Hamlet Screenplay 2
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Enter NARRATOR, dressed as REYNALDO.  She has her hair down, though.  She is making minor adjustments to her costume, as if she had just changed it.

			So, here we are.  And haven’t things gone
			well?  Hamlet is in a marvellous melancholy,
			Claudius is king, Gertruda his wife, and old
			Hamlet dead.

She sits down in Polonius’s chair.  There are papers, stacks of coins, astrological charts, and paraphernalia all over the place.

			And it’s pretty accurate compared to the 
			way it actually happened -- way back in the
			year of our...
				      ...excuse me, 932.  Yes, more than
			a thousand years ago.  And since then the 
			story just won’t keep quiet, as it were.  The
			first record of it surviving in the west was
			set down over 200 years afterward by one 
			Saxo Grammaticus, or, the “Saxon Writer.”
			It was later published in ---

					VOICE (O.S.)
				(in Latin)
			Historia Danicae.

Murmuring from what must be an audience.

			Yes, the History of the Danes.  It’s a 
			somewhat garbled account and mixes elements
			from more than one source -- but still, the 
			the main aspects of it weren’t all that
			uncommon...in ancient times.  Many of the key
			scenes occurred, for instance, in Rome: as in the
			story of Lucius Iunius Brutus.  
			So Saxo relates,
			in his own way, certain essential facts.  The
 			elimination of the old King by his brother --
			he was a bastard, by the way -- the consequent
			illicit marriage, the feigned madness on the
			part of the Hamlet character (he was originally
			called Amlethi) and the revenge motif; in this
			case a long delayed revenge, but a revenge

She plays with the money on the desk.

			Eventually the story reappeared in a French 
			version, and it was this version, the 
			Belleforest, that this Shakespeare got a
			hold of and formed the source material for
			his play.
			Here I will not get into the convoluted history
			of Q1, Q2, F, et cetera, as it is not to the
 			purpose.  Shakespeare’s version, although in part
			florid and overblown, and compressed as to time-
			span, is accurate in all essential details.

She gets up.

			And where it doesn’t accord with the facts it
			actually makes the overall situation clearer.
				(examining coin)
			Look at that: they’re still using the head of
			Caesar on their coins.  These Danish
			mo... fancy themselves as inheritors of 
			the Roman tradition of “Gloria.”  Well, let
			them have their fun...for now.  So, what’s
			next?  I do believe Polonius is due.


REVERSE TRACKING SHOT.  Polonius marching down a corridor.

			He’s coming this way.  Can you zoom in a 
			little, Mac?

Polonius turns a corner, and the camera stays where it is.

			There, run that back again.

The Background Scene reverses, and then goes forward again, Polonius turning the corner again.

			Right there.  You see that?  
			That’s right, Polonius is a Jew.  He wanted
			to name himself “Polonicus” -- after the Roman
 			fashion, meaning: “Conqueror of Poland” -- 
			but he didn’t have the guts.  Here he comes now.



Enter Polonius.  Polonius rummages and turns up a packet of letters and a purse.  No matter what bizarre antics the Narrator performs, Polonius doesn’t react -- as if he didn’t even see them.

			Hamlet hates him, of course, and thinks
			he’s an idiot.  But he’s actually a very
			important person in the court: Minister of 
			Finance.  And now Chief Advisor to Claudius.
			But we can’t get into how that happened now.

			Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.

			I will, my lord.

Polonius turns to go, but then thinks better of it and returns with a new thought.  When he says the word “marvellous,” the Narrator mouths it.

			You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo,
			Before you visit him, to make inquire
			Of his behavior.

				(looking aside first)
			My lord, I did intend it.

Polonius looks at the Narrator, as if noticing her for the first time.

			Marry, well said, very well said.

The Narrator removes a coin from the purse and puts it into her own pocket as a reward.

			Look you, sir,
			Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris,
			And how, and who, what means, and where they keep.

The Narrator produces a notebook and keeps track of these things, now hurrying to keep up.

			What company, at what expense; and finding
			By this strategem and drift of question
			That they do know my son, come then you closer
			To the real truth than what you seem to inquire.
The Narrator makes a face aside of mock surprise.

			Take you as ‘twere some distant knowledge of him,

She makes an obscene gesture.

			As thus, ‘I know his father, and his friends,

She makes another obscene gesture, this one worse than before.

			And in part, him.’  Do you mark this, Reynaldo.

			Ay, very well, my lord.

			‘And in part him. But,’ you may say, ‘not well;
			But if it be he in sooth, he’s very wild.’

She makes a face and an obscene gesture.

				(continuing; waving arms)
			‘Addicted so and so.’  And there put on him
			What forgeries you please.
				(turning to Narrator)
			Marry, none so rank
			As may dishonor him -- take heed of that.

She blows Polonius a kiss.

			But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips
			As are companions noted and most known
			To youth and liberty.

She looks Polonius up and down, while continuing to write.

			As gaming, my lord?

The Narrator mouths the rest of the following elements as they appear from Polonius.

			Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing,

The Narrator then, while writing, mouths the word “whoring.”

			Whoring.  You may go so far.

				(challenging the point)
			My lord, that would dishonor him.

			Faith, no, as you may season it in the charge.
			You must not put such a scandal on him,
			That he is open to incontinency --
			That’s not my meaning; but breathe his faults
				so quaintly
			That they may seem the taints of liberty,
			The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
			The savageness of untamed blood, plaguing
			Young men generally.

