All kinds of movies can be seen at a film festival. That is one of the great things about them. Documentary movies and film festivals were meant to go together. Very few documentaries get any kind of distribution and film festivals are sometimes the only outlet for these films to get seen. Boring is a word that is often associated with documentaries. Unless the subject being covered is a personal interest to the viewer, documentaries can often lose its audience pretty quickly. It’s not always the case, but is more often than not. Unfortunately for the documentary film “Three Days (of Hamlet)” being shown this week at The 17th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival it is NOT one of the exceptions.
“Three Days (of Hamlet)” is the brainchild of actor Alex Hyde-White, son of veteran actor Wilfrid Hyde-White. Alex Hyde-White may not have a household name, but you may recognize him from a movie or two. One of his most visible roles was in “Pretty Woman”. He played David Morse the grandson of the man who Richard Gere’s character was trying to buy his company. His character appeared in the dinner scene and at the polo match. Remember him now?
The documentary focuses on Alex and a group of actors getting ready to put together a performance of Hamlet, the catch is they only have three days to prepare for the performance. Besides the trials and tribulations of trying to put on a Shakespeare play in such a short amount of time, the documentary also makes note of some of the parallels the play has to Alex’s life and his relationship with his deceased father (Wilfred passed away many years ago).
Something you see in every documentary is people getting interviewed. They are often sitting some place comfortable and talking about the subject at hand. Alex Hyde-White not only directed the documentary of “Three Days (of Hamlet)”, but he also took on the role of Hamlet in the documentary. So maybe he did not have time to check out the room he did his interview in because the acoustics in the room was terrible. The room kept echoing and the sound was real low. Why this was not fixed in post is a mystery, but when the filmmaker can’t be clearly heard in the documentary it is not a good sign.
You can certainly tell that a very talented group of actors was gathered to put on this play reading. You want experience actors to work on a Shakespeare play. The most fascinating actor to watch in the documentary had to be Richard Chamberlain. He plays Polonius and constantly commanded the camera whenever he is talking to his fellow actors or when he is performing one of the scenes. There are many other talented players seen in the documentary, but were boring to watch in this film. None of them really grabs the audience’s attention. You need people like that on a documentary like this. Chamberlain was the only exception.
“Three Days (of Hamlet) becomes droll pretty quickly. By the 10 minute mark I was already fidgeting in my seat. Soon it became torture to sit through (not uncommon when I watch a documentary). If I had government secrets you wouldn’t have to waterboard me, just sit me in front of a documentary like this and I’ll start talking. The film just dragged and dragged and dragged. Finally, I started to fall asleep and it was when Hamlet (White) was talking about whether to kill his uncle or not. A pivotal scene in the play, but I just didn’t care.
Of course, my point of view is very biased. It’s very rare I will take to a documentary. There have been some, but VERY few. For those who enjoy documentary films, “Three Days (of Hamlet) could prove to be quite fascinating. If you have aspires to be an actor then it REALLY may grab your attention as some of the actors speak about their craft, making certain choices and “getting there”. Also, the music in the film is excellent. It was the only other part of the movie I liked.
PBIFF has two screenings of “Three Days (of Hamlet)”. The first will take place on Friday night, April 13th at 7:00pm at the Muvico in CityPlace. Alex Hyde-White is scheduled to attend the screening. There will be a second screening of the film on Wednesday, April 18th at 5:00pm at the Cobb Downtown at the Gardens. Click HERE for information about the film and how to purchase tickets.