Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1991)

PG | 117 mins | Comedy-drama | 8 February 1991

Director:

Tom Stoppard

Writer:

Tom Stoppard

Cinematographer:

Peter Biziou

Editor:

Nicolas Gaster

Production Designer:

Vaughan Edwards

Production Companies:

Brandenberg International, Thirteen WNET
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HISTORY


       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland in 1966. On 19 Jun 1968, a DV news brief announced that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM), acquired the film rights to Stoppard’s play for $250,000 with an additional $100,000 payment to Stoppard, who was set to adapt the screenplay. Stoppard was also promised a ten percent share of the film’s gross after MGM recuperated “2.7 times [the] negative cost” of the film. Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff were slated to produce and John Boorman to direct. However, MGM later dropped the project, as stated in a 4 Feb 1970 Var item, and Chartoff approached Columbia Pictures for financing, though no further mentions of Columbia’s involvement appeared in AMPAS library production clippings.
       Having previously incorporated “250 lines from ‘Hamlet’” into a re-write of the stage version, Stoppard described his approach to writing the screenplay in a 20 Feb 1991 LAT article, stating that he kept only half of the original play in the film adaptation. After seeing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in various incarnations and performances over the years, Stoppard described it as “just an old friend that I could abuse a little bit.”
       As announced in 12 Feb 1988 DV and 17 Feb 1988 Var articles, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was acquired by Cinecom Entertainment Group, and the budget was set at $4 million. The scheduled start date for production was Sep 1988, and veteran stage designer John Napier was attached as production ... More Less


       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland in 1966. On 19 Jun 1968, a DV news brief announced that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM), acquired the film rights to Stoppard’s play for $250,000 with an additional $100,000 payment to Stoppard, who was set to adapt the screenplay. Stoppard was also promised a ten percent share of the film’s gross after MGM recuperated “2.7 times [the] negative cost” of the film. Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff were slated to produce and John Boorman to direct. However, MGM later dropped the project, as stated in a 4 Feb 1970 Var item, and Chartoff approached Columbia Pictures for financing, though no further mentions of Columbia’s involvement appeared in AMPAS library production clippings.
       Having previously incorporated “250 lines from ‘Hamlet’” into a re-write of the stage version, Stoppard described his approach to writing the screenplay in a 20 Feb 1991 LAT article, stating that he kept only half of the original play in the film adaptation. After seeing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in various incarnations and performances over the years, Stoppard described it as “just an old friend that I could abuse a little bit.”
       As announced in 12 Feb 1988 DV and 17 Feb 1988 Var articles, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was acquired by Cinecom Entertainment Group, and the budget was set at $4 million. The scheduled start date for production was Sep 1988, and veteran stage designer John Napier was attached as production designer, though Napier received no credit on the film. According to a 17 Feb 1988 Var news item, Jeremy Irons and Robert Lindsay were cast in the title roles, alongside Sean Connery as “The Player,” but Connery dropped out of the production in Mar 1989 due to a “throat ailment,” causing the production to be delayed, according to a 22 Mar 1989 Var item. At the time, production was expected to take place in Toronto, Canada. Richard Dreyfuss was announced as Connery’s replacement in the Var news item, and although the remaining cast members, including Robert Lindsay, Roger Rees, and the rock n’ roll performer, Sting, who was set to play “Hamlet,” were expected to join Dreyfuss, they were later replaced. On 14 Dec 1989, DV announced the casting of Tim Roth and Gary Oldman in the lead roles, as well as Joanna Miles and Ian Richardson.
       Principal photography began 8 Jan 1990, “in north central Yugoslavia,” as stated in production notes. Stoppard commented that the seven-week shooting schedule was three weeks too short and credited director of photography Peter Biziou with helping him complete the project on time. The bulk of filming took place at Zagreb, Yugoslavia’s Jadran Studios, and the remainder was shot at two different castles outside Zagreb, with Brezice Castle standing in as “the main hall of Castle Elsinore.” According to the 20 Feb 1991 LAT article, Stoppard had originally envisioned the opening scenes of the film on a seashore, but the shoreline of the Adriatic Sea did not match the location he originally scouted in Lake Ontario, Canada, so the director shot the sequence in a Zagreb cement quarry instead.
       In a 20 Dec 1989 brief, Var reported that Vangelis signed on to score the music for the film, but composer Stanley Myers was credited in the final version.
       Critical reception was mostly positive with high praise going to lead actors Tim Roth and Gary Oldham, whom Jeff Menell called “brilliant” and “perfectly cast” in the 8 Feb 1991 HR review. Stoppard’s direction was lauded by HR as well as the 24 Sep 1990 Var review, and in the 20 Feb 1991 LAT review, Michael Wilmington stated that, “at 53, [Stoppard] may be Britain’s most promising new filmmaker.”
       A 17 Sep 1990 DV article announced that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead won the Golden Lion, the top award at the Venice Film Festival, where it was in competition with Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990, see entry).
       The film marked Tom Stoppard’s feature motion picture directorial debut.

