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YMMV / Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The show could very well be one never-ending exercise of alternative character for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. From a couple of not-that-bright and sycophantic extras that nobody can tell apart, we get two men who are inquisitive, intelligent (in different ways), passionate, and in way over their heads.
    • Since Rosencrantz and Guidenstern never see or hear the scenes that reveal the method in Hamlet's madness, Hamlet seems particularly crazy in this version of the story.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • This story single-handedly turned Rosencrantz and Guildenstern into this for the original play. Many performances of Hamlet now include the duo as major characters (whereas previously they often used to be cut for being yet another set of minor characters), and they're arguably more popular and well-known than all the other characters other than Hamlet himself.
    • The play is occasionally even run back-to-back with Hamlet by some theatrical companies, who use the same actors for the same characters in each play. And even when they are not running the plays together, their appearances in Hamlet are sometimes staged to include in-jokes from the Stoppard play — such as having them enter flipping a coin, or Claudius accidentally calling them by each other's names and being corrected by Gertrude.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • After Guildenstern has exploded at Rosencrantz (again), this happens:
    ROS (humbly): It must be your dominant personality. (Almost in tears.) Oh, what's going to become of us!
    (And GUIL comforts him, all harshness gone.)
    GUIL: Don't cry... it's all right... there... there, I'll see we're all right.
    • Also, in the play:
      GUIL taps a hand, changes his mind, taps the other, and ROS inadvertently reveals that he has a coin in both fists.
      GUIL: You had money in both hands.
      ROS (embarrassed): Yes.
      GUIL: Every time?
      ROS: Yes.
      GUIL: What's the point of that?
      ROS (pathetic): I wanted to make you happy.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • At one point in the movie, a theater actor wakes up with a horse mask on his head. Looks familiar...
    • The "I've not been on boats" exchange, up to and including the fact that "We're on a boat" is flat out said, brings a certain Internet meme to mind.
  • Ho Yay:
    • There was a messenger. They were sent for. They woke up... together.
    • It's a cold, rainy, Northern European country ... during the Little Ice Age. There's a reason the "Xdogs night" term was coined.
    • Guildenstern giving Rosencrantz a cuddle to cheer him up.
      GUIL: Don't cry... it's all right... there... there, I'll see we're all right.
    • Advertisement:
    • The fact that their every conversation (that is not existential musings) makes them sound Like an Old Married Couple.
      ROS: Rhetoric! Game and match! (Pause.) Where's it going to end?
      GUIL: That's the question.
      ROS: It's all questions.
      GUIL: Do you think it matters?
      ROS: Doesn't it matter to you?
      GUIL: Why should it matter?
      ROS: What does it matter why?
      GUIL (teasing gently): Doesn't it matter why it matters?
      ROS: (rounding on him): What's the matter with you?
      GUIL: It doesn't matter.
    • The film especially accentuates this trope, with Rosencrantz constantly tugging on Guildenstern's arm, trying to get his attention, agreeing with everything he says, draping his arm around him, etc.
    • The play actually has more moments of these that didn't make it into the film.
      • They talk of home like they're living together:
        ROS: I want to go home.
        GUIL: Don't let them confuse you.
        ROS: I'm out of my step here –
        GUIL: We'll soon be home and high – dry and home – I'll –
        ROS: It's all over my depth –
        GUIL: I'll hie you home and –
        ROS: – out of my head –
        GUIL: – dry you high and –
      • When they're trying to establish the direction of the wind:
        GUIL: In that case, the origin. Trace it to its source and it might give us a rough idea of the way we came in – which might give us a rough idea of south, for further reference.
        ROS: It's coming up through the floor. (He studies the floor.) That can't be south, can it?
        GUIL: That's not a direction. Lick your toe and wave it around a bit.
        (ROS considers the distance of his foot.)
        ROS: No, I think you'd have to lick it for me.
        GUIL: I'm prepared to let the whole matter drop.
        ROS: Or I could lick yours, of course.
        GUIL: No thank you.
        ROS: I'll even wave it around for you.
        GUIL (down ROS's throat): What in God's name is the matter with you?
        ROS: Just being friendly.
      • This exchange that takes place on the ship bound for England:
        ROS: Well, shall we stretch our legs?
        GUIL: I don't feel like stretching my legs.
        ROS: I'll stretch them for you, if you like.
        GUIL: No.
        ROS: We could stretch each other's. That way we wouldn't have to go anywhere.
        GUIL (pause): No, somebody might come in.
    • Really, it's not surprising given the characters these two were based on.
    • Rosencrantz only begins to show interest in the Player's offer of "participation" after it's been revealed that the entire troupe of Tragedians are male. (Not to mention that his reaction in the bathhouse scene is ambiguous as to whether he's disturbed at having mistaken Alfred for a woman, or whether he knew all along and is simply embarrassed to have been caught looking.)
      • Actually, Alfred was introduced as "transvestite melodrama" right at the start, so Rosencrantz knows that Alfred's not a woman. Rosencrantz became interested only after he realised exactly what the Player was offering them. The character notes in the play clarifies:
      PLAYER: Now what precisely is your pleasure? (He turns to the TRAGEDIANS.) Gentlemen, disport yourselves. (The TRAGEDIANS shuffle into some kind of line.) There! See anything you like?
      ROS (doubtful, innocent): What do they do?
      PLAYER: Let your imagination run riot. They are beyond surprise.
      • And when he finally gets it:
      ROS (his voice has changed; he has caught on): Excuse me! You're not – ah – exclusively players, then?
  • Jerkass Woobie: Guildenstern smashes Rosencrantz and breaks down after losing Hamlet to the pirates.


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