She writes this down, but then starts to object, as if this were too much.
			But my good lord --

			Why then, should you do this?

			Ay, my lord, I would know that.

			Marry, sir, here’s my drift,

The Narrator sticks her tongue out at him, but he’s turned the other way.

			And I believe it justifiable:
			Your laying these slight sullies on my son,
			Though it might seem a dirty trick.

He stops and thinks.  The Narrator makes a face at him and puts her hands to her ears, and waves them.

			Mark you,...

She writes this down.

			Your party in converse, the one you would sound,
			Having ever seen this youth you speak of
			Engaging in any of these listed crimes,
			Be certain he confesses it as follows:
				(acting it out)
			‘Good sir,’ or so: ‘Friend,’ or ‘Gentleman,’
			According to the customary phrase,
			In those parts --

While Polonius acts this out, the Narrator leers at him.

			Very good, my lord.

She stops writing and puts her notebook away.  This confuses Polonius, since he wasn’t finished.

			And then, sir, does a this, a does...
			What was I about to say?
				(to himself)
			Jesus Christ, I was about to say something.
				(to Narrator)
			Where did I leave?

				(referring to notes)
			At ‘Be certain he confesses it.’

Polonius really is afraid of Laertes consorting with prostitutes, but can’t get around to addressing the issue directly.

			‘Be certain he confesses it,’ Ay, marry.
			He says it so, ‘I know the gentleman,
			I saw him yesterday,’ or, ‘the other day.’
			Or then, or then, or some such, ‘And as you say,
			There was a gaming.’ ‘There oertook in’s drink,’
			‘There falling out at tennis,’ or, perchance
			‘I saw him enter such a house of sale’ --
			You know, a brothel, or so forth.

She just waits this time.  Polonius broods on this a moment.

			See you now,
			Your bait of falsehood takes this prize of truth;
			And thus do we of wisdom and of mind,
			With subtleties and with assays devious,
			By indirection find directions out.

She taunts him to his face, but he seems to see it not.

			So by my former lecture and advice
			Shall you my son.  You have me, have you not?

			My lord, I have.

She stashes her notebook, and gives Polonius the most aggressive and formal kiss you’ve ever seen.

			God be with you, fare you well.

			Good my lord.

			Align yourself to his inclination.

She spreads her legs and pumps her hips.
			I shall, my lord.

			And let him ply his music.

			Well, my lord.

She fusses with her breeches as she exits.  Polonius sits down and ruminates.

				(to himself)

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Watch this.

Enter Ophelia, distressed.

			How now, Ophelia, what’s the matter?

			O my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!

Polonius starts.



Polonius and Claudius are alone on the ramparts, watching something off-screen that horrifies them.  Their faces are illuminated by a strong white light coming from the same direction off-screen.


				(standing; horrified)
			With what, i’th’name of God?

			My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
			Lord Hamlet...



Hamlet and Ophelia act out the scene as Ophelia describes it.

					OPHELIA (V.O.)
			...with his doublet all unbrac’d,
			No hat upon his head, his stockings foul’d,
			Ungarter’d and down-gyved to his ankle,
			Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
			And with a look so piteous in purport
			As if he had been loosed out of hell
			To speak of horrors, he comes before me.


			Mad for thy love?

			My lord, I do not know,
			But truly I do fear it.

			What said he?

Ophelia now acts out the scene in semi-pantomime, although she narrates it also.
			He took me by the wrist and held me hard.
			Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
			And with his other hand thus o’er his brow
			He falls to such perusal of my face
			As he would draw it.


FAST-MOTION: sketch being done of Ophelia.  At the end, a blot of ink is thrown over it.

			Long stayed he so.
			At last, a little shaking of my arm,
			And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
			He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
			As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
			And end his being.

Ophelia/Hamlet collapses as if dead.



Hamlet and Ophelia act out the scene as Ophelia describes it.  Except the first thing Hamlet does is to kiss Ophelia very hard from his position right on top of her.

					OPHELIA (V.O.)
			That done, he lets me go,
			And with his head over his shoulder turned
			He seem’d to find his way without his eyes,
			For out o’doors he went without their helps,
			And to the last bended their light on me.


			Come, go with me, I will go seek the King.
			This is the very ecstasy of love,
			Whose violent property fordoes itself
			And leads the will to desperate undertakings
			As oft as any passion under heaven
				(regarding coins)
			That does afflict our natures.
				(to Ophelia)
			I am sorry...

Ophelia is crying.

			What, have you given him any hard words of late?

			No, my good lord, but as you did command,
			I did repel his letters and denied
			His access to me.

			That has made him mad.
			I am sorry I did not think this through,
			and discern his mind earlier.  I feared he meant
			but to trifle with you, and then soil your...
			reputation.  But beshrew my jealousy!  By 
			heaven, it is as fitting for us old-timers
			to delude ourselves in these matters, as it is
			common for the younger sort to lack discretion.

He comforts her, as she continues to sob.

			Come, go we to the King.
			This must be known, which, being kept close,
				might move
			More grief to hide than hate to utter love.

They walk off, slowly.


Closeup of a door.  It opens, and we enter into the THRONE ROOM.  Present are Claudius, Gertruda and courtiers.  Both King and Queen are drinking.  It is revealed that it is ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN who have entered.

			Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
			Moreover that we much did long to see you,
			The need we have to use you did provoke
			Our hasty sending.  Something have you heard
			Of Hamlet’s transformation -- so I call it,
			Sith nor th’exterior nor the inward man
			Resembles what it was.  What it should be,
			More than his father’s death, that thus hath put him
			So much from th’understanding of himself
			I cannot dream of.  I entreat you both
			That, being of so young days brought up with him,
			And sith so neighbour’d to his youth and ‘haviour,
			That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
			Some little time, so by your companies
			To draw him on to pleasures and to gather,
			So much as from occasion you may glean,
			Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus
			That, open’d, lies within our remedy.

			Good gentlemen, he hath much talk’d of you,
			To whom he more adheres.  If it will please you
			To show us so much gentry and good will
			As to expend your time with us awhile
			For the supply and profit of our hope,
			Your visitation shall receive such thanks
			As fits a king’s remembrance.

			Both your majesties
			Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
			Put your dread pleasures more into command
			Than to entreaty.

			But we both obey,
			And here give up ourselves in the full bent
			To lay our service freely at your feet
			To be commanded.

				(aside; confusing them)
			Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.

				(aside; correctly)
			Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.
			And I beseech you instantly to visit
			My too much changed son.
				(to courtiers)
			Go, some of you,
			And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.

			Heavens make our presence and our practices
			Pleasant and helpful to him.

				(aside; setting down cup)
			Ay, amen.

We swivel around and head out the door, passing Polonius, hustling in the other way.


Polonius is about to speak of Hamlet and Ophelia, but decides against it.

			Th’ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
			Are joyfully returned.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			He means my boys.  Yessir.

			Thou still hast been the father of good news.

			Have I, my lord?  I assure my good liege
			I hold my duty as I hold my soul,
			Both to my God and to my gracious King;
				(whispering to Claudius)
			And I do think -- or else this brain of mine
			Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
			As it hath us’d to do -- that I have found
			The very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			That’s what you think.

				(putting down cup)
			O speak of that: that do I long to hear.
			Give first admittance to th’ambassadors.
			My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.

			Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.

Exit Polonius.

				(continuing; to Gertruda)
			He tells me, my dear Gertruda, he hath found
			The head and source of all your son’s distemper.

				(to Claudius)
			I doubt it is none other but the main,
			His father’s death, and our o’er-hasty marrriage.

				(to Gertruda)
			Well, we shall sift him.

Enter Polonius, with Voltemand and Cornelius; they are now not only attired in the Viking fashion, but are tattoed heavily.

			Welcome, my good friends.
			Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?

			Most fair return of greetings and desires.
			Upon our news, he sent out to suppress
			His nephew’s levies, which to him appear’d
			To be a preparation ‘gainst the Polack;
			But better look’d into, he truly found
			It was against your highness.

			And then, being angered
			That so his sickness, age, and impotence
			Was falsely estimated, sends out arrests
			On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys,

The Narrator laughs softly over this. 


Fires burn brightly in a large HALL, the Norwegians are examining crude maps of the region.

			Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine,
			Makes vow before his uncle never more
			To give th’assay of arms against your Majesty.


			Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
			Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee


The Norwegians indicate a feint towards Poland, and then an attack on Denmark.
			And his commission to employ those soldiers
			So levied, as before, against the Polack,
			With an entreaty, herein further shown,

				(continuing; giving paper)
			That it might please you to give quiet pass
			Through your dominion for this enterprise
			On such fair terms of safety and allowance
			As therein are set down.

			It likes us well.
			And at our more consider’d time we’ll read,
			Answer, and think upon this business.
			Meantime, we thank you for your well-took labor.

He passes the paper off to an AID.

				(taking a drink)
			Go to your rest, at night we’ll feast together.
			Most welcome home.

He toasts them, and Gertruda joins in.  Voltemand and Cornelius exit, grinning at each other.  Polonius then delivers a performance for the court, which has been expecting it.

			This business is well ended.
				(gathers himself)
			My liege and madam, to expostulate
			What majesty should be, what duty is,
			Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
			Were nothing but to waste night, day,and time.
			Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
			And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
			I will be brief.  Your noble son is mad.

Reaction from court.

			Mad call I it, for to define true madness,
			What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
			But let that go.

			More matter with less art.

			Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
			That he is mad ‘tis true; ‘tis true ‘tis pity;
			And pity ‘tis ‘tis true.  
						A foolish figure --
				(to court)
			But farewell it, for I will use no art.
			Mad let us grant him then.  And now remains
			That we find out the cause of this effect,
			Or rather say the cause of this defect,
			For this effect defective comes by cause.
			Thus it remains; and the remainder thus:
				(giving Ophelia her cue)
			I have a daughter...

Ophelia, however, does not enter on cue.

			...have while she is mine...


Ophelia at a window: morose.

			Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
			Hath given me this.  Now gather and surmise.
			To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most
			beautified Ophelia.  That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase,
			‘beautified’ is a vile phrase.  But you shall hear:
			these; in her excellent white bosom, these, and et

			Came this from Hamlet to her?

