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Comments about the soundtrack for Hamlet (Patrick Doyle)

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National tragedy
• Posted by: Marc
• Date: Saturday, December 31, 2005, at 10:49 p.m.
• IP Address:

Almost nobody who has reviewed this score recognizes that one of the major themes Branagh was trying to convey (which he had done in previous stage productions and also this film one) is that Hamlet's tragedy is also a national tragedy for Denmark, not just the fall of a prince or a family but the fall of a kingdom (which is very close to tragedy the way Shakespeare understood it). And in that sense, Doyle's score functions beautifully, but perhaps more utilitarian than people might expect. People hated the major mode in this score, but if you look at "In Pace" as the Danish national anthem, and all the other pomp and circumstance nature of this score, the choice becomes less mysterious. It's not my favorite Doyle score, but I actually like the fact he hit the play often from an angle that people weren't expecting. (If you want a really disastrous, disjointed chaotic score, see FRANKENSTEIN)

In any case, HAMLET is Shakespeare's most disjointed *play*... it may have a towering reputation, but it is very problematic, nobody really knows what it's all about or what it means, and it's been called a "rat's nest" of ambiguity. Why anyone should expect the score to be all things to all people, when nobody can really agree on a generic interpretation of the play, I don't know. The interpretation is up to the director (and Branagh has made it clear in interviews that he told Doyle exactly what to do here).

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