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Hamlet/Horatio - Film Review

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

★★★

Directed by: #PaulWarner

Written by: #DavidVando

 
Poster for Hamlet/Horatio

HAMLET/HORATIO celebrates the power of love to transcend corruption and evil driven by Horatio's mission to keep Hamlet's spirit alive, even after death.


Shakespeare lovers; seek out Hamlet/Horatio. The tragic tale is spun from its original text and flipped to a new perspective from the eyes of Horatio, Hamlet’s closest friend. Love flows through the words penned by Shakespeare, adapted to a new form of storytelling with David Vando’s script and Paul Warner’s direction.


Hamlet/Horatio opens with an empty sound stage focusing on the death of Hamlet. Horatio is a film director who aims to fulfil a promise he made to a dying Hamlet in telling the story of his life. A fairly gripping story if you’re accustomed to the writings of the famous playwright; his words charming in its traditional format. His influence on the English language is impressive; his sharp vocabulary played a huge part in a changing world. Though it must be noted, if you’re unfamiliar with his work as I am, Hamlet/Horatio will not be enjoyable.


It is no surprise to find that a film telling one of the most notable stories in history (even with its subtle twist in execution) is not quite the gripping watch you’d hope for without the required research into Shakespeare’s background and subsequent impact on society. If you’re a newbie (there’s no shame in that), this will not be to your liking, unless you’re incredibly open-minded. That said, it is a splendid staging of work that has been performed many a time over the centuries. Warner’s direction ensures Hamlet/Horatio is captured like a stage play; simple blocking and raw performances with minimal locations, relying heavily on the words to provoke the audience. It’s clear that Wenzel and Vando’s passion project is one of careful caution; this is a culmination of a 20-year collaboration and it certainly feels it.


Hamlet/Horatio features some fantastic performances from Andrew Burdette and Themo Melikidze, playing Hamlet and Horatio respectively. Though the words can be very overwhelming and difficult to bear, the duo’s willingness to shine gives the film its needed pull. A tale of love, evil and corruption; the language used doesn’t stilt the entertainment too much for people “uncultured” in Shakespeare, as the physical presentation from the actors provides enough story in and of itself. And the staging is pretty stunning in all its simplicity, but as someone who really isn’t well-versed in the subject, it’s still a struggle to brush through.

Warner, Vando and Wenzel have created a new version of a classic play and as aforementioned, it will surely be entertaining to those who seek it out. There is a beauty in their craft and the actors bring forth a traditional vibe in the performances, but if unfamiliar, this is quite a slog.


Watch the trailer for Hamlet/Horatio below.



 

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