Ophelia is, for many young female Shakespeare fans, the patron saint of sad girls everyone. She’s the tragic female lead who fell in love with Hamlet, but was cruelly mistreated by him and emotionally broken down until she ultimately takes her own life. In the movie Ophelia, which features Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley, we get to see the story of Hamlet from her perspective, giving more humanity to the young woman in the story.
Directed by Claire McCarthy and starring Ridley as Ophelia, Naomi Watts as Gertrude, Clive Owen as Claudius, George MacKay as Hamlet, and Tom Felton as Laertes. The movie envisions Ophelia as a rebellious and motherless child who is taken in by Queen Gertrude and slowly gains the affections of Hamlet, before the murder of King Hamlet causes his son to go down a paranoid and destructive spiral that leaves everyone in his wake worse. Including himself.
The movie itself looks beautiful, and I’m interested in seeing Daisy Ridley in a non-Star Wars role (I didn’t watch Murder on the Orient Express, sorry-not-sorry). As someone who enjoys these alternative narrative stories, I think that Ophelia is the perfect character to get this sort of treatment because she is, in theory, privy to so much information as the story unfolds, but due to her tragic end, she leaves the story too soon. There is so much art of Ophelia at her end, but very little about the life she lived or even the possibility of her having a purpose outside of Hamlet, so I’m glad for her to (in a sense) be giving her own truth.
While a trailer did initially come out for this back in 2018, the rollout for it has been slow. It’ll be coming out June 28th, 2019, and our own Rachel Leishman had the opportunity to see a screening of the movie. She praised it for its costuming and Ridley’s performance in particular.
“The costumes in the film are absolutely beautiful, taking on the Danish feel of the 15th century in a way that feels whimsical and brings the mystery of Ophelia to life that is only increased by Daisy Ridley’s excellent performance. From the small smiles to her quippy remarks to her fellow ladies as well as Hamlet, Ridley’s Ophelia brings a modern feel to the film even though it is set back in the late middle ages.”
I’m hoping that more female directors will choose to go into exploring the women of Shakespeare’s works, because there is so much to be done, and I think the elements of Shakespeare that worked in his time continue to work now.
Who would you love to see be the subject of a Shakespeare film? My top pick would be Cordelia from King Lear, who I think is one of his most unsung badass ladies. Considering she is banished for most of the play and comes back with an army, I think there is a story just waiting to be told there.
(image: IFC Films)
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