			Good madam, stay awhile, I will be faithful.
				(acting it out)
			Doubt thou the stars are fire,
			Doubt that the sun doth move,
			Doubt truth to be a liar,
			But never doubt I love.
				(reading another; and
				acting it out)
			My dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers
			I have no art to reckon my groans.
			But that I love thee best, O most best,
			Believe it.  Adieu.
				(reading another; and 
				acting it out)
			Thine evermore, most dear lady whilst this
			machine is to him, Hamlet.

The court applaudes.  Then Polonius remembers to bow to them.

			This in obedience hath my daughter shown me,
			And, more above, hath his solicitings,
			As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
			All given mine ear.

			But how hath she received his love?

			What do you think of me?

			As of a man faithful and honorable.

			I hope to prove so.  But what might you think,
			If I had seen this hot love on the wing
			As I Perceived it, I must tell you that,
				(to court)
			Before my daughter told me,..
				(to Claudius)
								...what might you
			Or my dear Majesty your queen here think,
			If I had kept a bureaucratic silence,
			Or closed my heart, holding it mute and dumb,
			Or looked upon this ‘love’ with idle sight?
				(to court)
			What might you think?

Groans from courtiers.

			No, I went round to work,
			And my young mistress thus did I bespeak:

Ophelia wanders in to the room, distrought.

			‘Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.
			This must not be.’  And then I prescripts gave her,
			That she should lock herself from his ‘converse,’
			Admit no messengers, receive no tokens;
			Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,
			And he, repelled ---

Exclamations of approval from the courtiers.

			                 ...a short tale to make --

			Fell into a sadness, then to a fast,
			Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
			Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
			Into the madness wherein now he raves,
			And we all mourn for.

Applause from the courtiers.  Polonius holds up a hand, as if this were too much praise.

				(to Gertruda)
			Do you think ‘tis this?

			It may be; very like.

				(to Claudius)
			Hath there been such a time,..
				(to courtiers)
							       ...I would know,
				(to Claudius)
			That I have positively said, ’Tis so,’
			When it proved otherwise?

			Not that I know.

Polonius indicates his head and torso.

			Take this from this if this be otherwise.
			If circumstances lead me, I will find
			Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
			Within the center.

Applause.  Claudius drinks their health, and indicates the feasting should begin again.  More applause.


				(to Polonius)
			How may we try it further?

			At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him.
			Be you and I behind a curtain then,
			Mark the encounter.  If he love her not,
			And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
			Let me be no assistant to your state,
			But have me herding swine instead.

			We will try it.
Gertruda is looking down into an open-to-below area.

			But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.

			Away, I do beseech you both, away.
			I’ll board him presently.

He leads Gertruda back to Claudius.

				(to Claudius)
			O give me leave.

Claudius, after a brief moment, nods his agreement.


Hamlet has a book, but is only pretending to read it.  He’s scouting the location, and thinking.  Enter Polonius, in a supercilious mood.  Hamlet, however, is openly contemptuous of him.

			How does my good lord Hamlet?
			Well, God ‘a mercy.

Then he ignores him, pretending to read, and also looking about the room, as if for hidden enemies.

			Do you know me, my lord?

			Excellent well.  You are a fishmonger.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Hold on there, just hold on there
			one gosh darn minute.

The Action FREEZES.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			That word ‘fishmonger’ sounds harmless
			enough, but there’s more to it.  Hamlet
			is not accusing Polonius of being a mere
			shopkeeper, as it were, an insult, but


Polonius is presiding over a booth selling fish caught from the North Sea.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			a fairly mild one.  The word ‘fish’ also
			has a subsidiary meaning, current since the
			fifteenth century, and originating slightly 
			earlier.  So Shakespeare’s use of it is 
			slightly anachronistic, but we’ll let that
			pass.  It means ‘woman,’ specifically...


Another part of it: this time Polonius is presiding over the sale of NAKED SLAVE WOMEN from all over Europe.  Included in the group, not at first revealed, is Ophelia.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			...a woman used as a sexual object; that
			is to say, a whore.  So our boy Hamlet is
			rolling three insults into one with his
			apparently harmless little word.  Nor is
			that all.


A grossly fat RUSSIAN TRADER is performing a sexual act with the helpless whore-Ophelia.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Hamlet won’t let the allusion alone.  He 
			goes on to be more specific about Ophelia,
			implicating Polonius in deliberate abuse
			of her person.

Polonius appears behind the curtains, surveys the scene, grins, and counts out a handful of gold coins.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
Then, if that were not enough, he suggests old men, and therefore Polonius himself, as having ‘weak hams.’  Although the ham was known as part of the leg, it was used specifically in reference to swine.


Several pigs are rooting for food among the offal.  One of them turns toward us and its face MORPHS INTO the face of Polonius.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Hamlet is thus equating Polonius, however
			indirectly, with a pig, and the jewboy isn’t
			going to like that, even if it takes him a
			few moments to catch on.


Back to the frozen action.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Polonius thinks he’s smart, and he goes in
			there with an attitude, but let’s watch and
			see how Hamlet, feigning madness, takes care
			of him.
The action COMMENCES again, although we’ve rewound it a bit.

			Do you know me, my lord?

			Excellent well.  You are a fishmonger.

			Not I, my lord.
			Then I would you were so honest a man.

			Honest, my lord?

			Ay sir.  To be honest, as this world goes,
			Is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.

			That’s very true, my lord.

				(indicating book)
			For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog,
				(rumpling Polonius’s hair)
			Being a good kissing carrion...

