Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

After ripping it to my ipod for train watching, I have finally finished Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard.  Starring Gary Oldman as Rosencrantz, or possibly Guildenstern, and Tim Roth as Guildenstern, or possibly Rosencrantz. First and foremost, the acting from the two leads is just off the charts amazing.  The whole essence of the role is that these two characters are just literally dropped into a play in progress, and have no idea where they came from or why they are there (other than “We were sent for” which they cling to for dear life).  The nature of the pair, so similar that they’re not even quite sure who is who, is fascinating, even in the little details like watching them walk down stairs in a sort of unintended synchronous march. There are moments of laugh out loud humor (mostly from poor Rosencrantz, who at times seems an Elizabethan Einstein, when no one is looking), and moments of quiet existential philosophy that would make Hamlet himself say “Huh, never thought of that.” Most of all it is the acting that carries the day.  Richard Dreyfuss wanders through the play as leader of the Players, trying to point out the nature of “tragedy” to ill-fated R & G, who never quite seem to get what he’s telling them….not that it would matter if they did, which is sort of the whole point. I thought it was great.  Glad I finally watched it.  Highly recommended.

5 thoughts on “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

  1. Stoppard (responsible for the witty script of Shakespeare in Love by the way) directed it himself and added all sorts of lovely bits – best for me was the paper plane joke!

  2. I know I’m some kind of freak of nature, but I didn’t really care for the filmed version. Love the play. Something about the live theatre really makes it work for me in a way it just doesn’t on the screen. Maybe it’s the interplay with the audience; maybe it’s the way it really seems like _Hamlet_ is going on just on the other side of the curtain.

  3. Perhaps I’m just a huge Gary Oldman fan? Has he ever done a bad movie? I think the star power makes the movie a bit unbalanced – you don’t really care about the Hamlet, because it’s not a particularly memorable one.

    Never seen the play. Read the script once upon a time, remember it being a bit over my head at the time. I suppose the play would be more balanced because all the characters are relatively equal in status, it’s not like you’ve got Oldman and Roth stealing all the spotlight.

  4. this movie caused me to constantly confuse oldman and roth for years after.

    recently done at a local college, this is one of my favorite stoppard plays.

    glad you enjoyed it.

  5. I love this movie. And the play. I saw a production last year that was pretty interesting, but it’s hard to compare when I love the movie so much.

    The story and dialogue are very clever, Stoppard is a genius.

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