Wednesday, March 23, 2005

a conspiracy of cartographers

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead finally came out on DVD today, 15 years after its original release. One of Tom Stoppard's best screenplays, which is really saying something given his other works: Brazil, Empire of the Sun, Shakespeare in Love, and Enigma.

I never understood Shakespeare until after I'd read Stoppard - iambic pentameter? Wha? Is it contagious? The first two times I watched Rosencrantz & Guildenstern I fell asleep... but watching it again after reading the screenplay, it became one of my favorite films.

Rosencrantz: Shouldn't we be doing something... constructive?
Guildenstern: What did you have in mind? A short, blunt human pyramid?

Tim Roth and Gary Oldman were already two of my favorite actors - Roth had recently been in 'Vincent & Theo' and 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover', while Oldman had made a damn fine Sid Vicious a few years before. Roth still had 'Reservoir Dogs', 'Pulp Fiction', 'Four Rooms', and 'Rob Roy' ahead of him; Oldman's 'Leon' and 'Immortal Beloved' were impressive too. Iain Glen, who played Hamlet, had just done an incredible job as John Hanning Speke in 'Mountains of the Moon'.

I can't help but wonder if R&G would have made more of an impact if Sean Connery had retained the role of The Player - he bailed on the film when he was offered 'The Hunt for Red October', and Richard Dreyfuss was chosen to replace him. Pshaw. On the one hand you've got James Bond and The Man Who Would Be King, and on the other you've got Devil's Tower made out of mashed potatoes... Dreyfuss did a fine job, but it would have been a totally different film with Connery.