Ordinary stardom: the tragic duality of Julia Stiles's Ophelia.
The Stoli ad campaign builds on the idea of originality by posting the following criteria on its website:
It's not about [her] fame or fortune. It's that [she] dare[s] to challenge convention, unafraid to break new ground. [She's] bold enough to attempt things that most say couldn't, or even shouldn't, be done--and [she's] passionate enough to achieve them. But most of all, [she has] truly lived life. (3)
According to this description, Julia Stiles somehow transcends her acting career, her media presence, and the money she has made from her work. She is seen as someone who breaks the rules in order to pursue her dreams and who is world-wise and daring. She represents a certain type of young female celebrity, someone who is self-aware, passionate, intelligent, and bold. Even when she is criticized for her choice of roles or her public statements, Stiles nevertheless has a sense of humor about her image, as the Stoli campaign demonstrates: as a down-to-earth and respected artist, she can challenge the integrity of her Hollywood-starlet side. She can admit to loving money as long as she acknowledges that such pursuits are subject to criticism.
The commercial plays on the dual nature of Julia Stiles, which has become a part of the image she has cultivated since becoming an actress at a young age. On the one hand, the "serious actress" has played three of Shakespeare's most iconic women in a trilogy of teen films that launched her career: The Taming of the Shrew's Katherine (Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You), Othello's Desdemona (Desi in O), and Ophelia in Hamlet. (4) Stiles has a thriving stage career and has formed a close partnership with writer David Mamet, and she has worked to build a reputation based upon her work ethic, not her social life. On the other hand, she is a product of Hollywood who confessed in 2011 that she ran out of money in Cuba because she was unaccustomed to operating on a cash-only budget, (5) who has made lots of money by starring in big Hollywood blockbusters, and whose most recent Golden Globe nomination was for her work on the Showtime television series Dexter. (6) Julia Stiles is simultaneously the glamorous actress and the fresh-faced girl next door, the big-time star and the independent artist, the earnest scholar and the self-deprecating prankster, the upscale shopper and the outdoorsy philanthropist. She is a self-proclaimed feminist whose movies have been criticized for promoting antifeminist agendas and a teen star who has transitioned into grown-up roles, evolving from an MTV Movie Award-winning teen icon to a sophisticated actress who greets criticism with self-parody. Stiles demonstrates the careful balance between career and personal life, past and present, that together control her star image. In playing Shakespeare's female icons, Stiles's star image works with and against Katherine, Desdemona, and Ophelia, who in her portrayal are made young and vulnerable agents grappling with patriarchal control. On-screen, Stiles brings an immediacy to these heroines, relating them to contemporary concerns about the role of young women in society; her star presence adds to the commercial viability of these films while offering contradictory views of Shakespeare's characters.
Over a decade after becoming a household name with her starring role as Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You, Julia Stiles's career continues to be shaped by her relationship with Shakespeare, who helped to make her "an icon of teen femininity." (7) But whereas many scholars have discussed her portrayal of Kat in 10 Things and, to a lesser extent, of Desi in O, none have focused extensively on Stiles's portrayal of Ophelia in Michael Almereyda's Hamlet. The role is important, though, because in the film the dualistic and divided nature of Stiles's stardom filters into her portrayal of one of Shakespeare's most tragic heroines. Stiles presents a conflicted and contradictory Ophelia, who is torn between filial duty and the desire for an independent life and who gestures toward rebellion but is unable to defy her father. Stiles's Ophelia is more central to Hamlet's story than her counterpart in Shakespeare's play, and yet many of her lines are cut, leaving her more silent. Stiles's acting and her stardom fill in these silences, adding depth to the character and demanding that she be noticed, so that her suicide becomes even more tragic than the death of Shakespeare's Ophelia. The duality of Stiles's stardom becomes an important aspect of Stiles's Ophelia by showing how difficult it is to balance a multifaceted career and a personal life; Ophelia becomes, in Stiles's portrayal, a young woman who self-destructs when she finds herself unable to balance her competing desires for independence, romantic love, and familial approval. The Stoli campaign calls Stiles an "original" because of her willingness to embrace life, to take risks, and to achieve her desires. In contrast, Ophelia moves in the opposite direction: away from life, risk, and desire. Her iconicity runs counter to Stiles's image, which is full of life and vitality. If Ophella continues to circulate in public consciousness, it is largely through her madness and death, romanticized most famously on canvas by John Millais, but also by critics who claim she achieves subjectivity and agency only after she has gone mad. (8) In the events leading up to her breaking point, Ophelia is largely void; she requires a critic, an artist, or an actress to add meaning and depth to her character. (9)
Examining Stiles as a star-text fills this void by offering a particular way of reading the character. In Stars, film theorist Richard Dyer uses semiotics to examine the ways in which stars' lives intersect with the characters they play. (10) A star's polysemy, or "the multiple but finite meanings and effects that a star image signifies," (11) is determined by a combination of the star's publicly available image--accessed via interviews, articles, press releases, public appearances, tabloid reporting, personal websites or social networking pages, and other media texts--and the star's other roles, which together can affect an audience's interpretation of a particular character. A star's roles do not always match exactly with her image, but they do rely on elements of her image and stardom to create a particular character on screen. "From the structured polysemy of the star's image," Dyer argues, "certain meanings are selected in accord with the overriding conception of the character in the film." (12) According to this theory, characters can be analyzed and understood based on certain performance signs and on the theorist's understanding of the star's image. Julia Stiles contributes to the characterization of Ophelia based on not only her acting but also her star presence: "As regards the fact that a given star is in the film, audience foreknowledge, the star's name and his/her appearance (including the sound of her/his voice and dress styles associated with him/her) all already signify that condensation of attitudes and values which is the star's image." (13) Julia Stiles's presence already offers a certain set of "attitudes and values" based upon her star image, and her performance in Hamlet adds to the construction of Ophelia. Audiences blend this foreknowledge with their foreknowledge of and opinions or expectations about Ophelia (whether from a literary, theatrical, and/or filmic point of view), and Stiles's portrayal (along with Almereyda's screenplay and direction) will go along with these preconceptions, negate them, or combine them in some way. In an age of celebrity culture, then, Shakespeare's female icons operate on many levels, blending audience expectations of both the character and the star who plays her. In the case of Julia Stiles, this foreknowledge includes the range of meanings associated with her image, a combination of the other roles she has played--particularly her other Shakespearean characters--and her publicly available private life.
