Ophelia, directed by Claire McCarthy, is scheduled to hit movie screens in these United States Friday, 28 June 2019. Starring Daisy Ridley in the title role, the McCarthy directed production is a retelling of William Shakespeare’s classic play The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark told from Ophelia’s perspective.
The McCarthy film saw its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival Monday, 22 Jan. 2018. David Edelstein, a film critic with Vulture, wrote, “Daisy Ridley’s Ophelia Is a Juicy, Crowd-Pleasing Shakespeare Revamp.” Is David correct? The only way to determine if David is correct is to watch the film.
What’s the Film about?
Ophelia, a motherless child, is as rebellious as it gets for Shakespearean characters. During her informative years, the young Ophelia becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Gertrude of Denmark.
Ophelia quickly becomes one of the queen’s most trusted ladies-in-waiting. Because of her interactions with Denmark’s royals, Ophelia quickly captures Prince Hamlet’s affections. Consequently, a secret romance ensues between the two. The romance plays out to the backdrop of palace intrigue, political infighting and a potential war with the neighbouring King Fortinbras of Norway.
The death of Old Hamlet hits the prince hard, so much so, Hamlet’s wits seem to unravel into insanity and an unquenchable quest for vengeance. Ophelia tries vigorously to navigate the rules of power in Denmark as she struggles to choose between her one true love and a life of her own.
Is There a Trailer?
Who is in the Film?
In addition to Ridley playing Ophelia, the other principal characters, Gertrude / Mechtild, Claudius, Hamlet, Laertes, Horatio and Polonius, are respectively played by Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, George MacKay, Tom Felton, Devon Terrell and Dominic Mafham. Playing young Ophelia, Hamlet, Laertes and Mechtild is Mia Quiney, Jack Cunningham-Nuttall, Calum O’Rourke and Anna Rust, respectively.
What About the Original?
The play, a turn of the seventeenth century creation, has seen numerous reprints. Several historians and scholars have made the suggestion Shakespeare penned the title role with the thespian Richard Burbage in mind.
The play, in five acts, has seen many television and film adaptations. The Laurence Olivier directed Hamlet, winner of the 1948 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, is arguably one of the finest adaptations ever produced. Consequently, because of the prominence of the production, the Olivier film is the benchmark to emulate. Despite this point, Kenneth Branagh unabridged 1996 offering, regardless of it being 242 minutes long, is an intriguing interpretation of the play in its entirety.
McCarthy’s offering is not the first film to retell Shakespeare’s play from a different perspective. In 1990, Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard refocused the story so that it could be told from the perspective of two minor characters. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, written and directed by Stoppard, refocuses the story onto Hamlet’s school friends.
Ridley will be playing a significantly different Ophelia to the one we saw Joanna Roth playing in the Stoppard production, that much is certain. Whether Shakespeare aficionados will appreciate the new take on this classic play remains to be seen.
“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king,” Hamlet said as he intends to prove Claudius’ guilt. Will we still see Hamlet prove Claudius’ guilt? Does the ghost make an appearance? Will Rosencrantz and Guildenstern betray Hamlet to his uncle? Will Polonius find the pointy end of Hamlet’s sword? Does Fortinbras invade Denmark? Does the director address these questions in her film?
“Flawed yet intriguing, Ophelia uses Hamlet as the starting point for a noble attempt to offer a misunderstood character long-overdue agency,” is the critics consensus at Rotten Tomatoes. Regardless of this viewpoint, you should seriously determine for yourselves whether you want to see the production. Personal taste does not necessarily revolve around a critics consensus. It’s your money, your time and your choice that matters.
In the comments section, please tell us if you feel this is a film for you and why. Please tell us which Shakespeare adaptations most accurately resembles the source material.