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Numerous cultural references to Hamlet (in film, literature, arts, etc.) reflect the continued influence of this play. Hamlet is one of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays, topping the list at the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1879, as of 2004.
The following list of plays including references to Hamlet is ordered alphabetically.
The comedy Fortinbras covers the beginnings of the Norwegian Prince Fortinbras's reign in Denmark immediately following the events of Hamlet. Fortinbras is experiencing difficulty assuming the crown; Horatio attempts to get Fortinbras to tell Hamlet's story; other characters (Hamlet, Polonius, Ophelia, etc.) haunt Fortinbras as ghosts.
Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet (1991), tells the story of a TV actor from Los Angeles who gets talked into doing Hamlet for Shakespeare in the Park in New York. He rents Shakespearean actor John Barrymore's old apartment, and is soon haunted by the ghost of Barrymore himself.
In the musical Something Rotten!Hamlet is the play that Nostradamus sees in the future as Shakespeare's biggest play, but instead of 'Hamlet', he misinterprets it to be called 'Omelette'.
Film and television
The following list is ordered alphabetically.
Egyptian director Youssef Chahine has included elements from Hamlet in his films. Alexandria... Why? (1978) feature performances of soliloquies from the play. In Alexandria Again and Forever (1990), Hamlet appears as a film within the film.
The 2006 Chinese film The Banquet (also known as Legend of the Black Scorpion) has a storyline loosely based on the story of Hamlet.
In the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back, Chewbacca tries to reassemble the body of the robot C-3PO. At one point, he holds C-3PO's head in much the same way that Hamlet is traditionally depicted as holding Yorick's skull. This reference was intentional on the part of the director.
In Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, Hamlet is strongly alluded to. The children's father is rehearsing the part of the Ghost for a production of the play when he dies, and then appears to Alexander later in the film as an actual ghost. The play's plot is also referenced in other ways, including Alexander's hatred for and confrontation with his new stepfather. A character explicitly tells Alexander that he is not Hamlet.
In the 2008 comedy Hamlet 2 a teacher creates a sequel to Hamlet in an effort to save his school's drama program. Apart from some of the names of his characters, there are very few similarities to the original.
The plot of the 2012 Indian Malayalam drama Karmayogi ("The Warrior") is adapted from Hamlet. According to Shakespeare scholar Poonam Trivedi, Shakespeare "has many affinities with an Indian 'classical vision of art'..."
In Soapdish, Jeffrey Anderson (Kevin Kline) expresses his desire to perform a One-Man Hamlet, which he justifies by saying the whole thing is happening in Hamlet's head, so you only need one actor.
Hamlet has been referenced in Doctor Who. In The Chase (1965), the Doctor and his companions watch as Francis Bacon gives Shakespeare the idea to write a play about Hamlet. In City of Death (1979), the Doctor claims to have written down Shakespeare's original draft of Hamlet due to the Bard's sprained wrist, but criticises the mixed metaphor "To take arms against a sea of troubles." In The Shakespeare Code (2007), the Doctor meets Shakespeare and quotes the play, saying "the play's the thing." Later on, Shakespeare coins the phrase "to be or not to be." The Doctor suggests he write it down, but Shakespeare remarks that it is "too pretentious."
The ninth chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses, commonly referred to as Scylla and Charybdis, is almost entirely devoted to a rambling discourse by Stephen Daedalus on Shakespeare, centering on the character Hamlet. As a character predicts more or less accurately in the very first chapter, "[Daedalus] proves by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father."
Gertrude and Claudius, a John Updike novel, serves as a prequel to the events of the play. It follows Gertrude from her wedding to King Hamlet, through an affair with Claudius, and its murderous results, up until the very beginning of the play.
Anton Chekhov wrote a feuilleton titled I am a Moscow Hamlet (1891), the mutterings of a gossip-mongering actor who contemplates suicide out of sheer boredom.
Jasper Fforde's novel Something Rotten includes Hamlet - transplanted from the BookWorld into reality - as a major character. This version of Hamlet frets about how audiences perceive him, complains about the performances of actors who have portrayed him, and at one point resolves to go back and change the play by killing Claudius in the beginning and marrying Ophelia.