Julia Stiles's biography shows a driven young woman who began acting and writing at a young age but whose early success came from her relationship with Shakespeare; this success continues to influence her career and her media presence. After performing onstage, in commercials, and in several movies, Stiles starred as Kat Stratford in 10 Things; the film, released just after the actress's eighteenth birthday, established her as a star. Her association with teen Shakespeare was cemented with O and Hamlet, and she proved her financial viability with the popular Save the Last Dance. (14) Like her peer Claire Danes, Stiles continues to be associated with Shakespeare and with a certain ideal of female intelligence, and both actresses have been praised for their transitions from teen stardom to more mature roles. As an adult, Stiles has performed in big Hollywood films (the Bourne trilogy; Mona Lisa Smile), smaller independent films (The Business of Strangers; The Cry of the Owl), stage plays (Oleanna; Fat Pig), and television (Dexter). (15) The Stiles biography found on the Stoli web site summarizes the aspects of her life and work that appear in most other media accounts. Under the banner "Award-Winning Actress," the page mentions her recent work on Dexter, her talent, her four Shakespearean roles (including Viola in New York's Shakespeare in the Park), her other starring roles alongside well-known actors, her various film awards and nominations, her stage credits, and her college degree from Columbia University. She is a celebrity who garners attention for her talent and her ability to adapt to new projects, which in turn enhances her image. In Big-Time Shakespeare, Michael Bristol considers Shakespeare's presence in contemporary popular culture: "In an odd way the striking adaptability of Shakespeare within the market for cultural goods and services tends to confirm the vernacular intuition that his works have some real social worth and importance above and beyond their contingent market value." (16) Julia Stiles, I argue, operates in a similar fashion for those wishing to exploit her star status. Her variety of roles and presence across different media cultivates the idea that she is important for more than just the characters she plays (the Stoli "original"), and in turn her characters benefit from the image she has cultivated.
Part of this image includes both intelligence and ordinariness. Known for her "fierce intelligence" and labeled "the thinking girl's movie star," Stiles chooses roles that feature smart women (her Shakespeare characters, an Ivy-League bound student in The Prince and Me, one of the school's brightest pupils in Mona Lisa Smile, an intelligence officer in the Bourne movies, and so on). (17) Stiles publishes her opinions about not only the roles she chooses to play but also other issues she finds important, such as the difficulties facing immigrant children detainees, the joys of cheering for her favorite baseball team, the New York Mets, and the challenges of traveling in Cuba. (18) In her personal blog, "You Know My Steez," Stiles posts pictures of her travels, videos she has made, and short fictional pieces she has written. (19) She talks about political issues, addresses critical responses to her work and her published articles, and promotes her latest projects. The blog adds to the image of Stiles as intelligent, pop culture-savvy, world-wise, and humorous, and it invites fans to communicate with her directly by commenting on her posts. In this way, Stiles appears approachable, but the content reminds readers that she is not like them: she is a star with access to people, places, and experiences beyond the realm of most ordinary people. Like Shakespeare, whose works continue to be considered elitist and canonical while also circulating in popular culture in an ever-widening understanding of "Shakespeare," Stiles is both accessible and inaccessible, an Ivy League-educated actress who depends on popular favor to retain her significance and maintain her career.
Despite Stiles's overall positive image in the press, her choice of roles and her personal remarks have drawn her into a feminist debate about the social roles and responsibilities of women in the media, a debate that recalls scholarly discussions of Ophelia's changing signification. Several of Stiles's films have proved problematic for critics and scholars, particularly for how they portray women. For instance, in 2004, Guardian reporter Zoe Williams "spent ages trying to make her [Stiles] criticize Mona Lisa Smile" because, to Williams, the film--in which Stiles plays a character who chooses to get married rather than attend law school--is "smaltzy," "sentimental," and "formulaic," while its 1950s setting promotes "retrogressive" ideas about women. (20) Williams was not the only person to criticize the film along these lines, but Stiles defended it, both in this interview and elsewhere, even going so far as to publish a defense of the film in the same newspaper. Stiles claims that contrary to what critics say, the film does have feminist undertones, but because of its date--"the period just prior to the publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique"--she argues that "to show a group of young women in the 1950s so quickly ascribing to a modern sense of empowerment would be historically inaccurate. Critics of such movies have to watch them in the context of the gradual progression of the women's movement." (21) Toward the end of the article, Stiles notes, "Ironically, the F word [feminism] is now pejorative in the mainstream because it is seen to represent a woman's renunciation of her femininity. ... [W]omen of my generation have not employed self-censorship, but rather we challenge the notion that being a feminist is in opposition to being feminine." Stiles alludes to the stereotypical idea that all feminists are bra-burning militants, and she asserts that feminists can and should embrace their femininity, balancing the dualisms of home and career, appearance and intelligence.