Then he thinks better of kissing Polonius, and moves away a few steps.  Then he turns back, thinking of something.

			Have you a daughter?

			I have, my lord.
			Let her not walk in the sun.

Polonius moves to intercept Hamlet, requiring an explanation of this supposed insult, along with the others.

			Conception is a blessing, but as your
			daugher may conceive, friend, look to it.

Hamlet again moves away, and Polonius follows him again, very angry now.

			How say you by that?

Hamlet ignores him and reads his book.  Polonius thinks about what has transpired, coming to an erroneous conclusion.

			Still harping on my daughter.
			Yet he knew me not at first; he said
			I was a fishmonger.  
			He’s far gone.
			And truly, in my youth, I suffered for love,
			Very near this.  I’ll speak to him again.
				(to Hamlet; challenging)
			What do you read, my lord?

				(makes obscene gesture)
			Words, words, words.

				(smirks aside, then:)
			What is the matter, my lord?

			Between who?

			I mean the matter that you read, my lord.

			Slanders, sir.  For the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plumtree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, and most weak hams.

Polonius is now fuming; as he is about to say something, Hamlet interrupts him.

				(continuing; placating him)
			All which, sir, though I most powerfully and 
			potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to
			have it set down.  For yourself, sir,... 
			shall grow old as I am, if like a crab...
						...you could go backward.

			Though this be madnesss, yet there’s method
			in it.
				(to Hamlet)
			Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

			Into my grave?

			Indeed, that’s out of the air.
			How pregnant sometimes his replies are.
			A relevance that often madness hits on, which
			reason and sanity could not so prosperously
			be delivered of.  I will leave him and
			suddenly contrive the means of meeting between
			him and my daughter.
				(to Hamlet)
			My lord, I will take my leave.
			You cannot, sir, take from me anything that
			I would rather part withal.  Except my life.
			Except my life.

			Fare you well, my lord.

Exit Polonius.

			These tedious old fools.


Polonius striding one way, encounters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, going the other.

			You go to seek the Lord Hamlet.  
			There he is.

			God save you, sir.

			My honored lord.


This scene is shot with what might be termed a lurking camera: odd angles, locations from the floor, and from overhead, as if the three were being observed by an invisible watcher.  The first shot is a TRAVELLING SHOT, at floor level, following Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as they come into the Lower Room.  Then they stop, and find nothing to say.  They both have a nice new wardrobe.  Once again, the armor of Old Hamlet seems to dominate the room, and its

			My excellent good friends.  How are you,
			Guildenstern?  Ah, Rosencrantz.  Good lads,
			How do you, both?

			As the indifferent children of the earth.

			Happy in that we are not over-happy: on 
			Fortune’s cap we are not the very button.

			Nor the soles of her shoe?

			Neither, my lord.

			Then you live about her waist, or in the 
			middle of her favors?

			Faith, her privates, we.

			In the secret parts of fortune?  O most
			true, she is a strumpet.

They have an honest laugh, but then another awkward pause.

			What news?

			None, my lord, but the world’s grown honest.

			Then is doomsday near.  But your news is not true.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to think of a rejoinder to that, but can find none.

			Let me question more in particular.  What have
			you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of 
			Fortune that she sends you to prison hither?

				(thinks he’s on to
				something, at last)
			Prison, my lord?

			Denmark’s a prison.

			Then is the world one.

				(looking around)
			A goodly one, in which there are many
			confines, wards, and dungeons,... 
				(to the boys)
			Denmark being one of the worst.

Guildenstern, the thoughtful one, tries to decipher this.

			We think not so, my lord.

			Why, then ‘tis none to you; for there is
			nothing either good or bad but thinking
			makes it so.  To me it is a prison.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Rosencrantz, observing Hamlet looking 
			around, and pondering the armor, now comes 
			to the conclusion Hamlet is disappointed over
			Claudius having been elected king, instead of

			Why, then your ambition makes it one:
			‘tis too narrow for your mind.

			O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and
			count myself king of infinite space, were it
			not I have bad dreams.

			Those dreams are indeed ambition; for the 
			very substance of the ambitious is merely 
			the shadow of a dream.


Hamlet awakening from a nightmare.  M.O.S.

			A dream itself is but a shadow.

			Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light
			a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.

				(accusing them)
			In that case, a very pagan peasant is 
			truly alive in his own body, but our 
			monarchs, and our outstretched and 
			bygone heroes, are but the shadows 
			of real men.

That stumps them.  Sounds of another revel reverberate throughout the hall.

			Shall we to the court?  For the life of me,
			I cannot reason.

			We’ll wait upon you.

			No such matter.  I will not sort you with
			the rest of my servants; for, to speak you
			like an honest man,...
				(sotto voce)
						  ...I am most dreadfully
			But in the beaten way of friendship, what
			make you at Elsinore?

			To visit you, my lord, no other occasion.

			Peasant that I am, I am even poor in thanks, 
			but I thank you.  And sure, dear friends,
			my thanks are too great, even if merely a

Now they’re really confused.

				(accusing them)
			Were you not sent for?  Is it your own
			inclining?  Is it a free visitation?

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are surprised, and try to decide whether to confess by looking strangely at each other.

			Come, come, deal justly with me.  Come,
			come.  Nay, speak.

			What should we say, my lord?

