March : Kenneth Branagh and the Importance of Fortinbras–What you Focus on (part two)

To read part 1 of this post, click HERE

It almost makes Hamlet look silly. All his important internal struggle and angst, all his indecision, all the intrigues—how important everything within the palace seemed, to him and to everyone else involved. But all the time, they had no idea. They were focused on the wrong thing. The audience is left wondering—if they had shifted their focus and put aside internal grievances to make Denmark strong, what would have happened? If they had faced the actual, bigger threat of Fortinbras’ army instead of being distracted by internal turmoil, what would have happened?

Fortinbras marching into Denmark, already laid waste for him by its own occupants

Not to say the murder of Hamlet’s father and the grief and betrayal therein isn’t legitimate–but I also think survival is legitimate. That’s the problem with the trees you get distracted by–they’re all legitimate, but at what cost?

You can imagine what a viewing experience this was. My entire idea of this play was turned upside-down; the obsessive Fortinbras shots I at first thought strange and unnecessary, I soon realized were an insightful interpretation. That perhaps the inclusion and role of Fortinbras is not a plot convenience or odd loose end—perhaps it is a very subtle placement by the Bard, a very subtle point for his readers. 

It is one of the tragic flaws of we, as a human species, to focus on the wrong things. We focus on the small bad in our lives instead of the huge good. We focus on internal concerns in a family, organization, or even country, at the peril of being a strong and successful whole and facing often greater external threats. We miss the forest for the trees.

Perhaps Hamlet’s tragic flaw is not, as many say, indecision. Perhaps he, and his entire country, were putting their energy towards the wrong things—self-destructive quests that destroyed everything around them. 

What do you, oh reader, think about all of this?

~Phlox

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