Many have been critical of Stiles's attitude toward feminism because it oversimplifies the movement, despite her knowledge of its history and her self-identification as a feminist; but perhaps the problem lies not so much with Stiles's ideas about feminism as with how the feminist movement has been perceived in the public eye. In her article on the Shakespearean teen films 10 Things and She's the Man, Jennifer Clement outlines the problem with recent representations of feminism in the media and on film by arguing that these two films "exploit the generational divide between second and third-wave feminism in order to ridicule both forms of feminism and to suggest that feminism in general is outdated, irrelevant, and even harmful." (22) The media, she argues, tends to exploit the differences between feminists, including those associated with the second and third waves, while the public perception of feminism differs from how feminists represent themselves. "Shakespeare's work," Clement concludes, "continues to be invoked as the basis for conservative critiques of feminism that oversimplify feminist debates and market the movement as, at best, irrelevant, and at worst, harmful for teenage girls." (23) Stiles, by playing Shakespeare's characters in contemporary films and by speaking publicly about feminism, is subject to the kinds of criticism that Clement describes.
In the most comprehensive essay on Julia Stiles to date, Elizabeth Deitchman highlights the association between Stiles, Shakespeare, and feminism. Focusing on Stiles's image in relation to her three Shakespearean film roles, Deitchman argues that Stiles represents "a clearly defined ideal of American girlhood based on her appearance, achievements, and personality." (24) This image is restrictive, however, when viewed within the context of her films: "Together Stiles and Shakespeare sell a disturbing image of American teen girlhood, an image based on and perpetuating idealized representations of race, class, and gender." (25) The essay aligns Stiles with the 1990s "Girl Power" movement, which Deitchman argues is "sold to girls as strength and empowerment" but which "is really about preserving patriarchal values, and particularly about protecting heterosexual masculinity." (26) In 10 Things, she argues, Stiles's character Kat Stratford initially identifies with the more blatantly political Riot Grrrl movement, but both she and the film move toward a "deranged version of Girl Power," which Deitchman views as repressive and ultimately silencing. (27) Deitchman criticizes Stiles's own views toward feminism, arguing that Stiles is "a responsible Girl Power icon" who does not want to be perceived as a bitch or a "man-hating feminazi" but who instead "carefully regulates her self-expression" in order to preserve her reputation. (28) This Girl Power iconicity leads to Deitchman's assertion that Stiles's subsequent portrayals of Ophelia and Desi (Desdemona) rely heavily on her "Good Girl" image and her whiteness, which together stress the characters' sexual purity. The essay does an excellent job of discussing Stiles's image, and mostly I agree with Deitchman's conclusions about these films, particularly that 10 Things and O uphold hegemonic values and present restrictive views of Shakespeare's heroines.
I cannot agree, however, that all of Stiles's films should be read the same way, especially when the primary text for this analysis is 10 Things, a film that lends itself to criticism based on its deliberate presentation of feminist issues, nor do I think it's entirely fair for critics to attack Stiles herself for not conforming to their versions of feminism. I am not saying that critics' remarks about Stiles's films and her public statements are wrong; rather, I am trying to push for another way of understanding her image beyond this one issue. When examining the star-text of Julia Stiles, it is important to acknowledge the contradictions of her image and the ways these contradictions contribute to the characters she plays--particularly Ophelia, a character more restricted by Shakespeare's text than, say, his comic heroines. Williams summarizes the complexity of Stiles's star image by describing the actress as "a strange mix... independent but not as radical as you'd think she's going to be, or certainly not outdoors; very articulate and clear, but at the same time unreadable; with bona fide screen idol looks, but the bolshie yet self-effacing manner of a girl who's only ever been appreciated for her quick darning and Latin declension." (29) The Stiles image, then, is both clearly defined and elusive--the star likes to surprise people, but she remains in the public eye a beautiful, intelligent woman whose ambition is matched by a tendency to self-censor in order to remain likeable. This duality, established early in Stiles's career, carries over into Stiles's portrayal of Ophelia, who takes on similar qualities in Almereyda's film. Critics such as Carol Chillington Rutter, (30) Christy Desmet, (31) and Richard Finkelstein (32) suggest that Ophelia's subjectivity begins at the point of her madness or death, but I argue that it begins much earlier in Almereyda's film: the moment Julia Stiles appears on-screen as Ophelia, her star presence invites viewers to see her as something more. Specifically, the dualisms of Stiles's youth and maturity, her intelligence and ordinariness, work with the idea that she is both a contemporary teen and an iconic screen presence, in order to make Ophelia resonate with modern audiences. Although Stiles herself is no longer a teenager and the film was released over a decade ago, the actress's media presence continues to move along a trajectory established early in her career; her continued success adds further complexity to her Ophdia, particularly when we view the character within the context of a film that emphasizes Hamlet's and Ophelia's struggles with figures of authority and their nostalgic desire for an idealized past.
Set in modern-day Manhattan while retaining Shakespeare's words, Almereyda's Hamlet focuses on its youthful characters and their experiences within the fast-paced and technology-driven world of corporate America. In the preface to his screenplay of Hamlet (2000), Michael Almereyda remarks that even though he originally resisted the idea of adapting Hamlet, which already existed in "dozens of versions" on film, he kept "thinking back to [his] first impressions of the play, remembering its adolescence-primed impact and meaning... the rampant parallels between the melancholy Dane and [Almereyda's own] many doomed and damaged heroes and imaginary friends: James Agee, Holden Caulfield, James Dean. ..." (33) From its inception, the film was an act of nostalgia, as its director sought to create an adaptation that resonated with his own memories of the play and of his childhood heroes. At the time Almereyda began his project, no actor under the age of thirty had played Hamlet on-screen, and most were over forty. Almereyda wished to "entrust the role to an actor in his twenties," for "[t]he character takes on a different cast when seen more dearly as an abandoned son, a defiant brat, a narcissist, a poet/film-maker/perpetual grad student--a radiantly promising young man who doesn't quite know who he is." (34) He chose twenty-seven-year-old Ethan Hawke to play the lead, and the two collaborated "to see how thoroughly Shakespeare can speak to the present moment, how they can speak to each other." (35) Their goal was to create a film that incorporated their own experiences with the play, to use Shakespeare's text to create something personally meaningful and modern, to infuse it with a youthful perspective.
