20 thoughts on “Shakespeare’s Women Run the Story in Ophelia (2018)

  1. I thing being a pre-Raphaelite fantasy works for this story, personally. It’s a loose retelling of Hamlet, which was a loose retelling of a Scandinavian legend that probably had very little historical truth to begin with, so it’s definitely Fantasy Medieval Denmark rather than anything that’s supposed to reflect actual history. And I think it makes sense for the costumes to reflect that.

  2. I love this movie. The jewelry and headdresses remind me of the Byzantine mosaics of Justinian and Theodora. Too early for the middle ages, but pretty! And the soundtrack is excellent.

    1. This! This s a lot like Glenn Close’s Gertrude’s regal habiliment in the Mel Gibson Hamlet. Very Byzantine, and not all ‘Nordic’ not that I have any idea what a Danish queen would wear in the Middle Ages.

  3. Damn it! I want every single one of those dresses! I am a sucker for the Pre-Raphaelite look.

  4. I was vaguely aware of this movie, but was non-plussed about it until this post. I definitely plan to check this out. So, thanks! In college the theater department did a one-act festival and one of the plays was The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines (or something like that), your summary of this movie seems to be along the same lines. Really, everything looks lovely in these pictures except for that unfortunate wig on Clive Owens’s head. Also, Daisy Ridley does not convince as a redhead.

    1. I am also a lover of all things Pre-Raphaelite and I missed this but will definitely try to see it

  5. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but I don’t mind offering the contrary opinion: I thought it was terrible. A juvenile reworking, with prosaic on-the-nose writing that talks down to the audience. Like The King it ventures to ask, “What if you like Shakespeare’s stories but hate good writing?” Very by-the-numbers filmmaking in terms of film language. A ripe Clive Owen in a bad wig, whose Claudius wears his villainy on his sleeve (because nuance is for suckers!), Naomi Watts not leaving an impression despite being handed more material, and Daisy Ridley whose screen charisma has somehow already evaporated. Odd because I think she’s great in the new Star Wars. I think George MacKay might have been a fine Hamlet in another production.

    The twists you could see coming a mile away. “Don’t look at the witch’s face.” Why not? You bloody well know why, we’ve all seen Sleepy Hollow (1999).

    I’m all for revisionist takes and love the Pre-Raphaelites. Credit where it’s due, at least it’s colorful in contrast to most modern Medieval films.

    Honest opinion: if you want a Hamlet reworking/update done well: absolutely skip this. Probably skip Hamlet Goes Business (1987) – the good bits aren’t enough to recommend the entire film. See Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) and The Bad Sleep Well (1960). Accept no substitutes.

  6. I loved the YA book like Lisa Klein and I was so excited to hear it was getting an adaptation. Lisa Klein has a PhD in Renaissance English poetry and she did extensive research to add so much Renaissance courtly details to create fit an interesting story into the existing parameters of Hamlet. I was deeply disappointed by this movie. The aesthetic was gorgeous but none of the nuance of the original story was there.

  7. See now THIS works perfectly! The fact that they choose a style and aesthetic to base the costuming around, stuck to it, and being clear on what they’re emulating while not being entirely accurate work but still beautiful and pleasing to the eyes is perfect. This is the type of artistic liberty I love.

  8. I watched the movie and had the constant feeling that the movie should have said it straight up that its more a “fix-it” fanfiction rather than a “my story” perspective it said on the trailer. Would have been easy to digest some of those cheesy twists honestly ( not gonna spoil ) . It works better as Hamlet inspo fantasy more than anything and Ridley ‘s acting beside the monologue is atrociously dull ( watch it for Naomi Watts and the guy playing Hamlet. He tried his best considering the story wants to sabotage all the compelling male characters to make Female ones look better. Which seems more like an insult than a compliment if you ask me )
    I do agree though, costume wise it was amazing. I finally felt like i am watching a well and good European medieval inspired story and people must have enjoyed colors and decorations like we do, not mucking about it dirt like GoT or Knightfall did ( honestly since i read asoiaf books, i know this is what Martin wanted his story to look like not the dark lighting dirt fest). The only disagreement on how “you cannot feel the budget” would be on hair. You can tell Ophelia’s hair is unnatural red wig and a bad one at that in SEVERAL scenes. It really does take you out from the story for sec .

  9. My goodness, at the back of the pic of Ophelia going mad is what looks like a chap holding a theorbo – a sixteenth-century instrument that’s like a giant lute with extra strings. That’s cool – wonder if anyone actually plays it??

  10. This looks lovely. The costuming isn’t in any way historical, but because it’s totally coherent and internally-consistent, it convinces. (D*mn it, why can so many English-speaking costume designers and directors not get this principle, when the Italians have known it and been demonstrating it for literally generations?) In this respect it reminds me a bit of Janty Yates’ costuming of Kingdom of Heaven: Yates said openly that she hadn’t worked from real 12th-century dress but from images of 19th-century French medievalism, specifically the Salle des Croisades at Versailles. And because she was consistent with that – and also because that’s the origin of the kind of illustrations of the Middle Ages we all grew up with in picture books – it’s convincing to the eye, even if your head knows different.

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