Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) Script

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead English / 23.976 / MicroDVD





















Heads I win.








It must be indicative of something besides the redistribution of wealth.


A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his faith, for nothing else at least in the law of probability...



One, probability is a factor which operates within natural forces.

Two, probability is not operating as a factor.

Three, we are now held within um... sub or supernatural forces.

Discuss! What?

Look at it this way. If six monkeys...

If six monkeys...

The law of averages, if I have got this right means... that if six monkeys were thrown up in the air long enough... they would land on their tails about as often as they would land on their...

Heads, getting a bit of a bore, isn't it?

A bore? Well...

What about the suspense?

What suspense?

It must be the law of diminishing returns.

I still spell about to be broken.

Well, it was an even chance.

Seventy eight in a row. A new record, I imagine.

Is that what you imagine? A new record?

No questions? Not a flicker of doubt?

I could be wrong.

No fear? Fear?


Seventy nine.

I think I have it. Time has stopped dead.

The single experience of one coin being spun once has been repeated.

A hundred and fifty six times.

On the whole, doubtful.

Or, a spectacular vindication of the principle.

That each individual coin spun individually is... as likely to come down heads as tails and therefore should cause no surprise each individual time it does.

Heads... I've never known anything like it.

He has never known anything like it.

But he has never known anything to write home about.

Therefore it's just nothing to write home about.

What's the first thing you remember?

Oh, let's see, hm... the first thing that comes into my head, you mean?

No... the first thing you remember...

No, it's not good. It's gone. So long time ago.

You don't get my mean.

Most first thing after all the things you forgot?

Oh, I see.

I've forgotten the question.

Are you happy?

What? Content? At ease?

Well I suppose so. What are you going to do now?

I don't know.

What do you want to do?


What about it?

We have been spinning coins together since I don't know when... and in all that time, if it is all that time, one hundred and fifty seven coins spun... consecutively have come down heads one hundred and fifty seven consecutive times, and all you can do is play with your food.

Wait a minute.

There was a messenger.

Rosencrantz... Guildenstern...

We were sent for.

Another curious scientific phenomenon is the fact that the fingernails grow after death

... as does the beard.


Beard! But you're not dead!

I didn't say they only started to grow after death!

The fingernails also grow before birth. Though not the beard.

What? Beard! What's the matter with you?

The toenails on the other hand never grow at all.

The toenails on the other foot never grow at all.

Do you remember the first thing that happened today?

Oh, I woke up, I suppose.

I've got it now...

That man, he woke us up.

A messenger. That's it... pale sky before dawn, a man standing on his saddle to bang on the shutters...

But then he called our names...

You remember, man woke us up.

We were sent for. That's why we're here.

Traveling a matter of extreme urgency... a royal summons, his very words... official business no questions asked up, we get and off at the gallop, fearful lest we come too late!

Too late for what?

How would I know? We haven't got there yet.

What's that?


An audience!

Don't move!

Perfect... well met, in fact, and just in time.

Why's that?

Why, we grow rusty and you catch us at the very point of decadence... this time tomorrow we might have forgotten everything we ever knew.

We'd be back where we started, improvising.

Tumblers, are you?

We can give you a tumble, if that's your taste, and times being what they are.

Otherwise for a jingle of coin we can do you a selection of gory romances.

Pirated from the Italian and it doesn't take much to make a jingle... even a single coin has music in it, should it be gold.


at your command.

My name is Guildenstern, and this is Rosencrantz.

I'm sorry, his name's Guildenstern, and I'm Rosencrantz.

We've played to bigger, but quality counts for something.

Tragedians? What exactly do you do?

Tragedy, sir.

Deaths and disclosures, universal and particular, denouements...

transvestite melodrama...

We transport you back into a world of intrigue and illusion. Clowns if you like...


We can do you ghosts...

and battles...

on the skirmish level... heroes... villains... tormented lovers...

set pieces in the poetic vein, we can do you rapiers, or rape... or both,

by all means faithless wives and ravished virgins... flagrante delicto at a price. For which there are special terms.

It costs little to watch, and a little more to get caught up in the action.

If that's your taste and times being what they are.

What are they? Indifferent.



See anything you like? Lucky thing we came along.

For us? Also for you.

For some it is performance, for others patronage, they are two sides of the same coin... or being as there are so many of us the same side of two coins.

It was luck, then? Or fate.

Yours or ours? It could hardly be one without the other.

Fate then. You said, caught up in the action?