Both Almereyda and Hawke claim to be influenced by characters from popular culture, both fictional and real, whom they see as modern incarnations of Hamlet. According to Hawke,
the reason Hamlet comes off so annoying, infantile, and self-indulgent is that the guy playing him is ten to twenty years too old for the part. He is a bright young man struggling deeply with his identity, his moral code, his relationship to his parents and with his entire surrounding community. These are archetypal young man's concerns. Hamlet was always much more like Kurt Cobain or Holden Caulfield than Sir Laurence Olivier. (36)
In other words, Hamlet is a young man whose problems stem from his relationship with various figures of authority, including himself, his parents, and the community at large. Neither Almereyda in his preface to the screenplay nor Hawke in his introduction focuses on Ophelia, but their youthful emphasis affects her character as well, particularly in the casting of a young and promising star. In his notes to the screenplay, Almereyda praises Stiles's performance: "Julia Stiles, at seventeen, had an uncanny ability to intimidate almost everyone on the set. Her calm seriousness, a sense of unbudgeable inner gravity, could be beautifully unsettling." (37) Despite all of this, the tendency of both Almereyda and Hawke, who ignore Ophelia--as well as critics writing about the film, who focus on Hamlet, on the film's use of technology, or on more broadly generational concerns while scarcely acknowledging Ophelia-demonstrates the ways in which the character fades into the background, emerging through the performance signs of Stiles's star-text. (38)
From her first appearance on-screen, Stiles's presence invites comparisons between her star image and the character she plays. According to Dyer, appearance--including physiognomy, dress, and the star's image--"indicates" a character's "personality, with varying degrees of precision" and provides nonverbal clues about that character's interiority. (39) At the time Hamlet was made, Stiles was described in the media as a "flesh-faced blonde" and a "fresh-faced star." (40) On film, she "casually plays against her luminescent pre-Raphaelite glow," while in everyday life, she "looks more student than starlet. With her snug tee, drawstring capris, slip-on sneakers, and I-pulled-an-all-nighter tousled hair, she could pass for an average Ivy Leaguer." (41) The comparison demonstrates how the Stoli depiction of glamorous starlet versus casual girl-next-door was already at work early in her career, while her mix of intelligence and ordinariness implies that Ivy League students--like film stars--are average, despite their elite social position. Another interviewer notes, "Her physical beauty offers instant gratification, but it's icing on a cake whose ingredients include smarts, wit, and ambition." (42) Julia Stiles's physical appearance is carefully designed to shift the focus to her mental abilities, and Ophelia's overall look resembles Stiles's own wardrobe, sparse makeup, and long wavy hair of the late 1990s (which also resembles her style in films such as 10 Things, O, and Save the Last Dance)--baggy pants, tiny tee shirts, and hooded sweatshirts. Because of this, the audience is prompted to hold similar expectations about Ophelia's "smarts, wit, and ambition." The similarities between the actress's and the character's appearances help to transform and update Shakespeare's Ophelia from an early modern daughter to a late twentieth-century teenager.
This is not to suggest, however, that Ophelia somehow becomes a screen version of Stiles herself, a Shakespearean doppelgainger of the young actress. Because Ophelia's character does not match exactly with the overall image of Julia Stiles, Almereyda's film employs what Dyer calls a "problematic fit" between the star and the character. The contradictions between Stiles and Ophelia add pathos to the character by suggesting the type of woman she could become. Ophelia, like Stiles herself, can be dualistic and difficult, but unlike the actress, who appears to thrive on challenging situations and who is a model of female independence, the character is unable to balance competing desires or to handle the pressures of her life. Shakespeare's Ophelia submits to her father's authority and participates in an adult plot to spy on Hamlet; those who wish to discuss her independence and rebellion typically limit their analysis to Ophelia's madness. Throughout the film, Stiles's Ophelia resists male attempts to control her through facial expressions and gestures, but Shakespeare's text mandates her break from Hamlet, her descent into madness, and her death by drowning. Stiles's star-presence adds to these plot points by depicting an Ophelia whose creative potential is stifled but not always silenced; she becomes a young woman for whom suicide is not only a way to escape personal tragedy but also a final reckless act of self-expression.
As befits a young woman in modern-day Manhattan, Stiles's Ophelia lives alone, occupies her time with photography, and does not appreciate her father's and brother's attempts to meddle in her personal life. Although it is unclear whether she is financially independent, is a student, or has a job, this Ophelia is nonetheless more in control of her own destiny than her counterpart in Shakespeare's play. She actively pursues a relationship with Hamlet, who appears to be her only friend and confidante. As Barbara Hodgdon points out, Almereyda cuts many of Ophelia's lines, but rather than reducing the part, his screenplay and Stiles's performance expand on it. (43) The film inserts Ophelia into scenes in which she does not appear in the play, and several nonverbal scenes situate her in various Manhattan locations, where she is typically alone: when not with her father, brother, or Hamlet, she is shown riding her bicycle through the busy city streets, waiting for Hamlet at a fountain, or developing photographs in her apartment. Ophelia appears in several of Hamlet's Pixelvision video diaries, to which he returns throughout the film, and in his story montage at the end of the film. The film thus expands the role to make Ophelia one of the most important characters in the film, whose intimate relationship with Hamlet becomes a key component of the plot. In this way, Ophelia becomes an independent young woman comfortable navigating city streets or being filmed when alone with her boyfriend, but her frequent silences suggest a hidden inner life that she cannot express. Ophelia carries with her the complexities of Stiles's star-text, recalling Williams's assessment of her as "independent but not as radical as you'd think she's going to be... articulate and clear, but at the same time unreadable." (44) Ophelia appears approachable and sympathetic; she wears the clothing and hairstyle of other young women of her generation, and she experiences the problems of dating and family life that appear in Stiles's other film narratives (for example, both Desi in O and Ophelia are in relationships of which their fathers disapprove, and Kat in 10 Things has experienced male rejection, as Ophelia will). But Ophelia is also "unreadable" because the script limits her words, and audiences are left to infer what she is thinking through Stiles's gestures and expressions.
