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Prithee be aware, dear reader, of the "Humiliation" game:
Described in a tome by David Lodge,
The players (honoured natives of Academe all)
Reveal to their fellows the famed lit'ry works they've left unread.
One professor of English Lit proclaims that he's cracked Hamlet not,
Thus dooming his tenure bid.

Well, Hamlet had I also avoided,
In all my eight-and-fifty years,
Never once had I read the play,
Nor watched a performance on stage, television, or film;
Nay, not even perused the comic book.

So, bad on me.

Yet, 'tis oft I have considered this
To be a gaping hole in my cultural literacy.
For even now, over four centuries hither,
Doth not Hamlet allusions continue to crop up
From place to place, and time to time?
Even just the quotes: like
"A custom more honour'd in the breach than the observance",
And "to thine own self be true",
And "goodnight, sweet prince",
And "here's looking at you, kid".
Be unaware of the source of these, and
Risk being taken for a knave or a fool.

And this version definitive seems:
The four-hour-plus effort from Kenneth Branagh,
Who adapted the screenplay, directed, and stars.
And if you looking for acting talent are,
This flick has that out the wazoo:
Derek Jacobi as doomed Claudius,
Julie Chistie as doomed Gertrude,
Kate Winslet as doomed Ophelia.
Most notable was a role for Charleton Heston,
As the Player King. Which will make you say:
"Yikes, we shall not see his like again soon,
And that 'tis indeed our loss."

Aunt May herself, Rosemary Harris,
Plays opposite Chuck as the Player Queen.
Robin Williams and Billy Crystal are also here
And will remind you of that Twainish saying
Concerning the singing dog:
'Tis marvelous not that they do it well,
'Tis marvelous that they do it at all.

Overall, Pun Salad dost commend to you this movie.
Bill's power and pull undiminished be.
But be ye warned: 'tis not an easy go,
And (remember said I: over four hours) neither is it short.
There are times you will, like your humble blogger,
Note that entire swaths of dialog have passed you by,
Like the billowing sails of a speedy ancient galleon,
Leaving you only to wonder: "What the heck did he mean by that?"
The play is full of nuance, allusion, and symbols deep.
Or so have I been assured o'er the years.
So just hang on and grab what you can,
And, should a Trebekian scoundrel ask anon,
Who to a nunnery was encouraged,
Thou canst say for certain:
'Twas that chick from Titanic.

Last Modified 2012-10-07 8:03 AM EST