I did! I did! You're quicker than your friend.

For a handful of coins I happen to have... a private and uncut performance of the Rape of the Sabine Women... or rather woman... or rather Alfred... and for eight you can participate.

It could have been.

It didn't have to be obscene.

I was prepared.

But it's this, is it?

No enigma... no dignity, nothing classical or poetic... only this... a comic pornographer and a rabble of prostitutes.

You should have caught us in better times.

We were purists then.

Excuse me!


You're not, ah, exclusively players, then?

We're inclusively players, sir.

I had no idea-- No.

I mean I've heard of--, but I've never actually seen... I mean, what exactly do you do?

We keep to our usual stuff, more or less, only inside out.

We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off.

Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as an entrance somewhere else.

Wait a minute.

What will you do for that?

Do you know any good plays?

Plays? Oh, yes.

One of the Greeks, perhaps? You're familiar with the tragedies of Antiquity, are you?

The great homicidal classics?

'Maidens aspiring to Godheads', or vice versa? That's your kind of thing, is it?

I can't say it is, really. Eh we're more of the love, blood and rhetoric school.

Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric without the love... and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive.

But we can't do you love and rhetoric without the blood.

Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.

Is that what people want? It's what we do.

Would you like a bet?

Double or nothing.



Double or... nothing.

Come on.

I say that was lucky. It was "tails".

Welcome! Dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Moreover that we much did long to see you.

The need we have to use you did provoke our hasty sending.

Something have you heard of Hamlet's transformation, so call it, sith nor th' exterior nor the inward men resembles that it was.

What it should be, more than his father's death, that thus hath put him so much from th' understanding of himself.

I cannot dream of.

I entreat you both that, being of so young days brought up with him.

And sith so neighbored to his youth and haviour, that you vouch-safe your rest here in our court some little time so by your companies to draw him on to pleasures and to gather so much as from occasion you may glean whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus that opened lies within our remedy.


Gentleman, he hath much talked of you, and sure I am, two men there are not living to whom he more adheres.

If it will please you to show us so much gentry and good will as to extend your time with us awhile for the supply and profit of our hope, your visitation shall receive such thanks as fits a king's remembrance.

Both your majesties might by the sovereign power you have of us, put your dread pleasures more into command than to entreaty.

But we both obey, and here give up ourselves in the full bent to lay our service freely at your feet, to be commanded.

Thanks, Rosencrantz... and gentle Guildenstern.

Thanks Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.

And I beseech you instantly to visit my too much changed son.

Heaven make our presence and our practices pleasant and helpful to him!

Ah, amen!

I want to go home. Don't let them confuse you.

We're in over our steps, heading out of depth. stepping out of the heads, so heading to that step.

Stop there!

Hasn't it ever happened to you that all of a sudden and for no reason at all you haven't the faintest idea how to spell the word... which or "house"... because when you write it down you just can't remember ever having seen those letters in that order before?

I remember... What?

I remember when there were no questions.

There were always questions.

Answers, yes. There were answers to everything.

You've forgotten. I haven't forgotten.

How I used to remember my own name! And yours, Oh, yes!

There were answers everywhere you looked. There was no question about it-- people knew who we were and if they didn't they asked and we told them out names.

We did the trouble is, each of them is plausible, without being instinctive.


All your life you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into outline it is like being ambushed by a grotesque.

A man standing in his saddle in the half-lit, half-alive dawn banged in the shutters and called two names. And when he called we came. That much is certain, we came.

Well, I can tell you I'm sick to death of it.

I don't care which one I am. So why don't you make up your mind.

We didn't come all this way for a christening. But we have been comparatively fortunate.

We might have been left to sift the whole field... of human nomen-clauture Like two blind men... Looting a bazaar for heir own portraits at least we are presented with alternatives.

Well, as from now my name is... But not choice.

Your smallest action sets off another somewhere else, and is set off by it.

And I do think or else this brain of mine hunts not the trail of policy...

We're going round in circles!

... so sure as it hath use to do that I have found the very cause of hamlet's lunacy!

Oh, speak of that! That do I long to hear.

Give first admittance to the ambassadors.

He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found the head and source of all your son's distemper.

I doubt it is no other but the main...

his father's death and our o'er hasty marriage.

Well... we shall sift him.

It's all right.

There's a logic at work. It's all done for you, don't worry.

Enjoy it. Relax.


We have been briefed. Have we?

Hamlet's transformation. What do you recollect?