In her career choices and in interviews, Stiles embraces challenging roles and controversial characters, but she also feels the need to defend her choices: Mona Lisa Smile is one example. Similarly, her Ophelia projects an air of unconcern but is deeply affected by what people think of her. During the press conference scene in which Claudius discusses his marriage (1.2, a scene in which Ophelia does not appear in the play), Ophelia divides her attention among Hamlet, Claudius, her father Polonius and brother Laertes, and a small gold packet on which she has drawn a picture of a waterfall and a time, "3:30?". Her self-consciousness is apparent as she glances around to see whether Hamlet is watching her, and she rolls her eyes in frustration when Laertes refuses to pass Hamlet the packet. After the press conference, Ophelia and Hamlet break away from the group, but first Polonius and then Laertes assert their control over her by interrupting the couple's whispered conversation. Throughout the scene Ophelia appears small and controlled, torn between Hamlet, who occupies her attention, and her father and brother, who both seem uneasy about the relationship and who listen to Claudius halfheartedly because they are so concerned about keeping Ophelia away from Hamlet. Stiles's youthful face and her movements show not only Ophelia's stubbornness--she makes sure Hamlet notices her and she breaks away from the group to talk to him--but also her vulnerability as she is physically pulled between her family and her boyfriend. This vulnerability resurfaces when later she sits alone at the waterfall fountain, looking around and struggling to fight back tears: Hamlet has missed their rendezvous. The sequence reveals Ophelia's alienation and her inability to control her life, which is constantly negotiated by the men around her: she speaks to no one but Hamlet and appears trapped by her family. The camera's frequent reaction shots of Ophelia ensure the character's primacy in the film's narrative, while Stiles, who became famous playing one of Shakespeare's most iconic female characters, ensures the character will be noticed. Stiles's ability to convey emotion wordlessly, coupled with her reputation as an intelligent young woman, evoke sympathy for her character as the narrative progresses and her alienation becomes more pronounced.
Ophelia's nonverbal cues work to show her vulnerability as well as her resistance to male efforts to control her. In Shakespeare's 1.3, Laertes warns Ophelia against becoming too involved with Hamlet because his future may not include her. The film follows this scene closely, but Stiles's gestures work with objective correlatives to show her as a young woman pulled between nostalgia for the past and hope for a future with Hamlet. According to Dyer, particular objects both "reflect or express character" and "may also reveal personality by the character's attitude to and 'control' over things." (45) In Hamlet, Stiles's Ophelia is a photographer and appears in several scenes with her camera, her photographs, or a box containing notes, photographs, and other mementos of her relationship with Hamlet. The film's version of 1.3 begins with a shot of an old black-and-white photo of a young Hamlet, crouched in a closet beneath men's jackets, presumably his father's closet. He holds an old camera and looks straight ahead, his gaze just to the left of the lens. Ophelia holds this photo, studying it while her brother lectures her about its subject. The photo works on several levels: it suggests that Ophelia's relationship with Hamlet is longer lasting and deeper than Laertes would like to believe; it represents Ophelia's art, which enables her to control the images she produces; and it becomes a symbol of Ophelia's nostalgia for her relationship with Hamlet. As Ophelia's main creative outlet, photography symbolizes the competing goals of personal expression and hiding from the world behind her camera, of rebellion versus filial duty. Photography also represents Ophelia's future, which would afford her independence should she choose to pursue it as a career, as well as her nostalgia for an idealized past--an idea that saturates the film and foreshadows the tragedy because its characters are so consumed by the past that they are unable to imagine the future.
In addition to demonstrating this pull between the past and the future, the scene shows the contradictions of Ophelia's character as filtered through Stiles's startext. As the scene opens, Ophelia and Laertes sit in their father's apartment; she examines the photograph while Laertes speaks: "Perhaps he loves you now, / and now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch / the virtue of his will" (1.3.14-6). (46) Ophelia does not look at her brother but, in profile, chews her gum and fingers the photograph with blue-tipped nails, showing her preference for Hamlet and her art over lectures by her brother. When Laertes suggests that Hamlet cannot continue to love her because "his will is not his own / For he himself is subject to his birth," she sighs, looks at the ceiling in frustration, puts down the photograph, and begins to pace the room, still not looking at her brother (1.3.17-18). Stiles's body language and facial expressions show Ophelia's resistance to Laertes's words. She paces the room, agitated, before sitting again, and when she does look at her brother, her expression is blank and emotionless. But when Laertes warns her not to get too close to Hamlet, or else she may "lose [her] heart, or [her] chaste treasure open / To his unmastered importunity," she grows still and stares straight ahead as he tells her to "fear it" (1.3.31-3). Her pained expression echoes the sadness she showed at the fountain. Rather than fearing for a future act that could threaten her honor, Ophelia appears to reflect on Hamlet's recent distance and the changing nature of their relationship.
