I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 2 May 2016

More - fervent - bardolatry

Why would one consider Hamlet in Russian? Pared down from a maximum 4 hr 15 min to 2 hr 20 min? With English subtitles (translated by Boris Pasternak - remember him?) arriving so thick and quick one hardly has time to watch the action. Starting at 23.00 BST.

VR and I had one flimsy reason. We dimly remember the movie got good UK reviews when launched in 1964. Also we're both committed to watching any and all Hamlets as they crop up.

It happened last night on BBC 4, the channel those wretched Tories want to close down. Reluctance was gone in five minutes. We were silent and riveted. This Hamlet is in my Top Five whatever the language. Here's to director Grigori Kozintsev.

I know, I know. If you've got this far you've got questions. Russian translated into English? For what reason? Didn't WS write Hamlet in English? I'll get to that.

Envisage Hamlet set by a raging sea. In a huge castle that justifies the Prince's wandering. Scenes as inventive as any in Citizen Kane (The Ghost’s long cloak streaming like a dragon's tail). A Hamlet who, while being cruel to Ophelia, evokes an earlier tenderer version of himself. Hamlet, dying, stumbling from the blood-boltered fencing scene out into daylight, where Fortinbras's final judgement ("For he was likely, had he been put on, To have prov'd most royally...") becomes more poignant, makes more sense. A Gertrude whose incestuousness may have had other outlets. Music by Shostakovich.

And those subtitles? Many speeches have been cut but what remains is rendered in Russian poetry. Which Pasternak then renders in - sort of - English poetry. Vandalism? Ah, no. If you care for WS or poems in a foreign tongue please see it. This is true Hamlet, I promise.


  1. Tempting, but will Netflix have it? I will have a look see.

  2. Ordered. Netflix promises a "long wait".

  3. MikeM: All of a sudden the responsibilities of being a "recommender" weigh heavily on me. I go back, thinking over the scenes, thinking about the guy who played Hamlet (a top-mega actor in the USSR then), trying to remember the "sound" of the lines spoken in Russian and how I reacted. Did I exaggerate? Have I allowed for the fact that you and I have had (quite legitimately) differing opinions about certain movies in the past. For this, after all, is the true test of criticism in the old sense of the word: honesty and motive. Now standing somewhat shakily, I believe, I think, I estimate to the best of my abilities I told the truth. But then there's "jesting Pilate" isn't there? And it's also a test of friendship. But then all art is subjective and we must take risks. Good luck - to both of us.

  4. Good cinematography and Shosta. Rest easy. I'll be in bed clothes with "stop" and "eject" buttons inches away, as usual. Not a big investment risk. Netflix glowingly backs your review and recommendation. These "long waits" can run to years though. One never knows.

  5. Oh wow ... Pasternak! I'm in!

  6. MikeM: In that contraction of bliss you describe I feel almost compelled to add a mug of cocoa. I hate the stuff and most Americans (I think) seem to prefer mugs of what they call chocolate. Are they the same thing? "Bed clothes" I also note, taking the phrase to be euphemistic. No rugged upstate New Yorker admits to wearing anything so effete as PJs. Anyway I'm glad I haven't - so far - overdone things. Ideally the performance should make itself felt at the height of Fall.

    RW (zS): It may be Pasternak but the English is frequently very odd, not exactly echt poetry. Fun nevertheless.

  7. So it's on Netflix. Good. Sounds wonderful. So we shall see if your subsequent post is correct or not!

    Is MikeM an upstate New Yorker? (My husband is a different Mike M, and from the North Country of New York, where it shoves up into Canada. Brrrr.) I don't think we usually say "bed clothes," do we? As a Southerner in the upstate, I have been known to wear long johns and fleece pajamas (which are really outdoor clothes but warmer and like pjs) and even to add a very heavy fleece long coat (which is a simple coat without buttons, but I use it for a bathrobe) when especially miserable. I'll never make a proper Yankee.

    Hot chocolate is definitely necessary up North. I detest the little packet sort of cocoa, but a real homemade pot of hot chocolate is good in the winter.

  8. My ancestors referred to sheets, blankets, and "bedspreads" (the top layer) as bedclothes, but I have not carried on that tradition. I do not own pajamas that have matching tops and bottoms. I wear custom ensembles- sweatpants with tee shirts mostly, long-johns under on very cold nights, cotton boxers in the summer unless it's really hot. I live in Cassandra's old hometown, where we make hot chocolate. There are many variations, the best a combination of cocoa, butter,sugar and whole milk. Nestle's Quik in milk was more common when I was young, now the most common is a wretched mix of packaged dry milk and chocolate mixed with hot water.

  9. Marly/MikeM: This is what's called playing host. I provide the location, ensure comfortable seating, serve up carefully calculated drink (starting with champagne or G&T since both metabolise quickly and encourage talk), issue a vaguish subject and watch well-chosen guests do what guests are supposed to do. Briefly I resemble an entrepreneur showbusinessman but quite quickly guests who understand their obligation are out there running and I'm out there listening - to new stuff: Marly in long johns, MikeM being contemptuous about "a wretched mix". My job is done, I can die happy (the South's talking to the North) and - here's the point - no one's pointing a finger at perfidious Albion. Thank you both.

  10. I expect what I need is a good, old-fashioned "bed rug" like the Puritans brought over... I do remember "bed clothes" but not, I think, from real life. From books. Or maybe I have just forgotten.