			Why, anything, but to the purpose.  You were
			sent for, and there is a kind of confession
			in your looks, which your modesties have 
			not craft enough to color.  I know the good
			King and Queen have sent for you.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			You’re damn right they were.

			To what end, my lord?

			That you must teach me.

No response from the boys.

			Let me conjure you, by the rights of our
			fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth,
			by the obligation of our ever-preserved 
			love, and by whatever more dear a better
			proposer than I could charge you withal,
			be even and direct with me whether you 
			were sent for or no.

				(to Guildenstern)
			What say you?

They huddle apart.

			Nay, I have an eye on you.  If you love
			me, hold not off.

			My lord, we were sent for.

The sunbeams slanting through the windows have become striking.  The timbers have inlaid gold in them, catching the sunlight.

			I will tell you why; so shall my 
			anticipation prevent your discovery,
			and your secrecy to the King and Queen
			shall lose no gloss.
			I have of late, but for what reason I know
			not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom
			of exercise; and indeed it goes so heavily
			with my disposition that this goodly frame
			the earth seems a sterile promontory.
				(aside/to the boys)
			This most excellent canopy the air, look 
			you, this brave o’ranging firmament, this
			majestical roof fretted with golden fire,
			why, it appears nothing to me but a foul
			and pestilent congregation of vapors.
				(aside only)
			What a piece of work is man, how noble in
			reason, how infinite...

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			We’ll see about that.

							...in faculties, in form
			and moving how express and admirable, in
			action how like a god: the beauty of the 
			world the paragon of animals...
				(to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)
			...and yet, to me, what is this quintessence
			of dust?
			Man delights not me.
				(to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)
			Nor woman neither, though by your smiling you
			seem to say so.

			My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

			Why did you laugh then, when I said man delights
			not me?

				(thinks fast)
			To think, my lord if you delight not in man,
			what an empty welcome the players shall receive
			from you.  We passed them on the way.

			And hither they are coming to offer you service.

Hamlet describes the actors, but alludes to the roles Rosencrantz and Guildenstern may be playing with him.

			He that plays the king shall be welcome.  His
			majesty shall have tribute from me, the 
			adventurous knight shall use his foil and  
			target, the lover shall not sigh gratis, the
			humorous man shall end his part in peace, the
			clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are
			ever ready for it, and the lady shall say her
			mind freely, else...the blank verse shall halt
			for it.

He gets no definite reaction, but again discomfits the boys.

			What players are they?

			Even those you were wont to take such delight
			in, the tragedians of the city.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			First, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appear
			out of nowhere, and now the players.  Hamlet
			wonders if this is a coincidence.

			How chances it they travel?

The boys are flustered by the veiled accusation.

			Their residence in the city, both in 
			reputation and in profit, was better 
			both ways.

Guildenstern is becoming very cautious, and keeps glancing at Rosencrantz, hoping the latter won’t give anything away.  Hamlet notices this.

			I think their travelling comes by means of
			the late...innovation.

He indicates the sound of the revels, thus signifying the accession of Claudius as the reason.

			Do they command the same estimation they 
			did when I was in the city?

Nobody says anything.

			Are they so followed?

Rosencrantz feels a pang of guilt.

			No, indeed they are not.

			How comes it?  

The music of the revels booms through the castle.  Hamlet moves closer to Rosencrantz.

			Do they grow rusty?

			No, my good lord, no insufficiency 
			Of their own mars them.

			What is it then?



			With no strings.

			Puppets with no strings?


Shot of two rod puppets performing a Commedia del Art routine.

			Not a single one.

			Is it possible?

				(overly rapid)
			Indeed my lord, I would not thought it possible
			had I not observed it with my own eyes and 				sense: puppets holding forth in the most 					ludicrous fashion amid the cheering throngs,... 

				(laughing falsely)
			Do the stringless ones carry it away?

			...indeed my lord, and this continues in
			such a fashion that the normal players are 				shunted quite out of the way.  Hence, in order 			to carve out what remains of the action of the 			day, they are here arrived, to fulfill the very 			picture of your pleasure, as it were.

			Ha, ha, ha.

			Ha, ha, ha.

			It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of 
			Denmark, and those that would make mouths at him
			while my father lived now give twenty, forty, 
			fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture 			in little.
Hamlet looks at his own cameo, of Old Hamlet, and then to the armor.

			‘Sblood, there is something in this more than
			natural, if philosophy could find it out.

Then we HEAR MUSIC.  It is the players arriving.  Saved by the bell.

			There are the players.

			Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore.  Your
			hands, come then.  Th’appurtenance of welcome is
			fashion and ceremony.  Let me comply with you in 
			this garb, lest my extent to the players, which 
			I tell you must show fairly outwards should more
			appear like entertainment than yours.

Finally they shake hands.

			You are welcome.  But my uncle-father and 
			aunt-mother are deceived.

			In what, my dear lord?

			I am but mad north-north-west.  When the wind
			is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Enter Polonius.

				(trying to be expansive)
			Well be with you, Gentlemen.

			Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too.  At each
			ear a hearer.

They huddle together.

			That great baby you see there is not yet out
			of his swaddling-clouts.

			Happily he is the second time come to them, for 			they say an old man is twice a child.

			I will prophecy he comes to tell me of the 				players.  Mark it.
			You say right, sir, a Monday morning, ‘twas then 

			My lord, I have news to tell you.

