Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead 1990
Director: Tom Stoppard
- Based on book: No, well, Hamlet and Stoppard’s stage play.
- Cast: Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanna Roth, Iain Glen, Donald Sumptner, Joanna Miles
- Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
- Gary Oldman – Harry Potter, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Léon, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Bok of Eli, The Dark Knight, The Scarlet Letter, Immortal Beloved, Romeo Is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, Nil by Mouth (director)
- Tim Roth – Dark Water, The Beautiful Country, To Kill a King, Planet of the Apes, Gridlock’d, Pulp Fiction, Rob Roy
- Richard Dreyfuss – Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, American Graffiti, What About Bob, Postcards from the Edge, The Good-bye Girl
- Joanna Roth (evidently not related to Tim Roth) – Sliding Doors, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
- Iain Glen – Downton Abbey, Tara Road, Kingdom of Heaven
- Donald Sumptner – Wallander, Merlin, Rose and Maloney, The Constant Gardener, Cold Lazarus, Richard III, Antony and Cleopatra
- Why bought: Hamlet, Gary Oldman, Tim Roth
- Seen: Several times. The first time before our Shakespeare days. Now: January 27, 2013.
It was probably the first time I saw this movie that Gary Oldman and Tim Roth entered my list of favorite actors right up there at the top. This was sometime before Hal and I were into Shakespeare and we really had no clue, only vaguely realizing after awhile that this movie was about Hamlet. It didn’t matter. The movie was simply very, very funny and played to perfection by Oldman and Roth.
Some things have changed. We’ve read Hamlet twice, seen it a dozen times in various films and become quite thoroughly acquainted with the original. But one thing is the same. This is still one of my favorite movies and it gets better every time I see it.
These two characters are more or less anonymous in Hamlet in spite of their distinctive names. They play an important role but everybody mixes them up and they have approximately zero personality.
In the movie, they themselves don’t have a clue about what’s going on or who this Hamlet guy is, only that they were summoned by some king. They bumble around the castle, getting in people’s way, playing nonsense question games with each other – quite funny and clever actually – and quibble back and forth about this and that. Here, too, no one can tell them apart, including themselves. The Oldman character spends much of his time making profound scientific discoveries that the Roth character dismisses as stupid games. Only in reading the credits at the end do we see that Rosencrantz is the scientist and Guildenstern the scoffer.
And so they stumble off to the fateful boat trip.
It’s an ingenious movie. I love it.
10* of 10.
PS We just rewatched it - August 31, 2014 - with our friends KJG and JG. If anything, it's even better than last time!