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Finland, 1987 (MIFF 1990, Spotlight Kaurismäki )

Director: Aki Kaurismäki

A "black and white underground, B-movie classical drama" born out of serious drinking with a friend, Hamlet Goes Business is the only one of Kaurismäki's films winch the director professes to like, New Musical Express recently reported. "I think I made the blackest version of Hamlet ever. . . there's no-one alive in the end, all the characters in the film are dead except the dog. It's a big, industrialised Wall Street Hamlet. It's a horrible film but it's also funny," he commented.

This post-modern reworking of the classic play plunks Shakespeare's story into the midst of a bloody power struggle at the top of a Finnish family-run multinational company. Amongst the ring-leaders of manipulating schemers is an oafish Hamlet, who reads comics and plays with his computer; Ophelia, who likes ice-cream and smokes cigars; and a ghost that threatens to cause the vexed Hamlet to arrive late for dinner.

Kaurismäki says the film tells "the truth about life in a typical Western 'everything for sale' society." The script was improvised - Kaurismäki claims he had not read the play before making the film - and the film was made on a budget of $100,000. Considered by some to be his best and most original work to date, the film combines ironic melodrama with off-the-wall humour in what, if nothing else, is a refreshing and irreverent interpretation of the classic text.
- (PKa)

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