Blu-ray Review: Ophelia

The work of William Shakespeare is a fine place to practice altering source material. Sometimes this is done by changing the play’s setting to a more modern time. But other times artists have delved deeper into minor characters. Playwright Tom Stoppard made his bones with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He dug into a bit of backstory for the two men that accompany Hamlet. The play is still being performed around the globe. Lisa Klein wrote a book about Ophelia from Hamlet. She gave a bit of backstory to a character who gets treated wrong by Hamlet and eventually ends up floating in the water. Now her novel has been adapted for big screen by director Claire McCarthy and screenwriter Semi Chellas. Ophelia gives a deeper picture of a woman who had a really pathetic royal boyfriend.

Ophelia (Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘s Daisey Ridley) was brought to Queen Gertrude (Twin Peaks‘ Naomi Watts) room in Elsinore Castle to become part of her Ladies-in-waiting. The feisty girl has moved up the ranks fast as a close confident who isn’t just another Yes Lady. Her rise in the royal eyes gets her noticed by Prince Hamlet (Captain Fantastic‘ George MacKay). He’s not exactly the most assertive royal so she can catch his fancy. The boy is freaking out since his dad dies and Claudius (Children of Men‘s Clive Owen) moves hard on Queen Gertrude. Things are going rotten in Denmark fast. While the basic parts of Shakespeare’s Hamlet plays out, we’re given a view from Ophelia. She’s doing more than her stage role. She is much more active away from the traditional script. We discover more about her relationship with Hamlet so that when it comes time for end, there’s more going down.

Ophelia is rather inventive when it comes to going deeper into the second most tragic figure in the play. Daisey Ridley shows she can do more than cut things up with a light saber. She holds her own against Naomi Watts. Clive Owens is superior, smug and creepy as he take over control of the throne. You keep waiting for Hamlet to do more. But that wouldn’t be Hamlet’s way of doing anything. He remains a rather passive and reactive character while Ophelia takes major steps when she realizes her man isn’t going to step up in the right way. The production design brings an extra sense of realism to the performances. Ophelia brings a bit of depth to a character that some let float away.

The video is 2.39:1 anamorphic. The 1080p resolution brings out the details in the castle locations. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA. It sounds clear so you can make out the conversations clearly. The movie is subtitled in English and Spanish.

Cast And Crew Interviews (30:41) includes talks with director Claire McCarthy, Clive Owen and George MacKay. They reflect on shooting around real castles.

Deleted Scenes (7:57) includes more time with Ophelia as a small girl, time in the Queen’s court and more time with Hamlet.

Theatrical Trailer (2:07) lets us know we’ll be getting more of her story.

Scream Factory presents Ophelia. Directed by Claire McCarthy. Screenplay by: Semi Chellas. Starring: Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, George MacKay, Tom Felton & Devon Terrell. Rated: PG-13. Running Time: 107 minutes. Released: November 5, 2019.

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