On this episode of Got Me A Movie, we go back to 1990 for acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard’s only directorial work: a film adaptation of his play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The film stars Tim Roth and Gary Oldman in the titular roles, two minor characters from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Richard Dreyfuss is the support, portraying The Player, leader of the group of traveling tragedians who perform for the King and Queen of Denmark. Much of the story takes place “in the wings” of Hamlet, a clever referential device where we see the events of Hamlet, but through the eyes of these two characters. There’s a lot of play-within-a-play-within-a-play-within-a play going on, which is utilized perfectly. Like, dude, this thing is so meta.
The play version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was written and first performed in the mid-sixties, a true example of Theatre of the Absurd. It’s similar in theme to Samuel Beckett’s existentialist drama “Waiting for Godot,” with the majority of those themes being perception of self, life’s purpose, and personal choice and freedom — all of which we discuss more of in this episode. The film is very similar, yet feels a bit different (as with any adaptation, really). We talk about the pros and cons of both, and discuss briefly different adaptations of Hamlet as well. So, although this isn’t technically a double feature, we hope you’ll enjoy it just as much. As always, thanks for listening!
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