“Shakespeare in the Extreme”: Ghosts and Remediation in Alexander Fodor’s Hamlet

  • Maurizio Calbi
Part of the Reproducing Shakespeare: New Studies in Adaptation and Appropriation book series (RESH)


Shot entirely in high-definition digital, premièred at the Cannes film festival and subsequently released in DVD format with a 12-page booklet and extra material, Alexander Fodor’s experimental low-budget adaptation of Hamlet (2006) blatantly presents itself as some kind of “Shakespeare in the extreme.”1 And, indeed, Fodor’s film contains many elements that could be classified as “extreme” when compared to Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Polonius becomes Polonia (Lydia Piechowiak), a scheming femme fatale who would not be out of place in a film noir, and goes as far as to seduce a Reynaldo-turned-Reynalda with luscious cherries and red wine; Ophelia (Tallulah Sheffield) is a drug addict who relies on her elder sister Polonia for her drug supply; Horatio (Katie Reddin-Clancy) switches gender; Laertes (Jason Wing) is a vicious Cockney thug; the Ghost (James Frail) is omnipresent. Yet, if by “extreme” one means a drastic distance from Shakespeare’s language, Fodor’s version can hardly be said to be so radical: it does not alter the lines from the play it keeps, except when it needs to meet the changes it introduces in terms of gender and kinship. (For instance, Polonia is referred to by Ophelia and Laertes as “sister.”) This chapter explores the double-edged notion of “Shakespeare in the extreme” in Fodor’s film. It argues that this is a strategy of remediation that predominantly insists on the “out-of-jointedness” of time and space, and that it articulates itself as a process that frequently evokes ghosts, including, as the film performs a series of self-allegorizing moves, the ghost of the “original” and, more generally, the ghost of a (Shakespearean) textual corpus that refuses to stay put.


Tape Recorder Traumatic Memory Audio Track Funerary Rite Citational Environment 
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© Maurizio Calbi 2013

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  • Maurizio Calbi

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