The most beautiful movie you will watch on Netflix will awaken your emotions and touch your soul
Written by Lisa Klein, PhD in Literature from Indiana University, “Ophelia” revisits one of William Shakespeare’s most famous and possibly most complex works. But in his version, the narrative is led by the character Ofélia, who is transformed from a supporting role to a main character. With a film adaptation directed by Claire McCarthy, which hit the screen in 2018, the film seeks to portray one of literature’s most important tragic figures from a feminine, sharp, in-depth and sensitive perspective.
Whether seen from the perspective of Shakespeare, Franco Zeffirelli or Kenneth Branagh, Ophelia has always been an intense but inadequately constructed character. Klein suggested delving into the character’s history, emotions and motivations, and McCarthy decided to translate that to the screen. With the help of cinematographer Denson Baker, he brought the picturesque, pre-Raphaelite and vivid tones that allowed the film’s construction to become something beautiful, refreshing and less gloomy than previous representations of Hamlet.
Ofélia is played by Daisy Ridley, who manages to translate her spontaneous, free and authentic personality into her character. She arrives at Helsingør Castle as a young girl, rebellious and outspoken. An orphan of a mother, she is accepted as a lady by Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts), who has her as her protégé. Prince Hamlet (George MacKay) spends most of his life away from school. In the few moments he is at court, he is attracted to Ofélia. After the death of the king (Nathaniel Parker) and his mother’s marriage to his brother-in-law Claudio (Clive Owen), Hamlet returns. Soon rumors spread that a ghost of the king is roaming the castle, accusing his brother of betraying and killing him.
While Hamlet and Ofélia live in a secret romance, as she is a commoner, insufficient position to marry the prince, they investigate the suspected murder of the king, and Hamlet is forced to take revenge. It is as if he rejects the bitterness and ambiguity of his duty to claim the throne and bring justice to his father, but is forced by the forces of fate to play his part in this tragedy. Both he and Ofélia pretend to be mad to try to survive amidst the moral and ethical filth that has taken over the court.
But in this story, Ophelia is a much more active and less passive subject than in the original tale, confronting Claudio as Hamlet’s informant, listening to Gertrude’s secrets and seeking secret spells for her with a sorceress of the woods trying to manipulate events. around her, around him as he watches his universe implode.
In “Ophelia” the romance between her and Hamlet is better explored and it’s not just a thing in her head. While the film tells a period story, it feels very modern because Ridley gives off this modern-girl, avant-garde vibe. The film still escapes the often gothic, dark and pessimistic stereotypes of Hamlet. Although there is tragedy, the film manages to tell it in a less dense or heavy way. Perhaps not entirely loyal to Shakespeare’s plays, but still an enjoyable and innovative reading of his work.
Direction: Claire McCarthy