According to Variety, Mark Thomas of Elsinore Films is bringing musical versions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays to the big screen with the intention of “targeting the High School Musical and Harry Potter market.”
The first version to be produced is a 3-D musical version of Hamlet to be directed by John Godber and executive produced by Michael Cowan. Hamlet marks ths first film in the series that will eventually include Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest.
This is the second announcement of a dumbed down version of Hamlet to be released within the next few years. I wrote about my annoyance with the other version earlier this year and this Shakespeare 4 Kids version just adds fuel to the fire. I can appreciate the desire to make Shakespeare more accessible for younger audiences, but a 3-D musical version is just going too far in my book. Does the “High School Musical audience” deserve Shakespeare?
I hold plays like Hamlet on a very high pedestal and I am highly critical of any attempt to re-create the Bard’s work. I’m not a purist, like some people that I know, and I believe that some of the best versions of Hamlet have challenged the perception of the play as we know it (the 2000 version with Ethan Hawke for instance). The issue with these versions is that I’m afraid they are going to become immensely popular. Do you want to hear teens belting out tunes from a Hamlet musical?
I remember in high school I skipped reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and instead rented the movie. How long is it before teens are skipping out on their reading assignments to watch these versions of Hamlet? Will the next generation lose touch with Shakespeare?
I think that this announcement reinforces Roger Ebert’s thesis about the youth of today, but it is also an example of studios dumbing down material for general audiences. What do you think about Hamlet the 3-D movie musical?