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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Showing events from the point of view of two minor characters from Hamlet, men who have no control over their destiny, this film examines fate and asks if we can ever really know what's going on? Are answers as important as the questions? Will Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (or Guildenstern and Rosencrantz) manage to discover the source of Hamlet's malaise as requested by the new king? Will the mysterious players who are strolling around the castle reveal the secrets they evidently know? And whose serve is it?

  • Guildenstern, observant, sharp-witted and gifted for word-puns, and his mate Rosencranz, slower and often caught in words, even switching their own names, make a long journey on horseback, contemplating fate, memory and language while their flipping of coins produces heads invariably for over a hundred times. Then they meet a traveling theater troop, which offers for a few coins to let them watch a play, participate as guest actor or in a 'private rape enactment'. Then the magic of the theater transports them to the grand palace Elsinor, where the hospitable Danish royal couple kindly asks them to stay a while and help find out and hopefully cure the gloomy, confused state of prince Hamlet, whose Shakespearian drama the court is living trough, yet the title heroes remain largely occupied with the futile hazards of daily life. Soon the very same theater troop arrives to play at court, as part of the Bard's tragedy, whose leader simultaneously forbids them to stop watching their real play on the road which can't exist without a audience and explains some of the plot and logic of conventional rules of plot-staging and -writing, till their own real fate is settled...

  • They're dead! They're totalities. Like "Hamlet," they are finished books. So there's no more chance, and being dead is different from being alive. It's taking them some getting used to eternity, where they can only re-live what they have experienced in time.

  • Two minor characters from the play 'Hamlet' stumble around unaware of their scripted lives and unable to deviate from them.


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