Shakespeare 400 - Hamlet Goes Business

(Hamlet liikemaailmassa)

Part of Shakespeare 400 On Screen, presented in association with the University of Ottawa

Shakespeare 400 logo by Sarah TuefeeWith his trademark mix of absurdity, dark humour, and biting satire, Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki brings Hamlet into 20th-century Helsinki and turns it into an indictment of late capitalism by way of a film noir comedy.

Poster art for Hamlet Goes BusinessThe basic elements of Shakespeare’s plot (and some of the original dialogue) are still here, but blended with modern updates on its return trip to Scandinavia: Hamlet’s uncle has killed his brother and married his sister-in-law to gain control of the family ‘kingdom’, a paper company, which he wants to diversify in order to corner the market in rubber ducks. Dithering and detached Hamlet, with the help of the chauffeur (actually a trade union spy), pursues revenge.

This hard-boiled take is absurdly comic in its emotionally understated, ironic twists on perhaps Shakespeare’s best-known work.

– Joerg Esleben, University of Ottawa

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