21 September 2008

The armor of a dead man

From director Jim Sheridan’s forward to In America: A Portrait of the Film:
When I was doing my own story, I thought a lot about Bloom and his dead son, and the resonance throughout Ulysses, of Shakespeare, and of Hamlet in particular. And when I wondered if it was right to do such a personal story and cannibalize my own life, I remembered that the great Shakespeare had a child called Hamnet and that three years after his son’s death, he took out an old play and rewrote it.

And not only did he rewrite it, he went in the lonely isolation of backstage, he put on the armor of a dead man, and he clunked out on stage as the ghost of Hamlet’s father. That idea has always struck me as profound. A live man in dead man’s clothes talking to his dead son, alive, in front of him, on stage and asking for revenge. Shakespeare must have been tough, I thought, to keep the deep baritone of the ghost intact.

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