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January 22, 1991 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-01-22

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ARTS
Tuesday, January 22, 1991

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

O' what a weary life is this

Hamlet
dir. Franco Zeffirelli
by Gregg Flaxman
he thought of Mel Gibson, the
Australian-raised actor best known
fpr his roles as a post-apocalyptic ac-
tidn hero and a suicidal cop, playing
Shakespeare's Danish Prince Hamlet
has probably been the cause of some
bewilderment to audiences and critics
alike. After all, Britain's actor-ex-
tradinaire Lawrence Olivier first
brought the role to the screen, and
Joseph Papp has always reserved the
role for the talented Kevin Kline.
But director Franco Zeffirelli's cast-
ing of Gibson is not only a stroke of
genius, but the greatest triumph of
his latest film.
Olivier's Hamlet was brooding to
the point of pouting. He delivered
his soliloquies as voice-overs and his
cerebral quality came across as flac-
cidity in the face of a throne usurped
*and a mother tainted. And Kline's
Hamlet, though flippant, never
communicated the figure of pain,
madness and vitality that Zeffirelli
apparently desired. Amid the opaque
outlines of the vast Danish castle,
Gibson's Hamlet roves and cavorts
and throws himself furiously into a
struggle with his Uncle Claudius,

the new king, and his own acute
conscience. It is a performance of
strength and depth and a wholly cin-
ematic reinterpretation of a role that
had been relegated to impotence.
Gibson trounces about Elsinore
from stark exteriors into shafts of
white light, contemplating his fate
yet never entirely yielding to it. Im-
pelled by the ghost of his father,
played with a uniquely human edge
by Paul Scofield, Hamlet wavers be-
tween retaking his throne and de-
scending into madness and loss. His
determination, however, is tempered
as much by his own indecision as by
his mother's rejuvenation.
Glenn Close's Gertrude is
seemingly fulfilled for the first time
in her life with the brutish Claudius
(Alan Bates). And Gretrude's overtly
Oedipal relationship with Hamlet
conspires to wreak havoc on the
young prince. There is an undeniable
sense that this son wishes to see his
mother actually happy, and any de-
sign on the throne jeopardizes
Gertrude's vivified persona. But
Scofield's ghost is eminently com-
pelling, and Hamlet is unable to
deny his fate.
Zeffirelli's film never fails to
capitalize on Gibson's physical abil-
ities as an actor. Visceral and alive,
Hamlet, while pondering his cosmic
insignificance, tosses himself into a
deadly contest for his rightful title.

In a fierce and incredibly
choreographed battle, Hamlet and
Laertes engage in a duel in which
Hamlet's will is tested by a master
swordsman bent for revenge. Before
the king and queen, the two clash as
perhaps in no previous production.
Like Zeffirelli's other adaptions
of Romeo and Juliet and The
Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet is
successfully translated to the screen
and to our age. Zeffirelli's
production is a lean and entirely
cinematic adaption of the play, sliced
from five hours to under three. The
supporting actors are exceptional,
but Close, whose casting would
seem inspired, often fails to
communicate the intense relation-
ship with Hamlet which the film re-
quires. She's too young for the role,
and though this illuminates the sex-
ual relationship between the two, it
remains unconvincing and odd.
Helena Bonham-Carter is an espe-
cially intriguing and novel Ophelia,
her madness an apt mirror to
Hamlet's own faltering sanity.
Nevertheless, Hamlet is worth see-
ing if only for Gibson, whose manic
and personable prince represents one
of the year's great performances.

A pissed-off Hamlet (Mel Gibson) clutches his long, pointed sword after finding out that Ma and Uncle Claudius
are "doing the nasty."

HAMLET is
Showcase.

being shown

at

.Let

's

dance naked on the Diag

by Kim Yaged

"Lay down your funky weapons!
Coime join us on the floori Making
love and music/ are the only things
worth fighting for/ We are the new
power generation/ We want to
change the world/ The only thing
that's in our way is you! your old
fashion music, your old ideas! we're
sick and tired of you telling us what
to do."
Prince, "New Power Generation"
Sure, part of me snickers when
our University deputizes our security
guards just as our country enters
war, consequently creating the ideal
setting for Kent State Part II. But
this is probably mnere coincidence,
and it is not entirely the point any-
way. What's important is that it is
our job to prevent a recurrence of
this sort of event. If we cannot yet
directly influence the actions of our
government, we can influence their
perceptions of the youth and how
our actions will be recorded in his-
tory - a record which hopefully
will not remember us as promoters
of empty slogans or facilitators of
scurrilous actions. It is critical that
we do not attempt to categorize all
the players into groups of either
simply "evil" or "good." Although
there are those who have a more
ample share of the former than the
latter, there is no clear-cut "right" or
"wrong."
I understand that some people
fear that others will be apathetic and
fail to act upon the occurring events.
But that is unlikely and a poor ex-
cuse to forge unyieldingly into a
full-force rekindling of Vietnam-es-
que protest. A haphazard manifesta-
tion of strength is not strength at all.
John G. Stoessinger wrote in Why
Nations Go to War::"Of all the cru-
elties that people have inflicted on
one another, the most terrible has
always been brought by the weak
against the weak."
A N ARU 5i1&2
5TH AVE AT LIBERTY 761~970
DAILY $2 75 SHOWS BEFORE 6PM 3
& ALL DAY TUESDAY ('EXCEPTIONS
r ~ ar nnr nIITVTATSIN