According to Laertes, the real cause for fear, however, is not an uncertain future but is instead something more personal, dependent upon her age: "Youth to itself rebels," Laertes concludes, "though none else near" (1.3.44). Inherent in youth, he says, is rebellion, but for an adolescent female, rebellion is to be avoided at all costs. Elsewhere in the play, rebellion is gendered: Hamlet connects rebellion, youth, and sexual desire with an absence of virtue when he confronts his mother in her closet: "O shame, where is thy blush? / Rebellious hell ..." (3.4.81ff). In this sense, the sexual nature of rebellion (for women, at least) is perverse and corruptive, able to ruin a woman who has no shame. Ophelia should fear rebellion because it can sneak up on her, and it can destroy her. Stiles's Ophelia bristles at her brother's admonition about rebellion. Her response to him is incredulous and self-assured, and Stiles's knitted eyebrows, raised chin, and expressive eyes connote her annoyance at the double standard and recall Stiles-as-Kat's facial expression in 10 Things when she tells her father and sister that she will not date high school boys like her archenemy Joey Donner because they are "miscreants." In both films, Stiles's character asserts her right to choose whom and when to date. Here, she tells Laertes that she will keep "the effect of this good lesson"--being wary of Hamlet's intentions--as long as Laertes holds himself to the same standard of sexual responsibility (1.3.45). Like the outspoken Stiles who defends her definition of feminism, Ophelia will not abide a double standard. Stiles conveys with a simple look an Ophelia who may concede to keep Laertes's warnings in mind, but who will do so on her own terms. Although Shakespeare's text mandates that Ophelia listen to her family's advice regarding Hamlet, Stiles's nonverbal responses show that early modern ideas about female chastity and submission to male authority are problematic in modern times. Despite her resistance to some of Laertes's words, however, Ophelia listens to him and to her father, whose authority she continues to respect.
Almereyda's film replaces Shakespeare's 2.1 with a scene in Ophelia's apartment that highlights her potential independence and her conflicted desire for Hamlet's love and her father's approval. Shakespeare's scene includes Ophelia's longest speech and strengthens the father-daughter relationship by stressing her dependence on him to analyze Hamlet's strange behavior; Polonius apologizes to his daughter, telling her that he misunderstood Hamlet's intentions. Deleting Shakespeare's scene loosens the bond between Ophelia and Polonius, while the added scene shifts the focus to the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia. This relationship represents Ophelia's desire to regain a childhood companion while allowing her to rebel, should she ignore her family's warnings. Instead of the conversation between Ophelia and Polonius, Almereyda provides a sequence that builds on Ophelia's relationship with Hamlet,
shows her private personal life, and stresses her contradictory desire to pursue her relationship with Hamlet while also submitting to her father's authority; Stiles's ges tures emphasize this pull between independence and filial duty. The sequence shows Hamlet, in the wake of a visit by his father's ghost, deciding to reach out to Ophelia. After watching old footage of her on his camera, he sits in a coffee shop struggling to write her a love letter ("Doubt thou the stars are fire... but never doubt I love" [2.2.115-8]). Hamlet takes it to Ophelia's apartment, a cozy, bohemian flat located in an old building across from a discount supermarket. He finds her absorbed in her work, developing photographs at the back of her dimly lit apartment. She does not hear him come in, but she welcomes him wordlessly with a warm embrace that expresses comfort, gratitude, and passion. Their encounter is brief: they embrace, he gives her the crumpled letter, and she reads it while he looks on anxiously. Before she has a chance to respond, Polonius lets himself into the apartment bearing gifts for his daughter. The disapproval on Polonius's face is clear, and so Hamlet kisses Ophelia quickly and rushes away. On her face is a mixture of fear, annoyance, and bewilderment--what did Hamlet's visit mean, why did her father have to interrupt them, and what will happen next? She tries to follow Hamlet, but her father stops her, causing her to drop the letter. She bites her finger and swipes at her hair nervously as Polonius picks it up. The scene emphasizes the choices Ophelia must make: on the one hand, Hamlet and a life of her own, and on the other, her father and his efforts to control her choices. At this point, Stiles's star-image and Ophelia begin to diverge; Stiles the artist represents choices that afford financial and personal independence, whereas Ophelia cannot free herself from her father's control.
The letter and her father's interference trigger the beginning of Ophelia's mental breakdown, while Stiles's star image allows the audience to imagine a parallel life for the character, one in which she learns to balance the various aspects of her life. Stiles is represented in the media as someone who has always known what she wanted: at the age of six she wrote a letter to the mayor of New York offering a solution to the city's garbage problem. (47) At eleven, she wrote a letter asking stage director Bob McGrath to let her audition for one of his plays; she got a part in his next production. (48) At twelve, she hired a manager. At sixteen, she became the youngest student at the Sundance Screenwriter's Workshop, where she co-authored a screenplay. (49) She acted onstage, did commercials, and gained screen presence until 10 Things made her a star. As her career has continued to grow, Stiles has played up the duality of her persona, as represented in the Stoli ad, in order to control her image. In contrast, we do not know much about Ophelia's past except for what is revealed through the dialogue and, in Almereyda's film, through images such as Ophelia's photographs and Hamlet's videos. Ophelia cannot be independent or happy as long as she continues to go along with her father's misguided ideas, but she is incapable of outright rebellion because she still seeks his approval.
Ophelia's struggle comes to the fore in another scene in which her character does not appear in Shakespeare's play (2.2); her presence in this scene signals the early stages of her withdrawal into madness and foreshadows her death. Polonius leads her by the hand to visit Claudius and Gertrude at their indoor swimming pool, and while her father is talking, Ophelia stands behind him, clearly distraught--she alternates between crossing her arms tightly in front of her, shoving her hands in her pockets, and wiping at her hair, and her face reflects a mixture of anger, grief, and stubborn refusal to believe her father's words. When Polonius shows Claudius and Gertrude Hamlet's letter, Ophelia tries to grab it unsuccessfully. Ophelia's participation in the scene--the visual reminder of her unwillingness as co-conspirator to reveal Hamlet's love for her--again showcases her duality. She does not want her father to share the letter, but she does not stop him. As the others discuss her relationship with Hamlet, Ophelia distances herself from them. She walks along the edge of the pool as if it is a balance beam and stops by the edge, gazing into the water; when Polonius reports that he told her Hamlet was "a prince out of thy star. / This must not be" she jumps in (2.2.141-2). The camera is positioned underwater at the bottom of the pool, looking up at Ophelia as she slowly sinks, her hands moving up to cover her face. This Ophelia has made a choice: she escapes the prying eyes of controlling adults, taking her life into her own hands. As the possibility of her drowning begins to sink in, a jump cut reveals that it was just a vision; she is still standing, dry, by the side of the pool. She starts, as if surprised to realize the power of her vision, and wipes her face nervously. Almereyda, by inserting Ophelia into this scene, shifts the focus from the adults to the troubled teen. The scene depicts her alienation and misery and foreshadows her death by drowning, showing what will happen if she cannot stand up for herself or balance her competing desires for acceptance and independence, which-as Stiles's star-text shows--do not have to be mutually exclusive. A young woman in the twenty-first century can be a loving daughter, a faithful partner, a hard-working career woman, and an independent person. Constrained by Shakespeare's play, however, Ophelia must descend into madness and eventual death.