Well, he's changed, hasn't he? The exterior and inward man fails to resemble.

Draw him onto pleasures... glean what afflicts him.

Something more than his father's death.

He's always talking about us... there aren't two people living whom he dotes on more than us.

We cheer him up... find out what's the matter. Exactly.

It's a matter of asking the right questions and giving away as little as we can.

And then we can go?

And receive such thanks as fits as king's remembrance.

Oh, I like the sound of that...

What do you think she means by remembrance?

He doesn't forget his friend? Would you care to estimate?

Some kings tend to be amnesiac, others in the opposite, I suppose... whatever that is...

How much? Elephantine.

How much?

Retentive... he's a very retentive king, a royal retainer.

What are you playing at?

Words... words they're all we have to go on.

Look at this.

Leave things alone. Sorry.

This is interesting.

You would think that this would fall faster than this, wouldn't you?

Well... and you'd be absolutely right.

Fancy a game?

We're spectators.

Do you want to play questions?

How do you play that? You have to ask questions.

Statement! One... Love.

Cheating! How?

I hadn't started yet. Statement! Two... Love.

Are you counting that? What?

Are you counting that?

Foul! No repetitions. Three... Love and game.

I'm not going to play if you're going to be like that.

Whose serve?

Err... Hesitation! Love... one.

Whose go? Why?

Why not? What for?

Foul! No synonyms! One... all.

What in God's name is going on?

Foul! No rhetoric! Two... one.

What does it all add up to? Can't you guess?

Were you addressing me? Is there anyone else?

Who? How would I know?

Why do you ask? Are you serious?

Was that rhetoric? No.

Statement! Two all. Game point.

What's the matter with you today? When?

What? Are you deaf?

Am I dead? Yes or no?

Is there a choice? Is there a God?

Foul! No non sequiturs! Three... two, one game all.

What's your name? What's yours?

You first. Statement! One... Love.

What's your name when you're at home? What's yours?

When I'm at home? Is it different at home?

What home? Haven't you got one?

Why do you ask? What are you driving at?

What's your name?

Repetition! Two... Love. Match point.

Who do you think you are? Rhetoric!! Game and match!

Rosencrantz! What?


How was that? Clever.

Natural? Instinctive!

Now I'll try you! Not yet! Catch me unawares!

Guilden... Me unawares.

Ready? Never mind.

... for I will use no art, mad let us grant him then and now remains.

That we find out the cause of this effect, or rather say, the cause of this defect.

For this effect defective, comes by cause: Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.

Perpend. I have a daughter: Have, while she mine.

Who in her duty and obedience, mark. Hath given me this: now gather, and surmise.

"To the Celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia"

That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase, beautified is a vile phrase: but eh, you shall hear thus "In her excellent white bosom..."

Came this from Hamlet to her?

Good Madam stay awhile, I will be faithful.

"Doubt thou, the stars are fire."

"Doubt that the sun doth move, but never doubt I love."

... this hot love on the wing, as I perceived it, I must tell you that. Before my daughter told me, what might you.

Or my dear Majesty your Queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk or table-book. Or given my heart a winking, dump, or look'd upon this love, with idle sight, what might you think?

No, I went round to work, and my mistress thus I did bespeak, Lord Hamlet is a Prince out of thy star, this must not be...

How does my good lord Hamlet?

Well, God have mercy.

Do you know me, my lord?


Excellent well.

You are a fishmonger. Not I, my lord.

Then I would you were so honest a man. Honest my lord?

What do you read, my lord?

Words, words, words.

What is the matter, my lord? Between who?

I mean the matter that your read, my lord. Statement.

But the satirical role it says here that old man have grey beards...

Who was that? Didn't you know him?

He didn't know me. He didn't see you.

I didn't see him. We shall see.

I hardly knew him, he's changed.

You could see that? Transformed.

How do you know? Inside and out.

I see. He's not himself.

He's changed. I could see that.

Glean what afflicts him!

Me? Him.

How? Question and answer.

He's afflicted. You question, I answer.

He's not himself, you know. I'm him, you see.

Who am I? You're yourself.

And he's you? Not a bit of it.

Are you afflicted? That's the idea. Are you ready?

Let's go back a bit.

I'm afflicted. I see.

Glean what afflicts me. Right.

Question and answer. How should I begin?

Address me.

My dear Guildenstern!

You've forgotten, haven't you? My dear Rosencrantz!

