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Daisy Ridley’s female retelling of Hamlet isn’t one for Shakespeare purists

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Hollie Richardson
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Daisy Ridley new film Ophelia

Shakespeare gets a shakeup in the new film adaptation of Ophelia, starring Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts.

2019 is a great year for feminist films, with Daisy Ridley leading the way with her return as Rey in Star Wars: Episode IX. But did you know that the actor is swapping sci-fi for Shakespeare this year, too? 

We all know the story of Hamlet, but Ophelia refreshes the Shakespearean tale from a female perspective, with Claire McCarthy as the film’s director.

The first trailer for the film has been released, with Ridley playing the titular role and Naomi Watts stepping into the role of Hamlet’s mother Gertrude. The reimagining is an adaptation of the book of the same name by young adult novelist Lisa M. Klein, which sees Ophelia narrate the tale.

It follows the rebellious lady-in-waiting from her first days in court as a child, leading up to when she grows up and starts a romance with Prince Hamlet. The death of Hamlet’s father causes his wits to unravel in a quest for vengeance, which leaves Ophelia to navigate the rules of power – struggling to choose between her true love and her own life. As we all know, things don’t turn out well, with Ophelia meeting her own girm end in the water. 

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Aesthetically, the film is undeniably a dark yet delightful hit, but the script hasn’t been too well received by critics. Variety called it a “feminist upending” while the Guardian described it as a “disastrous Hamlet reimagining” which sees Ophellia “floating about the palace and witnessing things”. Also, with its modernised dialogue, it’s perhaps not one for Shakespeare purists – but is that necessarily a bad thing?

Take a look at the trailer to see what you think.

Ophelia premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and will be released later this year. George MacKay plays Hamlet and Clive Owen stars as King Claudius, completing a pretty stellar cast. 

Images: Credit is: Courtesy of IFC Films / Sundance Institute

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Hollie Richardson

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