				(to Polonius)
			My lord, I have news to tell you.  When Roscius 			was an actor in Rome --

			The actors are come hither, my lord.

			Buzz, buzz.

			Upon my honour...

			‘Then came each actor on his ass.’

			...the best actors in the world, either for 
			tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-
			comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-
			historical, tragical-comical-historical-
			pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited. 

Polonius finally has their attention.  And he pauses.

			Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too
			light. For the law of writ, and the liberty,
			these are the only men.

				(to Polonius)
			O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure 				hadst thou.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			All right, Jephthah, as you know, was a judge in
			Israel, and Hamlet here refers to the Book of 
			Judges, where it is described...

			What treasure had he, my lord?

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			...how this old Jephthah sacrificed his daughter.
			Hamlet is going to sing part of a song, known
			as ‘Jephthah, Judge of Israel.’

			One fair daughter and no more,
			The which he loved passing well.

			Still on my daughter.
				(to Polonius)
			Am I not in the right, Old Jephthah?

				(trying to reason to Hamlet)
			If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a
			daughter that I love passing well.

				(correcting him)
			Nay, that follows not.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Just because you have a daughter doesn’t
			mean you love her, you old bastard.

			What follows then, my lord?

			As by lot God wot,
			and then, you know,
			It came to pass, as most like it was...

He acts out the part of a woman becoming ever more pregnant.

			The first verse of the pious hymn will inform
			you more...
				(looking off)
			...for look where my abridgement comes.

Enter the PLAYERS.

They are singing a bawdy song and having a good time.
			You are welcome masters.  Welcome, all.  I am 
			glad to see thee well.  Welcome, good friends. 
			O, old friend, why, thy face is valanced since
			I saw thee last.  Com’st thou to beard me in
			Denmark?  What, my young lady and mistress?  				By’r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven 				than when 	I saw you last by the altitude of a 			chopine.  Pray God, your voice, like a piece of 			uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.  			Masters, you are all welcome.  We’ll even to it 			like French falconers, fly at anything we see.  			We’ll have a speech straight.  Come, give us a 			taste of your quality.  Come, a passionate 				speech.

					PLAYER 1
			What speech, my good lord?

			I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it
			was never acted, or if it was, not above once,
			for the play, I  remember, pleased not the 
			million, ‘twas caviare to the general.  But it 			was, as I received it, and others, whose 	
			judgments in such matters cried out on top of 
			mine, an excellent play, well digested in the
			scenes, set down with as much modesty as 
			cunning.  I remember one said there were
			no sallets in the lines to make the matter 
			savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might 
			indict the author of affectation, but called it 
			an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by 
			very much more handsome than fine.  One speech 
			in’t I chiefly loved -- ‘twas Aeneas’ tale to 
			Dido -- and therabout of it especailly when he 
			speaks of Priam’s slaughter.  If it live in your 
			memory, begin at this line, let me see, let me 
			see --
			The rugged Pyrrhus, like th’Hyrcanian beast --
				(speaks normally)
			‘Tis not so...it begins with Pyrrhus --
			The rugged Pyurrhus, he whose sable arms,
			Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
			When he lay couched in the ominous horse,
			Hath now this dread and black complexion smear’d
			With heraldry more dismal.  Head to foot
			Now is he drenched in red, horridly trick’d
			With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
			Bak’d and impasted with the parching streets,
			That lend a tyrannous and a damned light
			To their lord’s murder.  Roasted in wrath and fire, 			And thus o’ersized with coagulate gore,
			With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
			Old grandsire Priam seeks.
				(speaks normally)
			So proceed you.


TROY.  Hamlet is Pyrrhus.  Player 1 is Priam.  Pyrrhus approaches an INNER ROOM IN THE PALACE silhouetted by flames.  Note: these flashback scenes are not quite M.O.S., they have reduced sound.

					POLONIUS (V.O.)
			‘Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent
			and good discretion.

					PLAYER 1 (V.O.)
			Anon he finds him.

Priam backs away and drops his sword.

					PLAYER 1 (V.O.)
			Striking too short at Greeks.  His antique sword,
			Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
			Repugnant to command.  Unequal match’d,
			Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide;
			But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
			Th’ unnerved father falls.  Then senseless Ilium,
			Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
			Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
			Takes prisoner Pyrrhus’s ear.  For lo, his sword,
			Which was declining on the milky head
			Of reverend Priam, seem’d i’th’air to stick;
			So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,
			And like a neutral to his will and matter,
			Did nothing.



					PLAYER 1 (V.O.)
			But as we often see amid some storm,
			A silence in the heavens, the rack standing still,
			The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
			As hush as death,...anon the dreadful thunder
			Doth rend the region; so after Pyrrhus’s pause
			Aroused vengeance sets him new awork
			And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall
			On Mars’s armour, forg’d for proof eterne,
			With less remorse than Pyrrhus’s bleeding sword
			Now falls on Priam.

Pyrrhus strikes at Priam.


Player 1 is cowering before Hamlet.

			This is too long.

Hamlet goes over to Polonius and tugs at his beard.

				(to Polonius)
			It shall be to the barbers with your beard.
				(to Player 1)
			Prithee say on.  He’s for a jig or a tale of 
			bawdry, or he sleeps.  Say on.  Come to 

					PLAYER 1
			But who -- ah woe! -- had seen...