I don't think you quite understand. What we are attempting is a hypothesis... in which I answer for him while you ask me question.


You know what to do? What?

Are you stupid? Pardon?

Are you deaf? Did you speak?

Not now... Statement!

Not now!

What sign?

What? Well... uh, uh...

Would you like a bite? No.

Thank you.

Oh, you mean you pretend to be him. And I ask you questions!

Very good.

You had me confused. I could see I had.

How should I begin? Address me.

My honoured lord! My dear Rosencrantz!

Am I pretending to be you, then? Certainly not.

Well if you like. Shall we continue.

My honoured lord! My dear fellow!

How are you? Afflicted!

Really? In what way? Transformed.

Inside or out? Both.

I see. Not much new there.

Look go into details... Delve.

Probe the background... establish the situation.

So your uncle's the king of Denmark?

That's right. And my father before him.

His father before him. No, my father before him.

But surely... You may well ask.

Let me get it straight.

Your father was king. You were his only son. Your father dies.

You are of age. Your uncle becomes king.

Yes. Unusual.

Undid me. Undeniable.

He slipped in. Which reminds me.

Well, it would.

I don't want to be personal. lt's common knowledge.

Your mother's marriage. He slipped in.

His body was still warm. So was hers.

Extraordinary. Indecent.

It makes you think. Don't think I haven't.

And with her husband's brother. They were close.

She went to him. Too close.

For comfort. lt looks bad.

It adds up. Incest to adultery.

Would you go so far. Never!

To sum up!

Your father, whom you love, dies, you are his heir, you come back... to find that hardly was the corpse cold before his young brother... poped onto his throne and into his sheets, thereby offending both legal and natural practice.

Now... why exactly are you behaving in this extraordinary manner?

I can't imagine!

And yet we were sent for.

And we did come.


What? Guildenstern.

What? Don't you discriminate at all?

What? Nothing!

Look at this!

Watch closely!


Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

Into my grave?

Indeed that is out of the air.

My honourable lord.

I would, most humbly, take my leave of you.

You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part with all.

Except my life.

Except my life.

Except my life.

Fare you well, my lord.

There tedious old fools.

You go to seek the lord Hamlet?

There he is.

What's he doing?

Talking... to himself.

My honoured lord!

My most dear lord!

My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern?

Ah, Rosencrantz!

Oh, good lads, how do you both?

As the indifferent children of the earth.

Happy in that we are not overhappy. On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.

Nor the soles of her shoes?

Neither, my lord.

Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?

Faith, her privates we.

In the secret parts of fortune?

O, most true! She is a strumpet.

Well what news?

None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.

Then is doomsday near. But your news is not true.

Let me question more in particular.

What have you, my good friends deserved at the hands of fortune that she spends you to prison hither?

Prison, my lord?

Denmark's a prison.

Then is the world one.

A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons, Denmark begin one of the worst.

We think not so, my lord.

Why, then 'tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

To me it is a prison.

Why then your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your mind.

O, God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space... were it not that I have bad dreams.

But in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?

To visit you, my lord: no other occasion.

Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks but I thank you.

Were you not sent for?

Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation?

Well... come, come, nay, speak.

What should we say, my lord?

Why anything but to the purpose. You were sent for.

And there is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesties have not craft enough to colour.

I know the good King and Queen have sent for you.

To what end, my lord?

That you must teach me.

Be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for or no.

My lord, we were sent for.

Ah... I will tell you why.

I know he finds it striking too short at grief...

His antique sword the bearer to his arms lies where it falls, repugnant to command.

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, Lost all my mirth, foregone all custom of exercises, and indeed, it goes so heavily with my dispositions... that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory: this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'er hanging firmament... this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, Why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.

What a piece of work is a man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals, and yet to me, what is this quint essence of dust?

Man delights not me...

nor woman neither though by your smiling you seem to say so.

My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

Why did ye laugh then, when I said "Man delights not me"?

To think, my lord, if you delight not in man... what Lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you.

We coted them on the way: and hither are they coming to offer you service.

Eh, he that plays the king shall be welcome.

Gentleman, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come then. You are welcome.

But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.

In what, my dear lord?

I am but mad north-northwest. when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Well be with you, gentleman.

Hark you... Guildenstern... And eh you too, at each ear a hearer. that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling clouts.

I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players.

My lord, I have news to tell you.

Eh my lord, I have news to tell you.

When Roscius was an actor in Rome.

The actors are come hither, my lord.

Buzz, buzz.