The remainder of the film builds on the disjuncture between Stiles's star image and the character of Ophelia. At times, the actress's mettle shows through, highlighted by a defiant look in Ophelia's eye. But Shakespeare's character is unable to escape her fate, and Stiles portrays her as a lost and hopeless young woman who dies because she cannot see beyond rejection and loss. Stiles's presence both critiques and makes meaning of Ophelia's reliance on male approval: Stiles is independent and driven, but many of the characters she plays depend on the men in their lives for personal fulfillment. In this film, her character is unable to stand up to figures of authority, and this inability to rebel costs her dearly.
Stiles portrays Ophelia's madness as a mind torn asunder by its inability to navigate its own duality; unable to please her father and Hamlet, to forgive the one for killing the other, to imagine a future in which she answers to no one but herself, Ophelia becomes unhinged. According to Dyer, audiences relate to characters by "placing" them "in terms both of the understanding we are to have of a character and our judgment of or feeling for him/her." (50) Through certain "cultural/ideological values and attitudes" associated with a character and through the mise en scene, films encourage viewers to feel a certain way about characters. (51) Almereyda's Hamlet works to evoke sympathy for Ophelia by privileging her story, including her in more scenes, and casting a talented young star. Her madness is particularly jarring, then, when she appears at a gala in the Guggenheim Museum looking wild-eyed and unstable, tearful and confused. Whereas Shakespeare's Ophelia conveys her madness by singing bits of old songs about lost love and death, Almereyda cuts most of her lines and rearranges the scene in order to focus on Stiles's physical performance. In his screenplay notes, Almereyda describes the power of this performance:
One of my sharpest peripheral memories of her is very simple: Julia crouched on the floor, facing a particular bend of the wall in the Guggenheim Museum, her head lowered under Walkman headphones, her arms crossed. It was four or five in the morning; I was feeling particularly useless; the crew was clattering away. When the camera was ready Julia quietly removed her headphones, stood and moved into the frame, and in the guise of "acting" some desperate grieving part of herself came swimming up in her eyes. (52)
This grief is just behind the erratic behavior of Stiles's Ophelia in the scene. At times, her voice is distant, her eyes blank as she sings about her loved one being "dead and gone" (4.5.29-30). She screams at Gertrude, "Pray you mark" and tearfully tells Claudius, "Pray let's have no words of this, but when they ask you what it means, say you this" (4.5.35, 46-47). Instead of singing the Saint Valentine's Day song as Ophelia does in the play, Stiles moves to the center wall of the spiraling atrium and screams out over the open space. She has to be dragged away by a bodyguard.
This public spectacle resembles Shakespeare's play in that Ophelia's madness has the power to resist and trouble the dominant social order. Elaine Showalter explains that feminists have discussed "Ophelia's madness as protest and rebellion. For many feminist theorists, the madwoman is a heroine, a powerful figure who rebels against the family and the social order; and the hysteric who refuses to speak the language of patriarchal order, who speaks otherwise, is a sister." (53) Ophelia's rebellion also poses a threat to the court, which many critics fail to mention. Before she enters for her famous mad scene, a gentleman reports to Gertrude and Horatio that
The unshaped use of [Ophelia's speech] doth move The hearers to collection. They aim at it, And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts, Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield them, Indeed would make one think there might be thought, Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily. (4.5.8-13)
This suggests that Ophelia, in her madness, has gathered an audience, and her words command attention and have the potential for causing mischief. Horatio voices this concern: "'Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew / Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds" (14-15). He leaves these "dangerous conjectures" unspoken, but in an aside, Gertrude fears her "guilt" will be "spilt" (19-20). Ophelia's mad speech, with its open discussion of sex, defies Laertes's bid to keep her chastity close and private. Ophelia also resists others' efforts to silence her. Gertrude and Claudius both attempt to speak with her, but they manage only half lines, while she scarcely acknowledges their presence (34, 56). Shakespeare's Ophelia, then, challenges the notion that female rebellion should be avoided at all costs, as Laertes advises. On the contrary, it is precisely by refusing to be contained--by using the words and actions of a madwoman--that Ophelia challenges the patriarchal order, forces her voice to be heard, and breaks free of the restrictions put upon her by the men who would control her life.
Stiles's Ophelia achieves a similar feat by causing a spectacle in front of an audience, museum patrons who strain to see the source of the public disturbance. Arguably, the textual cuts reduce the broadly social ramifications of Ophelia's madness and rebellion to a more personal scale. But Stiles's performance, which disrupts the quietude of an elite social function, is not one that will be easily forgotten, even though Ophelia's audience turns away after Claudius waves them off and Gertrude smiles reassuringly. In this way, the film's adults reduce her behavior to that of a troublesome teenager who disturbs their peace, but whom they can control, both physically and socially. At the same time, however, Stiles's star presence suggests that perhaps Ophelia has not submitted to their authority so fully.