David Bergantino's novel Hamlet II: Ophelia's Revenge, set in modern Denmark, portrays Ophelia rising from the dead to get revenge on Hamlet.
Nick O'Donohoe's 1989 science fiction novel Too Too Solid Flesh portrays a troupe of android actors designed specifically to perform Hamlet; when the androids' designer is murdered, the Hamlet android decides to investigate.
In Kyle Baker's 1996 graphic novel The Cowboy Wally Show, Cowboy Wally's masterpiece is the film Cowboy Wally's HAMLET, a modernized version produced in secret while Wally was in prison. He had planned to film Hamlet professionally, but was jailed for an unspecified offense, before he could cast actors, and so used his cell-mates for the cast.
David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest takes its name from Hamlet's speech about Yorick, and features a main character struggling with his uncle's influence following the suspicious death of his father.
John Marsden's Hamlet: A Novel is a reinterpretation of the original for young adults. It is set in Denmark and the characters keep their names, their personalities and their functions in the story.
There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot ... literally to astonish his son's weak mind.
Pamela Dean's novel Tam Lin prominently features a production of the play which her characters attend and discuss.
The book To Be or Not to Be by Ryan North uses the play as its core, rendering it as a branching narrative based on the Choose Your Own Adventure series and other gamebooks. The reader is able to follow the play's plot by following the "Yorick Skulls", or to take it in wildly different directions, including bypassing the story altogether.
"In the Halls of Elsinore", a short story by Brad C. Hodson, takes place in an Elsinore occupied by Fortinbras. Told from Horatio's point of view, the story is about a malignant presence that resides in Elsinore - the same presence that appeared to young Hamlet as his father.
Hair: The Tribal Love-Rock Musical (1967) by James Rado and Jerome Ragni, contains the song "What A Piece of Work Is Man", which is taken completely from Hamlet and set to music by Galt McDermott.
"Cruel to Be Kind" is a 1979 single by Nick Lowe. The title of the song is taken from Hamlet, Act III, Scene 4: "I must be cruel only to be kind. Thus bad begins and worse remains behind."
Steampunk band Abney Park recorded a song entitled "Dear Ophelia", in which the vocalist sings as Prince Hamlet, and apologizes to Ophelia for all the things he had done, even telling the story of his father, who died when "his brother crept out, and poured poison in his ear"
"Hey There Ophelia" is the thirteenth track off the album, This Gigantic Robot Kills by MC Lars. It features lyrics about Ophelia, Claudius, and Hamlet's father's ghost from Hamlet's point of view.
The Serbianhard rock band, Riblja ?orba, released an album entitled Ostalo je ?utanje (trans. "The Rest Is Silence") in 1996. Album features a track entitled "Ne?to je trulo u dr?avi Danskoj" (trans. "Something's Rotten in the State of Denmark"), the song itself referring to Serbia. Album cover features band's frontman Bora ?or?evi? holding a skull.
Richard Thompson, British singer/songwriter, sings a live version of the story of Hamlet on "The Life And Music Of - CD 4 - The Songs Pour Down Like Silver". The interpretation is not terribly serious ("Like a hole in the head, Denmark needed that prince").
^"Ngaio Marsh". www.ngaio-marsh.org.nz. NGAIO MARSH HOUSE & HERITAGE TRUST. Retrieved 2019. Alleyn thinks very frequently of Hamlet, perhaps his favourite Shakespearean play. When eaves-dropping on one occasion he observed wryly to Inspector Fox, "next stop, with Polonius behind the arras in a bedroom" (False Scent, Ch. VI), and when asked to give advice by one Miss Meade, Alleyn thinks of himself as "a mature Hamlet" (Killer Dolphin. Ch.9).
^Champlin, John Denison; Apthorp, William Foster (1899). Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians: Easter-Mystères. C. Scribner's Sons. p. 219. Retrieved 2019. Hamlet had been previously set to music, as Amleto, by Gasparini, Rome, 1705 ; Domenico Scarlatti, ib., 1715