Upon my honour--

Then came each actor on his ass.

The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy... history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical.

I thought you... No.

I say... Look at this!

I think we can say we made some progress.

You think so? I think we can say that.

I think we can say he made us look ridiculous.

We played it close to the chest of course. Question and answer!

He was scoring off us all down the line.

He caught us on the wrong foot once or twice, perhaps, but I think we gained some ground.

He murdered us. He might have had the edge.

Twenty-seven-three, and you think he might have had the edge?

He murdered us. What about our evasions?

Oh, our evasions were lovely.

You were sent for? He says. "My lord, we were sent for."

I didn't know where to put myself. He had six rhetoricals-

It was question and answer alright. And two repetitions.

Twenty-seven questions he got out and answered three. I was waiting for you to delve.

When is he going to start delving, I asked myself.

We got his symptoms, didn't we?

Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half didn't mean anything at all.

Thwarted ambition a sense of grievance, that's my diagnosis.

Six rhetorical and two repetition, leaving nineteen of which we answered fifteen.

And what did we get in return? He's depressed!

Denmark's a prison and he'd rather live in a nutshell.

Some shadow play about the nature of ambition and finally one direct question which might've led somewhere and led in fact to his illuminating claim to tell a hawk for a handbag.

Handsaw. Handsaw.

When the wind is southerly.

And the weather's clear.

And when it isn't he can't.

He's at the mercy of the elements.

Is that southerly?

We came from roughly south.

Which way is that?

In the morning the sun would be easterly. I think we can assume that.

That it's morning?

If it is, and the sun is over there, for instance, that would be northerly.

On the other hand, if it is not morning and the sun is over there. that would still be northerly.

To put it another way, if we came from down there, and it's morning, the sun would be up there... but if is actually, over there, and it's still morning, we must have come from back there and if that is southerly, and the sun is really over there... then it's the afternoon.

However, if none of these is the case.

Why don't you go and have a look? Pragmatism!

Is that all you have to offer?

I merely suggest the position of the sun... if it is out, would give you a rough idea of the time.

Alternatively, the clock, if it is going, would give you a rough idea of the position of the sun.

I forget which you are trying to establish.

I am trying to establish the direction of the wind.

There isn't any wind.

Draught, yes.

Repugnant to command, unequal match'd Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide. but with the whiff and wind of his fell sword, the unnerved father falls.

Then senseless Ilium, seeming to feel his blow, with flaming top. Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash.

Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear.

For lo, his sword...

Of reverend Priam, seem'd I the air to stick...

Mind the bottom of... the step.


Aroused vengeance sets him new a-word, and never did the Cyclops' hammers fall on Mars his armours, forg'd for proof eterne, with less remorse than Pyrrhus bleeding sword. Priam.

Out... out thou strumpet Fortune, all you gods, in general Synod take away her power, break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel, and bowl the round nave down the hill of Heaven, as low as to the fiends.

This is too long.

It shall to the barber's, with your beard.

Prithee say on: he's for a speech, or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps.

Say on, come to Hecuba.

But who, O who, had seen the mobled Queen...

The mobled Queen? That's good, mobled Queen is good.

This is interesting.

'Tis well.

I'll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.

Good, my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear?

Let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time.

After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

God's bodkin, man, much better!

Use every man after his desert, and who shall scape whipping?

Use them after your own honour and dignity.

The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

Take them in. Come sirs.

Follow him, friends: we'll hear a play tomorrow.

Can you play the "Murder of Gonzago"?

Ay, my lord.

We'll have it tomorrow night.

You could for a need study a speech of some 12 or 16 lines which I would set down and insert in it.

Follow that lord and look you mock him not.

My good friends, I'll leave you till night. You are welcome in Elsinore.

Good, my lord.

So you've caught up.

Not yet, sir.

Now mind your tongue, or we'll have it out and throw the rest of you away like a nightingale at a Roman feast.

Took the words out of my mouth. You'd be lost for words.

You'd be tongue tied. Like a mute in a monologue.

Like a nightingale at a Roman feast.

You left us. Yes... on the road.

You don't understand the humiliation of it... to be tricked out of the single assumption that makes our existence bearable. That somebody is watching.

We are actors, we are the opposite of people.

So? We need an audience.

We had an appointment. That is true.

You know why you're here.

We only know what we're told and for all we know it isn't even true.

One acts on assumptions. What do you assume?

Hamlet is not himself outside or in. We have to glean what afflicts him.

