To believe, or not to believe: that is the question

4 Apr

My most read post so far seems to be ‘Blood of the innocent’. This proves what ‘The Player’ says in ‘Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead‘:

The Player: We’re more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can’t give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They’re all blood, you see.

Guildenstern: Is that what people want?

To this the Player replies “It’s what we do”; in my case, I must say, my readers only want blood and gore.

Now that I brought up this wonderful movie, let me give you three reasons why you should watch this movie – Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and Richard Dreyfuss. And all you ‘Game of Thrones’ fans – go see Ser Jorah when he was young and hamlety. But the movie is Tim and Gary – I am still not sure who plays Rosencrantz and who Guildenstern. I looked it up at imdb – but then I realized, the whole point of the play/movie is the confusion. Perhaps, when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, he meant these two characters to be more than “they came, they said two words and they died”. But in the version of Hamlet that got published and that we all know today, they were not just minor, but such minute characters, that makes you wonder, were they necessary to the plot?

One man, though, did not just stop at wondering why these cameo roles are placed in a plot so serious as to make Denmark’s tourism suffer till date, but went on to write a brilliant play based on these two hapless fellows, who come and go with as much importance as a plastic potted plant in a dentist’s office. Tom Stoppard’s genius ends not just in writing the play and adapting it for a full-length movie, what makes the movie so eminently watchable is the cast – picture-perfect cast.

I first saw Tim Roth in ‘Rob Roy‘. He was evil and I did not like that film much – it felt like ‘Braveheart returns’ (though I am unsure which came first, I saw Rob Roy after Braveheart). But the first time I took notice of Tim Roth was when I watched ‘Pulp Fiction’ – he was memorable and his British accent was adorable, especially when he is oh-so-casually talking about knocking off liquor stores.

Gary Oldman, I saw for the first time in ‘Air Force One’ – where the President of America, single-handedly beats up hundreds of Russian thugs and outwits everyone of those poor chaps. I mean Russians probably did not get to watch many American movies in the 80s, even then, if Harrison Ford is the President, then I, as terrorist, would just wait another 4 years for change of rule and then kidnap the First Family. You just don’t mess with Harrison Ford man, you just don’t – its like the unspoken rule in Hollywood. You just keep away or you pay the casting director to give you the good guy roles. Anyway, coming back to Gary Oldman, he was a very convincing bad guy.

So it was a mild shock to see these two guys together in a movie, playing clueless victims. I had not read the play, so I went through half of the movie wondering where this is all leading, if they will suddenly turn villainous and start robbing stagecoaches, when Enter ‘The Player’ – Richard Dreyfuss.

My first encounter with Richard Dreyfuss was ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus‘. I am an Indian, so overacting and sentimental drama is our daily bread. Even then, ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’ was a bit difficult for me. I did not hate the movie or anything but it was somehow too cough-syrupy for me – bitter and put me to sleep. This was before I saw ‘Jaws’ and then I thought, hey, any scientist that would go to study an obviously killer Great White must have been badly disappointed with life. Then I saw ‘Rosencrantz….’ and I was overwhelmed. He delivered his lines with such personality that he became my favourite character in the movie. (As an honorary mention, I also liked him in ‘What about Bob’).

Coming back to the blood and rhetoric dialogue, when I first saw the scene where the troupe put up all their plays in seconds in the middle of a road in the dark, I was awe-struck. That, right there, was what you call willing suspension of disbelief. It is ludicrous in this computer-animation era but imagine the dreams plays must have portrayed in the 14th century. A time with no electricity or plumbing and yet ever ready to improvise.

This is what the Player says about us the audience:-

Player King: Audiences know what they expect and that is all they are prepared to believe in

Do you want to know what I believe? I believe in everything these actors show me, at least for a while, till the credits roll and the lights come on.

-The End-


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