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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 8 February 1991 (USA)
Two minor characters from the play 'Hamlet' stumble around unaware of their scripted lives and unable to deviate from them.


Tom Stoppard


Tom Stoppard
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Oldman ... Rosencrantz
Tim Roth ... Guildenstern
Richard Dreyfuss ... The Player
Livio Badurina Livio Badurina ... Tragedian
Tomislav Maretic Tomislav Maretic ... Tragedian
Mare Mlacnik Mare Mlacnik ... Tragedian
Serge Soric Serge Soric ... Tragedian (as Srdjan Soric)
Mladen Vasary Mladen Vasary ... Tragedian
Zeljko Vukmirica Zeljko Vukmirica ... Tragedian
Branko Zavrsan Branko Zavrsan ... Tragedian
Joanna Roth ... Ophelia
Iain Glen ... Hamlet
Donald Sumpter ... Claudius
Joanna Miles ... Gertrude
Ljubo Zecevic Ljubo Zecevic ... Osric

Gary Oldman Through the Years

Take a look back at Gary Oldman's movie career in photos.

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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? Written by Mark Thompson <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Originally, the two leads (who appropriately spend the movie mixing up their own names) were cast the other way around. See more »


Throughout the movie there are scenes where day suddenly changes to night and vice versa. This is a running gag of Tom Stoppard plays which often have "time jumps" written into the stage directions. See more »


[first lines]
[Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are riding horses down a path - they pause]
Rosencrantz: [to Guildenstern] Umm, uh...
[Guildenstern rides away, and Rosencrantz follows. Rosencrantz spots a gold coin on the ground]
Rosencrantz: [to horse] Whoa - whoa, whoa.
[Gets off horse and starts flipping the coin]
Rosencrantz: Hmmm. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads.
[Guildenstern grabs the coin, checks both sides, then tosses it back to Rosencrantz]
Rosencrantz: ...
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Referenced in The Virgin Suicides (1999) See more »


Performed by Pink Floyd
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User Reviews

Fabulously underrated and unappreciated film
4 June 2002 | by destronjinSee all my reviews

This film is one of the most glorious and intriguing examples of modern cinematic art I have ever encountered. I am not going to run you through the entire movie, as that has been done several times on here already, but I would like to clear up a few misunderstandings and harsh words that I have read in previous comments.

First and foremost, I have not seen or read the play (although I am looking forward to it) and I was perfectly able to understand all of the so-called "high-brow" concepts like fate, time, freewill, self-awareness, and the light peppering of existential musings (my favorite of which is the "...well at least I'm not dead." speech). The first time I watched this film I was very fascinated, amused, and slightly confused. These Pythoneon nonsensical scenes that some of you are reffering to were a bit difficult to understand, but after a second viewing they all made perfect sense. It does not take a genius to see the multiple layers and metaphors being used in this film. As for being totally lost without first seeing the play, that is rediculous. It took a bit of thinking and rewinding, but it is comprehensible, and after you figure it all out for yourself it is very rewarding and adds to the enjoyment, and genius, of the film. For example, the first time i watched this movie I was very confused by the pages of manuscript randomly floating around after R&G encounter the players for the first time. But once you realize that the lead player is fully self-aware, has been through these scenarios (the play "Hamlet") several times with a full consciousness and memory of the events (demonstrated rather obviously by his full knowledge of future events, the play that his troupe rehearses in front of R&G wich is an exact copy of "Hamlet", etc.) it makes for a wonderful metaphor demonstrating what has happened to the original play (Hamlet) now that some of its more flat characters are starting to think outside the script, so to speak, and become a bit more round.

Well, I could go on forever about this masterpiece, and maybe I will at a later date, but for now I just wanted you know that this film is anything but simple. If you can manage to put a little thought into what you are seeing and hearing you will find that it is perhaps the most complex, multi-layered, intuitively rewarding film ever created.

P.S. I am afraid this film is not widely accessible to the majority of movie watchers, which really saddens me because it is truly an amazing work of art. I would very much like to remedy this. So, if you have watched this movie at least 2 times, and are still puzzled by some of the scenes, please feel free to email me and I would be happy to explain anything that might heighten your understanding of the film.

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Release Date:

8 February 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead See more »

Filming Locations:

Slovenia See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,004, 10 February 1991

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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