and does a parody of I.ii.129-137 (O, that this too, too solid flesh ...). Sauders walks over to him and offers, 'Cup a tea?' 'Hmm,' he responds, turning, 'That'd be nice.'

Death walks in, black hooded cloak, white face, scythe. Asked what he wants he points at the fella in the chain mail. 'Can't you wait?' French and Saunders ask. 'He's having his tea.' Death nods grudgingly. Then he has some tea too.

Well, it was sort of funny in a bizarre way in the middle of the night.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), July 12, 2002.

Also, I'm glossing HAMLET at the moment. Looking at every word in that detail has made me realize more than ever: you can explain HAMLET, but there's no way you could say it better, or even equivalently, no matter what century's English you used.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), July 18, 2002.

The Lion King is another modern interpretation of this play. It shows all of this.

-- Kristen (SweetEPie413@hotmail.com), February 02, 2003.

I think that a present english version of Hamlet would ruin the point of it being shakespeare, but do not object to a mondern day adaptation ( such as Baz Luhrman did with Romeo and Juliet). I think is will not only increase understanding, but appeal to those not perhaps, smart enough to understand it.

-- Donnie Darko (DDarko9@aol.com), June 12, 2003.

I think that you should take some more English classes. It's not my first language, but it seems to me getting sentence structure in modern English correctly might be the first step to understanding Shakespeare.

-- Flak (gg@gg.net), October 11, 2003.

In the Forties my father, Irving Fiske, translated Hamlet into Modern English. This was a daring and controversial step at the time and many well-known people commented on it; George Bernard Shaw said "Your work needs no justification. I will say of Irving Fiske as... Mozart said of Beethoven... "You will hear of this young man."

Irving's Hamlet was performed in little theaters around the country and particularly in colleges in the South such as Troy State College in Alabama.

My father died in 1990-- but we still hold the copyright to this play. However, if anyone is interested, I'm sure I could work out an arrangment to show it to you. Best, Isabella

-- Isabella Fiske McFarlin (ladybell@sover.net), November 11, 2003.

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