Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Much as he would later do with Shakespeare in Love (1998), writer Tom Stoppard delivered a tale of Shakespearean origin from a skewed and unexpected perspective. In this case, it's the perspective of two relatively minor characters from Hamlet, Rosencrantz (Gary Oldman) and Guildenstern (Tim Roth), courtiers who, in the original play, were dispatched offstage before the narrative's conclusion. In Stoppard's script (which he also directed), the two supporting players take center stage as the events unfold in Elsinore Castle. Unable to determine the source of the prince's tortured despair, the duo ponders the question of fate as their predetermined roles are played out. Meanwhile, they dabble in a little verbal tennis and some ill-advised science experiments, and endure the puzzling attentions of mysterious wandering thespians led by (Richard Dreyfuss). Ordered to accompany Hamlet (Iain Glen) to England, the pair learn that the letter they carry instructs that nation's king to decapitate their mentally unbalanced and irksome charge, a revelation that Hamlet overhears.