Hamlet/Horatio is an ambitious film rich in artistry and creativity. The film aims to tell the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet through the perspective of Horatio. In the original play, Horatio is Hamlet’s most supportive friend. While Horatio is supportive, he is ultimately a minor character in the grand scope of the play.
Directed by Paul Warner and written by David Vando, Hamlet/Horatio attempts to bring something new to the pantheon of Hamlet adaptations. This film takes a unique approach and fills in some interesting blanks in the play, yet Horatio remains a side character and is not much different from the traditional remake. Traditionalists can enjoy this film, while someone looking for something different can appreciate the deeper analysis in which Horatio/Hamlet ventures.
The film begins with Horatio (Themo Melikidaze) in the role of the director as he sets up the scene and gets the characters in place. He greets Hamlet (Andrew Burdette) they embrace, and the screen shatters. This instantly implies that the film will be unlike its predecessors. Warner’s direction is inventive. The scenes feature a ghostly and dreamy ambience that complements the frailty of Hamlet’s character. David Vando is featured as a ghostlike cinematographer among the film crew, which one could appreciate on a multitude of levels. Is this ghostlike cinematographer the presence of Shakespeare?
Vando’s interpretation is interesting. Horatio is elevated to more than support, he is more active in a savior role. Horatio interferes in Hamlet’s self-destruction and intervenes in his pain. Hamlet is a multi- layered play where so much happens off the stage and is left to interpretation. Vando looks at the complicated character of Ophelia and her family structure. There are issues and themes that are somewhat alluded to in the play and Vando explores them.
Melikidaze and Burdette give very powerful performances. However, this brings me back to my original observation that while this adaptation is supposed to be from Horatio’s gaze, it does so very sparingly leaving the audience wanting more Horatio and more of Melikidaze’s screen time.
Hamlet/Horatio updates the story for today’s sensibilities, and adds more to supporting characters. The direction and writing are imaginative and the performances are strong.
Hamlet/Horatio will be available on VOD June 1st.
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