A bizarre black-and-white film noir reworking of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. After the death of his father, young Hamlet inherits a seat on the board of a company controlled by his uncle that ...
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A bizarre black-and-white film noir reworking of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. After the death of his father, young Hamlet inherits a seat on the board of a company controlled by his uncle that decides to move into the rubber duck market. But Hamlet is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding his father's death...Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
The script was written in a very loose form and according to Aki Kaurismäki he only read Hamlet on the very week he wrote the script just a couple of weeks before filming. See more »
How are you, Hamlet?
Alright, thank God.
Do you know me?
Sure, You are the butcher.
No, I'm not.
I wish you were.
It would make you more respectable. Only one man in 10,000 is respectable and even he's nothing much to boast about.
For if the sun breeds maggots in a dead bitch it's worth the carrion to kiss it. You got a daughter?
[...] See more »
Shakespeare's classic play adapted as an utterly deadpan comedy in the business world of 20th-century Finland
Released in 1987 and therefore a fairly early effort by Aki Kaurismäki, HAMLET LIIKEMAAILMASSA ("Hamlet Goes Business") is the Finnish auteur's idiosyncratic adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play. Kaurismäki sets the drama in the corporate world of 20th-century Finland: a business magnate (Pentti Auer) is murdered by his wife Gertrud (Elina Salo) and brother Klaus (Esko Salminen) so that they can marry and take over the group of companies. The deceased's son Hamlet (Pirkka-Pekka Petelius), depicted here as something of a dim-witted manchild, discovers the dark secret of his murder and moves towards revenge. At the same time, he maintains a curious love affair with Ofelia (Kati Outinen), daughter of a high-ranking employee, and also scrapes with other characters drawn ultimately from Shakespeare's play.
All of the main scenes from Shakespeare's play are present here, though sometimes (like the murder of Polonius) they don't make much sense in the context of the adaptation and are shown briefly to simply telegraph them. The dialogue is mainly original, though at times it switches into the traditional Finnish translation of Shakespeare's Elizabethan English to deliberately bizarre effect. There is however a laugh-out-loud twist ending going beyond the Shakespearean source material, which turns the film into a commentary on Finnish politics and labor relations.
All of Kaurismäki's films are dark comedies, though with humor so deadpan it is sometimes easy for an audience to miss it entirely. Riffing on the image of the Finnish people as taciturn and emotionless, Kaurismäki's actors are directed to state their lines in a very dry, robotic fashion. The death of Ophelia, a tragedy for the ages, is depicted here in a humorous way entirely due to Kati Outinen's deft facial expression and an unusual prop I won't spoil here. Kaurismäki's love of early rock 'n' roll and blues is present in all of his movies, and you can also expect to see a jukebox kicked into life here and a band performing on stage at some point.
While I am a fan of Kaurismäki and have seen nearly all of his many films, I don't think this is one of his major efforts. The black and white photography is a weak point. Kaurismäki loves utterly drab scenery and it is a big part of his aesthetic, but paradoxically color is necessary to bring this drabness across. It also feels like this is just one more adaptation of Hamlet, even if it's an unusual one, and none of the characters are as readily likable as in Kaurismäki's own original work. Most audiences will find his preceding effort VARJOJA PARATIISISSA (Shadows in Paradise) or his following film ARIEL to be more charming and visually seductive.
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