He's melancholy. Melancholy?

Mad. How is he mad?

How's he mad?

More morose than mad perhaps.

Melancholy. Moody.

He had moods. Of moroseness?

Madness and yet. Quite.

For instance.

He talks to himself which might be madness.

If he didn't talk sense, which he does. Which suggests the opposite.

Of what? I think I have it.

A man talking sense to himself... is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.

Or just as mad. Or just as mad.

And he does both. So there you are.

Start raving sane. Why?

Ah. Why? Exactly.

Exactly what?

Exactly why? Exactly why what?

What? Why?

Why what, exactly? Why is he mad?

I don't know!

The old man thinks he's in love with his daughter.

We're out of our depth here!

No, no, no, he hasn't got a daughter, the old man thinks he's in love with his daughter.

The old man is?

Hamlet. In love. Man's daughter.

The old man thinks.

It's beginning to make sense! Unrequited passion!

Where are you going?

I can come and go as I please.

You know your way around. I've been here before.

We're still finding our feet.

I should concentrate on not losing your heads.

Do you speak from knowledge? Precedent.

You've been here before.

And I know which way the wind is blowing.

Wait! Back!

This place is a mad house.

Behind ye!

Are you familiar with this play? No.

A slaughterhouse, eight corpses all told.

Six. Eight.

What are they?

They're dead.

Actor! What do you know about death? The mechanics of cheap melodrama! Cheap melodrama.

It doesn't bring death home to anyone! lt's not at home to anyone!

Shut up! Shut up!

You can't do death!

On the contrary, it's what we do best.

We have to exploit whatever talent is given to us and our talent is for dying.

We can die heroically, comically, ironically, sadly, suddenly, slowly... disgustingly charmingly or from a great height.

Audiences know what to expect, and that is all they are prepared to believe in.


And can you by no drift of conference get from him why he puts on his confusion?

He does confess he feels himself distracted.

But from what cause he will by no means speak.

(To be or not to be...)

that is the question.

Did he receive you well?

Most like a gentleman.

But with much forcing of his disposition.

Niggard of question but of our demands, most free in his reply.

Did you assay him to any pastime?

Madam, it so fell out that certain players we o'er-raught on the way of these we told him, and there did seem in him a kind of joy to hear of it.

They are here about the court, this night to play before him.

'Tis most true, and he beseeched me to entreat your Majesties to here and see the matter.

Good gentlemen, give him a further edge and drive his purpose into these delights.

We shall, my lord.

Sweet Gertrude, leave us too...

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither, that he, as 'twere by accident may here affront Ophelia.

Do you ever think of yourself as actually dead lying in a box with a lid on it?


Nor do I really.

It's silly to be depressed by it.

I mean, one thinks of it like being alive in a box, and one keeps forgetting to take into account the fact that one is dead... which should make all the difference... shouldn't it?

I mean, you'd never know you were in a box, would you?

It would be just like you were asleep in a box.

Not that I'd like to sleep in a box, mind you, not without any air, you'd wake up dead for a start, and then where would you be?

In a box. That's the bit I don't like frankly. That's why don't think of it.

Because you'd be helpless?

Stuffed in a box like that, I mean, you'd be in there for ever.

Even taking into account the fact that you're dead, it isn't a pleasant thought.

Especially if you're dead, really... ask yourself, if I asked you straight off...

I'm going to stuff you in this box now, would you rather be alive or dead.

Naturally, you prefer to be alive.

Life in a box is better than no life at all. I expect.

You'd have a chance at least.

You could lie there thinking well, at least I'm not dead!

In a minute somebody is going to bang on the lid and tell me to come out.

Hey, you! What's yer name! Come out of there!

I think I'm going to kill you.

Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered.

I wouldn't think about it, if I were you. You'd only get depressed.

My lord, I have rememberances of yours that I have long had long to redeliver, I pray you now receive them.

No, not I. I never gave you ought.

My honoured lord, you know right well you did.

And with them words of so sweet breath composed as made the things more rich.

Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death?

There must have been one, a moment, in childhood, when it first occurred to you that you don't go on forever.

It must have been shattering stamped into one's memory.

And yet I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all.

We must be born with an intuition of mortality.

Before we know the word for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling... with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction and time is its only measure.

What is the dumb show for? lt's a device, really, it makes the action that follows more or less comprehensible.

You understand, we are tied down to a language which makes up in obscurity what it lacks in style.

