Posted on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 by Adam Quigley
Did we really need another film rendition of Hamlet? Probably not, but I’d be lying if I said Emile Hirch and Catherine Hardwicke‘s “suspense thriller” take on the material didn’t intrigue me at least a little, if only to see how it’d turn out. Alas, looks like we’ll never know. For reasons that haven’t yet been made clear, the project is no more.
The Playlist reports the news, noting that the picture fell apart and will most likely not be made. But what was the cause? Did director Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, Twilight) and the producers have trouble working out a way to make the play “exciting and accessible for an audience today”, or was the film simply too much of a financial risk?
Last year, Hardwicke sounded confident that Haml3t would come together, happily elaborating on the conceptual structure of it with MTV:
It’s a modern-day film, set at a liberal-arts college where words matter — so people are careful and talk in beautiful language, and Hamlet tries to express himself through music. So, we’re using some of the cooler Shakespeare language, in a musical way. [My Hamlet] is like an [aspiring] rock star. He’s got six people that go to his performances, go to clubs and listen to him. It’s like an early Kurt Cobain.
Emile Hirsch, who came up with the idea, said they were hoping to shoot in Boston in the fall, but that prospect obviously never came to pass. On the casting, he had this to say:
We want to lower the ages of everyone in the cast, make it much younger and see how that affects the story. Most of the ‘Hamlet’ [interpretations] onscreen are with much older casts, so we wanted to make everybody in college, set it at a college, make it really dark and gear it more towards young adults and young people and teenagers.
That was the plan, anyway.
Perhaps it’s for the best. Within the last 20 years, we’ve already seen Hamlet adapted for the screen three times, first with Mel Gibson and Glenn Close, then with Kenneth Branagh as both star and director, and most recently with Ethan Hawke—the latter of which was in itself a modern day reimagining of the classic play. It isn’t the only one, either. Shakespeare’s work has been updated for all sorts of modern settings: The Taming of the Shrew was adapted into 10 Things I Hate About You, Othello into O, Twelfth Night into She’s the Man, Macbeth into Scotland, Pa, and of course Romeo and Juliet into Romeo + Juliet. Hirsch’s idea, while not without potential, is nothing new. It might’ve been an interesting curiosity, but does anybody feel like we’re really missing anything by not seeing it?