TROY. Gertruda is Hecuba, but with raven hair.  She is fleeing inside the palace; her shift is torn, and she is clutching a blanket around her.


					PLAYER 1
			                     ...the mobbled queen --

			‘The mobbled queen.’

					NARRATOR (V.O.)

			That’s good.


					PLAYER 1 (V.O.)
			The mobbled queen 
			Run up and down, threat’ning the flames
			With bisson rheum...
					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Blinding tears.

					PLAYER 1 (V.O.)
			                ...a shroud upon that head
			Where late the diadem stood, and, for a robe,
			About her lank, and all o’erteemed loins
			A blanket, in th’alarm of fear caught up --
			Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep’d,
			‘Gainst Fortunes’ state would treason have pronounc’d.
			But if the gods themselves did see her then,
			When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
			In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs,

Hecuba arrives just in time to see Pyrrhus strike her husband down.

					PLAYER 1 (V.O.)
			The instant burst of clamour that she made,
			Unless things mortal move them not at all,
			Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
			And passion of the gods.

Hecuba screams, and covers her eyes with her hands.

					POLONIUS (V.O.)
			Look we’er he has not turned his colour and has
			tears in’s eyes.  Prithee, no more.


Player 1 has the same posture as did Hecuba.

‘Tis well.  I’ll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.

He goes to Player 1 and comforts him by touching him lightly on the arm.  His mood is softened, even to Polonius.

				(continuing; to Polonius)
			Good my lord, will you see the players well

Polonius moves to shepherd the players off -- to the stables.

				(continuing; turning back)
			Do you hear, let them be well used, for
			they are the abstract and brief chronicles of
			the time.  After your death you were better have
			a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

			My lord, I will use them according to their deserts.

			God’s bodkin, man, much better.  Use every man
			according to his desert, and who shall scape 
			whipping?  Use them after your own honour and 
			dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is 
			in your bounty.  Take them in.

He indicates the castle.  Polonius turns around and leads them toward the castle reluctantly, looking at them as if they were pigs.

			Come, sirs.

			Follow him, friends.  We’ll hear a play
				(to Player 1)
			Dost thou hear me, old friend?
				(more softly)
			Can you play The Murder of Gonzago?

					PLAYER 1
			Ay, my lord.

			We’ll ha’it tomorrow night.  You could for
			a need study a speech of some dozen or
			sixteen lines, which I would set down and
			insert in’t, could you not?

					PLAYER 1
			Ay, my lord.

			Very well.
			Follow that lord, and look you, mock him not.

Polonius and the players go inside the castle.

				(continuing; to Rosencrantz
				 and Guildenstern)
			My good friends, I’ll leave you till night.
They move to embrace him, but he shakes their hands instead.

			You are welcome to Elsinore.

			Good my lord.

					HAMLET (V.O.)
			Ay, so, God buy you.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern also exit into the castle.


Hamlet is walking along, looking out over the sea, and then back to us.

				(aside/to himself)
			Now I am alone.
			O what a rogue and peasant slave am I.
			Is it not monstrous that this player here,
			But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
			Could force his soul so to his own conceit
			That from her working all his visage wann’d,
			Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
			A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
			With forms to his conceit?  And all for nothing.
			For Hecuba.
			What’s Hecuba to him, or he to her,
			That he should weep for her?  And what would he do
			Had he the motive and the cue for passion
			That I have?  He would drown the stage with tears,
			And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
			Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
			Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
			The very faculties of eyes and ears.
			Yet I,
			A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
			Like a John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
			And can say nothing -- no, not for a king,
			Upon whose property and most dear life
			A damn’d defeat was made.

He walks awhile.

			Am I a coward?
			Who calls me ‘villain’, knocks me on a’head,
			Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face,
			Tweaks me by the nose, gives me the lie i’th’throat
			As deep as to the lungs -- who does me this?
			‘Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
			But I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall
			To make oppression bitter, or ere this
			I should ha’fatted all the region’s kites
			With this slave’s offal.

He draws his sword, and swings it around, as if he were fighting Claudius.

			Bloody, bawdy villian!
			Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!

He runs the imaginary Claudius through.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Now you’re talking.

			Why, what an ass am I!  This is most brave,
			That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,
			Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Well, I wouldn’t say that.

			Must like a whore unpack my heart with words
			And fall a-cursing like a very drab?

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			You’ve never heard a whore curse.

			A scullion!  Fie upon’t!  Foh!

He reaches the upper platform, where the Ghost has been observed.  He looks out over the beautiful scene.  The breathing of the Narrator is heard faintly.

			About, my brains.  Humph.
			I have heard
			That guilty creatures sitting at a play
			Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
			Been struck so to the soul that forthwith
			They have proclaimed their malefactions.
			For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
			With most miraculous organ.  
			I’ll have these players
			Play something like the murder of my father
			Before mine uncle.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)

			I’ll observe his looks;
			I’ll tent him to the quick.  If a do blench,
			I know my course.

He looks all around, into the evening sky.  The Narrator breathes more quickly and more shallowly.

			The spirit that I have seen
			May be a devil, and the devil hath power
			T’assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps,
			Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
			As he is very potent with such spirits,
			Abuses me to damn me.
				(pause; waves to the sky 
				 with sword)
			I’ll have grounds 
			More relative than this.  The play’s the thing
			Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.

Exit Hamlet.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Oh, yes.

										FADE OUT.

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