Aug 052010

The following is a scene from Tom Stoppard’s film adaptation of his own play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.  The scene, which involves Gary Oldman (Rosencrantz) and Tim Roth (Guildenstern), illustrates some interesting things about language, specifically the game of Questions (has anyone ever played this?  I think it’s a good exercise for writers).  Note the specific “fouls” in the game and try to see if they apply to anything you’ve written lately.

Throughout the film, Rosencrantz is the man who sees everything and understands nothing. Making these “discoveries” in the game room, he believes he will simply be able to do it or make it work, as though he invented juggling and came up with the theory that two objects will fall at the same rate when dropped from the same height. But for anyone that has taken eighth grade science, we know that the feather is the one exception to the rule. Guildenstern, on the other hand, seems to be so wrapped up in his own ego that he thinks he understands everything.  (Just some observations.  I love this film.  The Questions game is what I really wanted to share).


  2 Responses to “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Questions Game — Richard Hartshorn”

  1. Gorgeous dialogue. The game itself creates the action of the scene, the plot, as it were. The scene is dying of indirection til they walk onto the court and the game begins. Then conflict, wit, speed, attack! This is the lesson, I think.

    • Yes, agreed. Much of the story involves the two title characters going about mundane daily life activities while the dramatic story of Hamlet goes on around them (much like the play itself, only in the play, we never really see what these two are up to). Nearly every scene is full of word play, puns, and wit abound.

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