Before I start on about the film, I feel the need to share the news of our impressive bottle count:
Yep, from the left that's a goodly drop of very nice 10 year old tawny, three bottles of white French stuff, two bottles of quite decently quaffable red French stuff and a large slug of peppermint Giff.
I should point out that Mrs The Millbrooker and I don't drink white; so that goes some way to explaining the merriment on the sofa in the background as the two white wine slurpers hurl rude comments at each other. I'm not entirely sure quite what Frankenkeith had said to the Little Lush Lewis at the moment before the camera flashed but it must have been at least a wee bit amusing.
Anyway - the film.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are minor characters in Hamlet and the film concerns the goings on at Elsinore as seen through their bewildered and genial eyes. I'll admit here that despite my frequent attempts to make myself appear as something of a culture vulture, I've never read nor seen Hamlet; so it's possible that I missed out on some of the nuances in the screenplay.
The eponymous heroes are played by Tim Roth and Gary Oldman with the running joke that neither they nor anyone else can remember which is Rosencrantz and which is Guildenstern. It's essentially a two handed show with outstanding support from Richard Dreyfuss as the leader of a group of travelling players. Iain Glen gets every serious actor's dream gig and gets to play Hamlet, which he carries off with a degree of sincerity essential to successfully act as foil to the comedic antics of R & G and the outrageous theatrical foppery of Dreyfuss's The Player.
Roth and Oldman are at the peak of their considerable talents and are genuinely funny; the on-screen chemistry between them is palpable and their characterisations of the contrary R & G are a joy to watch.
Stoppard's script is witty, erudite and full of sly references to other works and he's inserted several running jokes; including having the Oldman character (Rosencrantz? Guildenstern?) almost make several of the most important discoveries in the field of physical science before being distracted and forgetting all about whatever he's just done. At one point, he seems to invent the hamburger or club sandwich as well...
There's an abundance of good old-fashioned vaudeville cross-talk comedy, plenty of knowing theatrical ham and more laughs per minute than most comedies I've sat through. I have to recommend this one very highly - all of the film clubbers enjoyed it hugely, even those of us with no real knowledge of Hamlet (me).
So Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are indeed dead, it says so in the script; but it seems the art of witty scripting and great acting are not.