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Monday, 20 October 2014

Man Delights Me Not

Gary Oldman and Tim Roth as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
"I have of late - but wherefore I know not-lost all my mirth
forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, 
the Earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to 
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, 
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights me not: no, nor woman neither, though, by your smiling you seem to say so."

This is Hamlet describing his melancholy to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Of course, William Shakespeare had a genius gift with words but he also had great psychological insight into the human mind. Although I read these words quite often they take on a whole other perspective when heard spoken by great actors. I have selected some You Tube examples of how the speech comes alive and a final special treat!.

1) Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet
2) Iain Glen as Hamlet in 'Rosencrantz and Guidenstern Are Dead'
3) David Tennant as Hamlet
And finally a wonderful sung version from the musical 'Hair'
4) What a Piece of Work is Man


Dixie@dcrelief said...

Hi Bazza. This is one fascinating piece of work! Always has been - always will be.
1-2) I'd never seen Kenneth Branagh or Ian Glen in the role until your provided clips. Each one so different - each one interjects their own life. I've heard that's the way to play the role. And it makes complete sense as I find I too put myself in Hamlet's shoes - the issues, I think, will always be current.
3) Ironically I watched a BBC special with David Tennant on Shakespeare's "Hamlet"... so when I read your post I went back and re-watched it. (It's also on YouTube.)
4) I saw the movie "Hair" - thanks, your link is special, as the song was cut along with many others, from those of the original play - which in turn really changed up the focus. To me the movie was a mess.
As a side note - I'm not too happy with mankind right now.

David said...

Hi bazza,
I was lucky enough to see Daniel Day Lewis perform this speech at the National Theatre, but I can still appreciate the other interpretations.
I think, also, that I once mentioned to a mental health nurse that "Hamlet" could be studied as an examination of someone in the throes of a reactive depression.
All that said, I think that often Shakespeare's words can lose some of their power through simple over familiarity, like an over-played song, but when one actually reads them closely, you're reminded of what makes them so great.
So, thanks for the reminder, bazza.
Best Wishes,

bazza said...

Hi Dixie. The movie of Hair was disappointing but the stage show was sensational. I had the Broadway cast recording as well as the London cast recording because there were some songs unique to each album.
David Tennant is very watchable and versatile actor.
I'm sorry mankind has upset you. Do you mean specifically mankind?

bazza said...

Hello David. I'm sure you are correct about the effects of over-familiarity. That's why hearing new interpretations is endlessly fascinating.
Shakespeare was way ahead of his time with his mental insights. I think Macbeth also shows this - the vision of the dagger was a clear psychotic episode!

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Maybe I should say, humankind, at least some of the ones over here. Too much news, and half the time you can't verify what's true. And way too many distractions from things most important. My rant is over. "Alas, poor America, I knew it well."
Really like your profile photo.

bazza said...

"It was a land of infinite jest."
That's me with Lois, aged 6 going on 30!

joanne fox said...

Some years ago I saw a wonderful production of Hamlet at Tutbury Castle (Staffs.) We had to take our own chairs, and I don't think there were any famous names among the cast, but the setting made it quite marvellous. The ghost kept popping up on top of the castle walls, everyone died as dusk slowly fell, and we huddled under our blankets to keep out the chill. Fab!

bazza said...

Hi Joanne. I love that kind of thing. We saw an open-air Midsummers Nights Dream this spring in the pouring rain in our local park. We had a great time....and we didn't have to take chairs!

John said...

Hi Bazza,
I am afraid that 'Man delights me not' at the moment, but I suspect that I have a different thought process than dear old Bill!
Been to a few Shakespeare plays back in the day whilst studying English Literature, Othello is my favourite, with Iago being a fantastic character!

bazza said...

Hi John. There are so many wonderful characters in Shakespeare that it's hard to have a favourite! I tend to think whichever one I'm seeing must be the best. Hamlet has a lot of good lines.
Iago is the archetypal villain I think - what a piece of work!

klahanie said...

Greetings old chap,

You might vaguely remember me.

I love me a bit of Hamlet, my esteemed, cultured friend. I also remember that collaboration with Willie Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss titled, "Green Eggs and Hamlet."

Toodle pip and nice to visit you after all this time.


loverofwords said...

Just the tone of voice can change everything. Thank you for reminding us of this genius with words.

bazza said...

Gary: Yes your name rings a bell somewhere in the far distance....
It's good to have you in the Blogosphere again!

bazza said...

Natasha: Thanks for looking in. Nice to hear from you again!

loverofwords said...

And, I am copying the "Restaurant" painting--love the colors. May not be able to work on it soon, as I am having a knee replaced on Wednesday. I feel like the bionic woman, but looking forward to feeling better. So, there will be gaps in my posts. But, I love hearing from you.

bazza said...

Hi Natasha. I hope that op goes well for you. I have a few friends who have had similar ops recently and, in every case, they have been delighted with the results! You'll be skateboarding again before you know it!

Sherry Ellis said...

I only had to read one line to know it was Shakespeare! He certainly was a genius with words.

bazza said...

Hi Sherry. He certainly was and this piece shows how any way that you present the words they capture your attention.

All Consuming said...

Posting a picture of Gary Oldman looking rather dashing gets high points on the scoring panel from me for a start hahaha, and tis from a favourite film of mine also, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead., it's been far too long since I watched it, you have reminded me to dig it out again Barry. Great clips too, all of them, each actor brings something quite different to the table with Shakespeare. A most enjoyable post all in all, you are awarded four gold stars sir *presents them to him.

bazza said...

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is not only a wonderful film but such a clever idea as well. I love it. I'm a bit of a Shakespeare addict and can't resist any of his plays in any media. The last one I saw was an open-air production of A Midsummer Nights Dream in our local park. It poured with rain throughout but was hugely enjoyable under our umbrellas!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Hi Bazza,

I am so sorry that I have not commented on your post this past week but I have been having an unpleasant time with the new downloads of iOS on my old iPAD. It not only slows everything down but it does not allow me to do or see what once was easy to access. It seems that now I have to invest in a new tablet or suffer anxiety.

Kenneth Branagh will always be my favorite Shakesperean actor, even though the others were brilliant also.

bazza said...

Hi Arleen. I'm sorry to learn of your technical problems but you certainly don't need to apologise for not commenting!
It's always good to hear from you but visit whenever you want - no pressure :-)

Bob said...

freudian slip at end of Hamlet's speech?

instead of 'say so' you wrote 'so so'

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were 'so and sos' but I'm still troubled by the calculating way Hamlet eventually extracts revenge on them......(perhaps Shakespeare is suggesting that Hamlet is not the polar opposite of Claudius but, at least in some ways, similar).

bazza said...

BOB: Doh! I've edited that error now. Funny how no-one else mentioned it! I still love that piece of writing.