Is this the "Murder of Gonzago"? That's the least of it.

Who was that?

The king's brother and uncle to the prince.

Not exactly fraternal.

Not exactly avuncular as time goes on.

Go to, I'll no more on't, it hath made me mad!

I say we will have no more marriages!

Those that are married already all but one shall live.

The rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.

That didn't look like love to me.


His affections do not that way tend, nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little, was not like madness.

How now Ophelia. You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said, we heard it all.

There's something in his soul o'er which his melancholy sits on brood.

And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose will be some danger, which for to prevent I have in quick determination.

Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England.

Gentlemen! Gentlemen, it doesn't seem to be coming.

We are not getting it at all what do you think?

What was I supposed to think? Wasn't that the end?

Do you call that an ending? With practically everyone still on his feet?

My goodness no over your dead body.

There's a design at work in all art surely you know that?

Events must play themselves out to an aesthetic, moral and logical conclusion.

And what's that in this case? lt never varies.

We aim for the point where everyone who is marked for death dies.


Generally speaking things have gone about as far as they can possibly go when things have got about as bad as they can reasonably get.

Who decides?

Decides? It is written.

We're tragedians, you see. We follow direction there is no choice involved.

The bad end unhappily, the good unluckily.

That is what tragedy means. Next!

Having murdered his brother and wooed the widow, the Poisoner mounts the throne!

Here we see him. And his queen give rein to their unbridled passion!

Enter Lucianus, nephew to the king!

Usurped by his uncle and shattered by his mother's incestuous marriage...

He loses his reason.

Throwing the court into turmoil and disarray staggering from the suicidal to the merely idle.

He has a plan to catch the conscience of the king.

The king rises!

What... frighted with false fire!

How fares my lord?

Give o'er the play! Give me some light!


That's so interesting play. What a thing of the world!

It wasn't that bad...

There's something they're not telling us. What?

There's something they're not telling us.

My lord... My lord...

The Queen would speak with you. And presently...

Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in the shape of a camel?

By the mass, and this like a camel indeed.

Me thinks it is like a weasel. lt is backed like a weasel.

Or like a whale? Very like a whale.

Then I will come to my mother by and by.

I will say so. 'By and by' is easily said.

Leave me, friends.

I like him not, nor stand it safe with us to let his madness range.

Therefore prepare you.

I your commission will forthwith despatch, and he to England shall along with you.

No by the Rood, not so: You are the Queen, your husband's brother's wife, but would you were not so. You are my mother.

Nay, then I'll set those to you than can speak.

Come come and sit you down, you shall not budge.

You go not till I sent you up a glass, where you may see the in most part of you.

What wilt thou do thou: wilt not murder me.

Help... help... ho.

How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat dead!

Oh, I am slain! Oh me, what hast thou done?

Nay, I know not!

Is the king?

Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this?

A rash and bloody deed?

A bloody deed almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother.

As kill a king? Ay, lady, it was my word.

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!

Is that you? I don't know.

It's you.

We're not dead yet then? Well we're here, aren't we?

Are we? I can't see a thing.

We're on a boat. I know.

Dark, isn't it? Not for night.

No, not for night.

It's dark for day. Oh, yes, it's dark for day.

Do you think death could possibly be a boat?

No, no, no... death is... not. Death isn't.

You take my meaning. Death is the ultimate negative. Not being.

You can't not be on a boat.

I've frequently not been on boats.

No, no, no... what you've been is not on boats.

I wish I was dead.

I could jump over the side. That would put a spoke in their wheel.

Unless they're counting on it.

I shall remain on board. That will put a spoke in their wheel.

You all right? Yes, why?

Would you like to come up now? Yes all right, thank you.

Try to be more careful. Sorry.

Nice bit of planking that. Yes.

Lovely bilges. Yes.

Beautiful bottom... Yes. I'm very fond of boats myself.

I like the way they're contained.

You don't have to worry about which way to go, or whether to go at all... the question doesn't arise, does it?

I think I'll spend the rest of my life on boats.

Very healthy. One is free on a boat.

For a time, relatively.

I think I'm going to be sick.

He's there!

What's he doing? Sleeping.

It's all right for him.

What is? He can sleep.

It's all right for him. He's got us now.

He can sleep. lt's all done for him.

He's got us. And we've got nothing.

And we've got nothing.

Why don't you say something original! You don't take me up on anything... you just repeat everything I say in a different order.

I can't think of anything original. I am only good in support.