In this vein, I think that demand-
ing a "walk out" on classes at the
University seems illogical. It would
be like Israel blindly retaliating
against Iraq immediately after the
initial attack made on them. As
many analysts and leaders said, Is-
rael's restraint was not a sign of
weakness but a demonstration of
strength. We too should not resort to
"weak" choices.
I would not condemn.anyone for
his or her decision to boycott
classes, but I question those who
propose to prevent others from
making their own decisions as well.
That is the mode of thinking of the
previous generations. They are the
generations of people who do their
crossword puzzles in ink so that
even if they try to correct their mis-
takes, the right answer is still illegi-
ble. It is imperative that we do not
resort to these techniques - the
techniques of those whom we our-
selves rebuke.
This leads to my quandary as a
student music writer. As I repeatedly
analyze and contemplate the current
situation in the Middle East, I ques-
tion whether or not it matters that the
latest long-haired band has played
one power chord too many.

I marvel at the irony of the situa-
tion. As some took vows of silence
in acknowledgment of the January
15th deadline for Iraq to withdraw
from Kuwait, others took obligatory
partial silences as required by their
fraternities. On the diag, banners
promoting campus social events
wave over the anti-war mural and
other displays constructed as com-
mentaries on the war. Flyers detail-
ing the next rally, march or vigil are
posted beside those advertising the
latest band to hit town. I am not
condemning these things; it is just
that the paradox of them is over-
whelming. Yet I understand that
both are necessary. Their existence
serves more as an answer than a
source of question. It is an indication
that we must deal with our lives in-
stead of avoiding them.
On the one hand, there is this fear
that we will-continue with our rou-
tine "business as usual." But there is
also an overpowering feeling of req-
uisite commitment to contribute all
of one's time to the cause, in order
to prevent the development of apa-
thy. It seems unfair to demand this
of ourselves. We must not be disre-
spectful of those who are suffering,
See STATE, Page 7

New Kids on the
Block
"Games"~
The New Kids were originally
created by Maurice Starr to be the
white New Edition, but by watching
their new video for "Games," they
are beginning to look more like the
white Bell Biv DeVoe, who wanted
to shed their "Candy Girl" image to
record songs like "Do Me." As for
these "five bad brothers from the
Beantown land," as the song an-
nounces, it appears that they are try-
ing to toughen their image by danc-
ing with scantily clad females who
look a little older and sleazier than
the average New Kids fan. The Kids
are also dressed in more of a street
fashion than their previously favored
neo-Miami Vice outfits.
The highlight of "Games," if you
can call it that, is the metamorpho-
sis of Donnie Wahlberg (thankfully,
he spells his name for us in his rap)
from a New Kid to a Vanilla Ice. He
looks completely ridiculous wearing
one of those ugly metal-plate-across-

the-front black baseball caps, which
is covered by the hood of his sweat-
shirt as he walks among a "gang"
whose members make Donnie look
rather pale. I think Dennis Miller de-
scribes him the best by saying that
Donnie is "the brooding New Kid,
trying to show he's a motorcycle
guy in a moped band." Foregoing
the silly dance steps he is used to
performing, Donnie instead struts
around the set of the video with his
hand down near his crotch, trying to
show exactly how tough he hangs.
What exactly are they trying to
prove? The majority of their fans
have been pre-teen girls whose par-
ents have encouraged their daughters'
support of the Kids' nice-guy im-
ages. Now they might appear threat-
ening to both nine-year-old girls and
their parental figures who spend
quality time watching Dial MTV.
The Kids' new appearance might be
a bold step for them, but it might
also be self-destructive. Proof of this
is that their past videos instantly
shot to #1, while "Games" mostly
hung out near the middle of the

survey before reaching the coveted
top spot. The boys do, however, get
a few chances to subliminally
reinforce their nice values, as in the
scene when Jordan approaches q
young lady, not to make a romantic
move, but to be a gentleman and
extinguish her cigarette.
Nevertheless, as the boys' voices
change and as Donnie becomes more
volatile, their image is definitely go,
ing to be different by their next re-
lease. If they plan to continue their
success, their fans are going to have
to age along with them. The only
other thing they can do is ditch Star
and start hanging out with Jimmy
Jam and Terry Lewis to make the
transition to a more adult sound as
successfully as the New EditigtI
guys did. Then again, as the chorus
of "Games" declares, putting them
down won't get me nowhere because
they're positive, and no matter what
I say they don't really care. They arc
not going to let themselves go away
too easily.

-Andrew J.

Cahn

U

Academy of American Poets
Bain-Swiggett Poetry Prize
Michael R. Gutterman Poetry Award
Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship
will be announced Tuesday, January 22
3:30 p.m., Rackham Auditorium

OK, WHO'S THE COMEDIAN?

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