       End credits contain the following written statement: "Filmed on location in Yugoslavia with the co-operation of JADRAN FILM, Zagreb." Also in the end credits, the producers acknowledge the following organizations and individuals: Zdravko Mihalic; Jorge Gallegos; Adrian Scrope; Amblin; Howard Brownstein; Dean Stolber; Buckley Norris; Peter Rawley; and Peter Dally.


Academic Network University of Washington, Seattle; student: Rachel Graf [email protected]; Advisor: Jennifer M. Bean [email protected] . SBC 4/3/12. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
23 Dec 1988.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1968.
---
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1988.
---
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1989.
---
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 1991
p. 9, 50.
Los Angeles Times
20 Feb 1991
Calendar section, p. 1.
New York Times
8 Feb 1991
p. 14.
Theatre Crafts
Apr 1990.
---
Variety
4 Feb 1970.
---
Variety
9 May 1973.
---
Variety
17 Feb 1988.
---
Variety
1 Jun 1988.
---
Variety
22 Mar 1989.
---
Variety
20 Dec 1989.
---
Variety
24 Sep 1990
p. 83.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Tom Stoppard Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit mgr, Yugoslav crew
Asst dir, Yugoslav crew
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, Yugoslav crew
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Yugoslav crew
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op II
Focus puller
Focus puller, Yugoslav crew
Focus puller, Yugoslav crew
Clapper loader, Yugoslav crew
Clapper loader, Yugoslav crew
Key grip, Yugoslav crew
Grip, Yugoslav crew
Grip, Yugoslav crew
Gaffer
Gaffer, Yugoslav crew
Best boy
Best boy, Yugoslav crew
Gen op
Gen op
Elec, Yugoslav crew
Elec, Yugoslav crew
Elec, Yugoslav crew
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir, Yugoslav crew
Draftsman, Yugoslav crew
FILM EDITORS
1st asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst ed, Yugoslav crew
Asst ed, Yugoslav crew
Asst ed, Yugoslav crew
Ed trainee
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Asst const mgr
Const co-ord, Yugoslav crew
Const buyer, Yugoslav crew
Set dresser, Yugoslav crew
Propman, Yugoslav crew
Propman, Yugoslav crew
Prop buyer, Yugoslav crew
Prop buyer, Yugoslav crew
Swing gang, Yugoslav crew
Swing gang, Yugoslav crew
Stage hand, Yugoslav crew
Stage hand, Yugoslav crew
COSTUMES
Asst to the cost des
Cost supv, Yugoslav crew
Ward master, Yugoslav crew
Ward master, Yugoslav crew
Ward asst, Yugoslav crew
MUSIC
Addl mus
Addl mus
Synthesisers
Mus eng
Mus rec at
SOUND
Boom man, Yugoslav crew
Dubbing ed
Asst dubbing ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd re-rec at
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff, Yugoslav crew
Spec eff asst, Yugoslav crew
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Hair, Yugoslav crew
Hairdresser for Mr. Dreyfuss
Make up, Yugoslav crew
Make up, Yugoslav crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Mime choreog
Prod supv
Prod consultant, London
Scr supv
Puppet master
Loc mgr, Yugoslav crew
Prod co-ord, Yugoslav crew
Prod co-ord, London
Crowd marshall, Yugoslav crew
Prod secy, Yugoslav crew
Prod secy, Yugoslav crew
Transportation mgr, Yugoslav crew
Prod runner/Asst transportation mgr, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Driver, Yugoslav crew
Auditor, Yugoslav crew
Prod accountant, Yugoslav crew
Prod accountant, Los Angeles
Caterer, Yugoslav crew
Customs co-ord, Yugoslav crew
Asst to dir
Prod staff, Los Angeles
Prod staff, Los Angeles
Legal counsel for Michael Brandman and Emanuel Aze
Colton, Hartnick, Yamin and Sheresky
Legal counsel for Michael Brandman and Emanuel Aze
Colton, Hartnick, Yamin and Sheresky
Completion guarantee provided by
Prod financing provided by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead written by Tom Stoppard (Edinburgh, Aug 1966).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Seamus" taken from the album "Meddle," written by David Jon Gilmour, Nicholas Berkeley Mason, George Roger Waters and Richard William Wright, performed by Pink Floyd, courtesy of EMI Records UK Ltd.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Release Date:
8 February 1991
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 February 1991
Los Angeles opening: 20 February 1991
Production Date:
8 January--late February 1990 in Zagreb, Yugoslavia
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision cameras and Primo lenses supplied by Panavision Europe
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30638
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Denmark, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern travel through the woods on horseback, stopping along the way to eat. Rosencrantz flips a coin over one hundred times and it only lands on ‘heads,’ prompting the men to discuss probability; given Rosencrantz’s coin flipping has been seemingly unaffected by the rules of probability, Guildenstern comes to the conclusion that they may be experiencing “supernatural forces.” The two struggle to recall why they have embarked on their present journey and share vague recollections of being summoned, although they are not sure by whom. That evening, a traveling theater company approaches, and the lead Player offers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern a performance in exchange for money, suggesting that the actors will prostitute themselves for the right price. Abruptly, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find themselves inside Elsinore, a Danish castle. There, they are greeted by Claudius and Gertrude, the King and Queen of Denmark, both of whom have trouble correctly identifying Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by name. Claudius and Gertrude discuss the strange mental state of Getrude’s son Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Hamlet’s oldest friends, the King and Queen beseech them to find out what is bothering the prince. That afternoon, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern explore the castle in search of Hamlet, getting lost and moving in circles. They play a game of questions, wherein one man lobs a question to the other, who must also answer in question form. Outside, Guildenstern suggests that he and Rosencrantz role-play in preparation for their encounter with Hamlet, with Guildenstern pretending to be Hamlet and Rosencrantz asking him questions. However, Rosencrantz is confused by the exercise, partly because he is unsure whether his own name is ... +


