7 Jul 2019

Ophelia Reimagined

From Standing Room Only, 1:33 pm on 7 July 2019

Photo: Provided

Ophelia becomes a dramatic heroine rather than a tragic victim in film director Claire McCarthy's re-interpretation of the young woman doomed to die in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Lynn got to talk to Claire and see the film. There have been gutsy portrayals of Ophelia in earlier films, notably by Helen Bonham Carter and Kate Winslet, but the directors and actors were limited by sticking pretty much to the Bard's original text.

Back in 1994  New Zealand playwright Jean Betts wrote Ophelia Thinks Harder that took a similar approach to Claire's - showing us the action through the eyes of a strong young woman who rails against injustice.

Shakespeare certainly loved his tragic women: Juliet, Desdemona. But none has become the source of love, reverence, popular art like Hamlet's paramour, Ophelia. Ophelia has been perceived as tragic victim, a love scorned, and now, in Claire McCarthy's emotionally resonant drama Ophelia she is a dramatic heroine. Played by Daisy Ridley, Ophelia is a reimagining of Hamlet, removing the play from the Prince of Denmark's hands and showing it through the eyes of a woman bound by circumstance yet uninhibited in spite of it all. The story is beautifully rendered and told with a strong sensitivity.