Movie Review 2007 #32: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is based on the existential eponymous play it is based upon.


R&G are Dead tells the story, loosely, of the two minor characters from Hamlet, with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth playing the title characters. Among other conceits in the movie is a question of identity, as in which of two is which. Richard Dreyfuss heads a group of Players that the duo meet on their journey to Elsinore, and their fateful encounter with Hamlet and the rest of the play.
The movie is not the easiest thing to get into, being much in line with, say, Tristan Shandy. The movie begins with the characters debating what a series of same-result coin tosses means in the greater scheme of things. The movie spends its time with such things, as the inevitable and unavoidable doom of the characters (unbeknownst to the characters) slowly unwinds. The “Game of Questions” for example.
The movie definitely has the feel of a movie based on a play, and that is not entirely a good thing. Although I have neither seen the play performed, nor have read it, I got the feeling, while watching the movie, that the material is better displayed in that medium, rather than a film. It’s not a bad film, but I think that film is not the best way to enjoy the R&S experience. Theaterphiles, of course, should and will love this movie.