18 November 2007 | juzuxinxiang
Review: Prince of the Himalayas -- by Bob Elis
Sherwood Hu's remarkable Hamlet, Prince of the Himalayas, better even than Kosintsev's Renaissance-court version and at least as good as Throne of Blood, here at last a Hamlet that makes emotional sense of the plot and the back story. Ophelia drowns pregnant, Claudius is Hamlet's biological father and Hamlet Senior was about to kill the adulterous Gertrude when the timely ear-drop regicide saved her, and now, a riled and baleful ghost, he whispers big lies to the dithering prince who dares not slay Claudius for fear of the truth of his genesis. It shows us with force and ardour what, in an ancient, galloping, tribal, horn-hatted society of bellicose chieftains and drawn broadswords, Usurpation and Regicide mean, and Royalty too, by God.
And all this, amazingly, is achieved with a bare five hundred words of Shakespeare's text but many looks, nuances, flashbacks, nightmares, faces in mist, and mountainside Eisenstein compositions that give you, in subtext, the great words back. No better film of the Bard exists I fear, having racked my brains and searched my emptying memory, not Welles's, Olivier's, Polanski's, Kurosawa's, Branagh's, Brooks's, Wright's, Hall's, Reinhardt's, though Kosintsev's Lear is in the league and Mankiewicz's Julius Caesar, curiously (Brando, Gielgud, Mason, Garson, Kerr, Pate, the harsh, electrifying Louis Calhern), on a fortieth viewing still in the outer ballpark. This young man Sherwood Hu (whose name sounds like a novel by Charles Kingsley), an American Samoan Chinese based in both Beijing and Frisco, is already as good as the greatest cinema deities -- Eisenstein, Bergman, Bresson, Fellini.