I'm sick of making the running.

There it's all right. I'll see we're all right.

But we've got nothing to go on. We're out on our own.

We're on our way to England. We're taking Hamlet to the English King.

What for? What for? Where have you been?


We've got a letter. You remember the letter.

Do I?

Everything is explained in the letter.

Is that it, then? What?

So we take Hamlet to the English King, we hand over the letter, what then?

That's it, we're finished. Who is the English King?

That depends on when we get there.

So we've got a letter which explains everything.

You've got it.

I thought you had it. I do have it.

You have it. You've got it.

I don't get it. You haven't got it.

I just said that. I've got it.

Oh, I've got it. Shut up.


What a shambles! We're just not getting anywhere!

I don't believe in it anyway.

In what? England.

Just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean? I mean I don't believe it.

And even if it's true, the King of England won't know what we're taking about.

What are we going to say? We say your majesty, we have arrived.

And who are you? We are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Never heard of you! Well, we're nobody special.

What's your game? We have our instructions...

First I've heard of it. Let me finish.

We've come from Denmark.

What do you want? Nothing...

We're delivering Hamlet... Who's he?

You've heard of him. Oh, I've heard of him all right and I want nothing to do with it. You march in here without so much as a by your leave and expect me to take in every lunatic you try to pass off with a lot of unsubstantiated.

We've got a letter! I see... I see...

Well, this seems to support your story. Such as it is... it is an exact command from the King of Denmark. for several different reasons, importing Denmark's health and England's too, that on the reading of this letter, without delay, I should have Hamlet's head cut off!

We're his friends.

How do you know?

From our young days brought up with him.

You've only got their word for it.

But that's what we depend on.

Well, yes... and then again no.

Let us keep things in proportion. Assume, if you like, that they're going to kill him.

Well, he is a man, he is mortal. Death comes too, so on extra.

And consequently he would have died anyway, sooner or later.

And then again, what is so terrible about death?

As Socrates so philosophically put it, since we don't know what death is, it is illogical to fear it.

It might be... very nice.

Or to look at it another way, we are little men, we don't know the ins and outs of the matter, there are wheels within wheels, etc...

All in all, I think we'd be well advised to leave well alone.

It's awful. But it could have been worse.

I was beginning to think it was.


Huh, all in the same boat then.

What do you make of it so far?

What's a happening?


Everyone on stage!


Where's Hamlet?

Gone. Gone where?

The pirates took him.

But they can't. We're supposed to be... we've got a letter which says... the whole thing's pointless without him, we need Hamlet for our release!

I'll pretend to be... You pretend to be him and...

I suppose we just go on. Go where?

England. England! I don't believe it!

Just a conspiracy of cartographers you mean.

I mean I don't believe it and even if it's true what do we say?

We say we've arrived! Who are you?

We are Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.

Which is which? Well, I'm Guildenstern.

And then he's Rosencrantz. Exactly. What does this have to do with me?

You turn up out of the blue with some cock and bull story.

We have a letter! A letter!

As England is Denmark's faithful tributary as love between them like the palm might flourish, etc.

That on the knowing of this contents, without delay of any kind... should those bearers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, put to sudden death.

Not that letter. Give him the other one.

I haven't got another one.

They've gone!

It's all over!

Where we went wrong? Was getting on a boat.

They had it in for us didn't they? Right from the beginning who'd have thought that we were so important?

But why?

Was it all for this? Who are we that so much should converge on our little deaths?

You are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. That is enough.

No, it is not enough.

To be told so little to such an end and still, finally, to be denied an explanation.

In our experience, almost everything ends in death.

Your experience! Actors!

You die a thousand casual deaths and come back in a different hat.

But nobody gets up after death... there's no applause only silence and some secondhand clothes, that's death!

If we have a destiny, then so had he and this is ours, then that was his and if there are no explanations for us, then let there be none for him.

Oh, come, come gentlemen, no flattery it was merely competent.

You see, it is the kind you do believe in,

it's what is expected. Deaths for all ages and occasions!

Deaths of king and princes and nobodies...

That's it then, is it?

We've done nothing wrong. We didn't harm anyone, did we?

I can't remember.

All right, then, I don't care. I've had enough.

To tell you the truth, I'm relieved.

There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no.

But somehow we missed it. Well, we'll now better next time.

Till then.

The sight is dismal.

And our affairs from England come too late.

The ears are senseless that should give us hearing. To tell him his commandment is fulfilled... that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.