In Denmark, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern travel through the woods on horseback, stopping along the way to eat. Rosencrantz flips a coin over one hundred times and it only lands on ‘heads,’ prompting the men to discuss probability; given Rosencrantz’s coin flipping has been seemingly unaffected by the rules of probability, Guildenstern comes to the conclusion that they may be experiencing “supernatural forces.” The two struggle to recall why they have embarked on their present journey and share vague recollections of being summoned, although they are not sure by whom. That evening, a traveling theater company approaches, and the lead Player offers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern a performance in exchange for money, suggesting that the actors will prostitute themselves for the right price. Abruptly, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find themselves inside Elsinore, a Danish castle. There, they are greeted by Claudius and Gertrude, the King and Queen of Denmark, both of whom have trouble correctly identifying Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by name. Claudius and Gertrude discuss the strange mental state of Getrude’s son Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Hamlet’s oldest friends, the King and Queen beseech them to find out what is bothering the prince. That afternoon, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern explore the castle in search of Hamlet, getting lost and moving in circles. They play a game of questions, wherein one man lobs a question to the other, who must also answer in question form. Outside, Guildenstern suggests that he and Rosencrantz role-play in preparation for their encounter with Hamlet, with Guildenstern pretending to be Hamlet and Rosencrantz asking him questions. However, Rosencrantz is confused by the exercise, partly because he is unsure whether his own name is Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. The men agree that their names have become hard to remember and consider re-assigning them so that further confusion might be avoided. After Rosencrantz successfully interrogates Guildenstern, acting as Hamlet, the two conclude that Hamlet is possibly upset because Claudius, who is Hamlet’s uncle, stole the prince’s rightful crown by hastily marrying Gertrude upon her husband’s death. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find Hamlet inside the castle, mimicking a chicken in front of Polonius, a member of the royal court. Upon seeing his friends, Hamlet suspects they were sent by Claudius and Gertrude, and Guildenstern confesses that they were. Regardless, Hamlet welcomes his friends to Elsinore and insists, despite the suspicions of his mother and uncle, that he is only crazy when the wind blows in a southerly direction. Polonius brings the traveling theater company to Elsinore, hoping to provide a diversion for Hamlet. The prince meets the acting troupe and requests that they perform The Murder of Gonzago, a play about a man who kills his brother and marries his widowed wife, hoping to expose Claudius’s immorality. The next day, the Player reprimands Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for abandoning his troupe’s performance in the woods, and the two explain that they had to come to Elsinore to ascertain the source of Hamlet’s mental instability. In turn, the Player informs them that Polonius believes Hamlet is in love with Ophelia, Polonius’s daughter, and lovesickness is the cause of the prince’s madness. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern watch a mid-day rehearsal of The Murder of Gonzago, and Guildenstern becomes upset that there are too many deaths in the play. Later, at a dress rehearsal, Hamlet bursts onto the stage, chasing Ophelia and yelling that there will be no more marriages at Elsinore. Claudius and Polonius arrive moments later, and Claudius declares that Hamlet should be sent away to England.
When the troupe performs The Murder of Gonzago for the royal court that evening, Claudius storms out. Arriving at the king and queen’s bedchamber, Hamlet argues with Gertrude, and accidentally stabs Polonius after mistaking him for Claudius. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find themselves on a ship, again unsure about where they are, or for what purpose they have been sent. Rosencrantz finds Hamlet sleeping in another room below deck and informs Guildenstern that the prince is also on board. Guildenstern reminds Rosencrantz of the letter they have been instructed to show to the British royalty upon their arrival in England, and, reading the letter, they realize that Claudius has sent Hamlet to be murdered. Deciding to ignore the letter's existence, Guildenstern re-seals it. Meanwhile, Hamlet overhears the discussion and later replaces the letter with a different one. Pirates attack the ship, and after a cannonball shoots through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s chamber below deck, they discover the acting troupe is also on board. After the pirate attack, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern search for Hamlet but find that the pirates have taken him. The two re-read the letter they are to deliver, finding that it now calls for their deaths instead of Hamlet's. In a quarrel with the Player over the importance of death, Guildenstern stabs the Player, who appears to die but ultimately reveals that the dagger was a prop. Carrying out the letter's instructions, the actors hang Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on the ship. Sometime later, an ambassador from England arrives at Elsinore with the news that Claudius’s orders have been carried out, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead; however, the ambassador realizes he is too late, finding Hamlet dead alongside the corpses of Gertrude, Claudius, and Ophelia.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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