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Directed by Aki Kaurismäki

Finland 1987 86 mins. In Finnish

Deadpan humor abounds in this tongue-in-cheek noir adaptation of Shakespeare’s immortal Hamlet. When Hamlet (the delightfully named Pirkka-Pekka Petelius, munching incongruously on a slice of ham) happens upon his father’s deceased body, he soon finds himself unwillingly pulled into a brutal power struggle as his scheming uncle attempts to secure a monopoly on the Scandinavian rubber duck industry. Will Hamlet avenge his father’s death? Will he become the reigning king of rubber ducks? Does any of it really matter? Capitalizing on Hamlet’s ubiquity and the revered status it holds within the cultural lexicon, Kaurismäki takes every opportunity to revel in the absurdity of his characters’ feeble machinations—resulting in a film that, despite its best efforts, is strangely true to the spirit of its source material. “Kaurismäki keeps this wacky idea afloat with farcical plotting, deadpan humour and cryptic dialogue. The overall tone is pure B-movie, the exaggerated emotions and Timo Salminen’s glistening noir photography recalling Warners’ crime melodramas of the ’40s.”—Time Out London. In Finnish with English subtitles.

Films in this Program

Hamlet Act

Directed by Robert Nelson

Experimental filmmaker Robert Nelson brings his characteristic wit to this restaging of the famous “play rehearsal” scene from Hamlet, breaking