The rest of Ophelia's mad scene takes place in a private side gallery, where her only witnesses are Claudius, Gertrude, and Laertes. No longer raving, she is lost in her own world, teary and wistful, her eyes full of loss. In her hands are Polaroid pictures, which she drops on the floor, one by one, crying, "He will never come again" (4.5.191). She briefly responds to Laertes, but then her eyes go blank, she begins to cry again, and she returns to her pictures, tearfully naming each flower and its quality. Rosemary, "for remembrance," goes to Laertes, as does rue, which she also keeps for herself (4.5. 173-4, 178-9). The artist, left alone with only her images and her grief, has become lost in the past. At the end of the scene, Ophelia strokes her brother's cheek and says, "I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say he made a good end" (4.5.181-3). The last time we see her alive, she is sobbing into her brother's chest. The scene is poignant because of the emotional connection the film has sought for its young star. Gone is the ambitious feminist, the aloof starlet, the passionate artist, and the rebellious daughter. All that remains is a broken young woman with nothing left but memories of the past. And yet, Stiles's body serves as a physical reminder of what Ophelia could be instead--a talented young woman who listens to music on her Walkman, whose work ethic intimidates even seasoned directors.
In this film, the madness of Stiles's Ophelia appears to stem from dual causes: grief for the loss of the life she had with her loved ones as well as a life she wished she had. Susan Bennett argues that "nostalgia is constituted as a longing for certain qualities and attributes in lived experience that we have apparently lost, at the same time as it indicates our inability to produce parallel qualities and attributes which would satisfy the particularities of lived experience in the present." (54) Ophelia's ravings indicate that she has become obsessed with a life she can never reclaim or perhaps never had: both a trusting, intimate relationship with Hamlet and a loving, safe relationship with a caring and supportive father. Neither her brother, nor Hamlet who is still alive, nor anyone else will satisfy her longing for a different sort of life. She may have had the option of a happy, independent future, but Ophelia's nostalgia does not allow her to seek this life; she is unable to find the balance that shows through in Stiles's star image.
Almereyda's film connects Ophelia's death with the tragedy of other teens who, unable to imagine a more hopeful future, resort to suicide. Instead of an extended description of her death, Gertrude reports that "One woe doth tread upon another's heels, / So fast they follow. Your sister is drowned, Laertes" (4.7.162-3). The film cuts to a wide-angle crane shot of the fountain where Ophelia had waited for Ham let earlier. In an inversion of the pool scene, the camera looks down on Ophelia's body, which floats face-up in the shallow basin, her arms stretched out at her sides, sheets of paper floating around her. A security guard enters at the top left of the screen and wades into the fountain. In medium close-up, he pulls her body out of the water. The red and white box that had contained Hamlet's "remembrances" floats to the surface, its contents scattered throughout the fountain. All that Ophelia leaves behind is paper, containing memories to which she clung.
The film's Ophelia commits suicide because she cannot balance the competing pressures placed on young women in contemporary society: she cannot be the dutiful daughter, the loyal sister, and the faithful girlfriend because the men in her life force her to choose between them, and her inability to choose destroys her. Without their approval, she cannot imagine a future, and she fails to embrace her independence. Instead, she withdraws into madness and seeks recourse in death. Stiles injects these final scenes with pathos that challenges her audience to realize the full effect of Ophelia's loss because her star image demonstrates Ophelia's potential for another sort of life. Stiles's Ophelia is not just some girl who wanted to marry a prince, not just the daughter of a diplomat, not just a crazy person who fell out of a tree and drowned. She has potential, is an artist, could have a future. Instead, she commits suicide. This death is enough to force Hamlet to seek his fate, to make Laertes want to commit murder, to prompt Gertrude's grief. But the death transcends the play and the film both: it connects Ophelia's story to those of other girls like her. Like Julia Stiles, these girls may be ambitious, intelligent, and artistic; but unlike Stiles, they succumb to despair and, like Ophelia, choose to leave this life. Stiles the star is not without controversy: she has been criticized for her not-feminist-enough feminism, her participation in films that uphold hegemonic values, and her tendency to self-censor and to court popular favor when it appears that she might alienate her fans, but she does not let criticism paralyze her. Instead, she plays the two sides of her life against each other, making light of her image and building on it. Ophelia, too, is criticized for her relationship with Hamlet, for her deference to her father, and for her inability to take a stand on the direction of her life, but unlike Stiles, she is unable to move forward and instead seeks solace in a watery grave. Like a falling star, she shines for a moment before disappearing from view but not from memory. And yet, Ophelia's story continues beyond death. In life, she may have been unable to rebel, but in death, she serves as a reminder to young women to learn from her mistakes; she demonstrates the importance of resisting the urge to collapse when faced with rejection or loss. The museum patrons may turn away from Ophelia's disturbing voice, but it has forever shattered the peaceful silence of high society.
(1.) Stolichnaya Premium Vodka. http://www.stoli.com. The "Would You Have a Drink With You?" campaign ended in 2011, and the website no longer contains the Stiles content. The television advertisements are archived on youtube.
(2.) Stolichnaya Premium Vodka. "Julia Stiles Stoli Vodka Commercial 'Would You Have a Drink With You?,'" Television advertisement, August 1, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXZ6G5K719E.
(3.) Stolichnaya Premium Vodka. Other Stoli originals include Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, http://www.stoli.com.
(4.) 10 Things I HateAbout You, directed by Gil Junger, 1999 (Touchstone Home Entertainment, 1999), DVD; O, directed by Tim Blake Nelson, 2001 (Lion's Gate Home Entertainment, 2001), DVD; Hamlet, directed by Michael Almereyda, 2000 (Miramax Home Entertainment, 2000), DVD.
(5.) Julia Stiles, "Traveler's Tale: I Was Flat Broke and Stranded in Havana," Wall Street Journal, Eastern Edition, January 15,2011, http://www.proquest.com.
(6.) Dexter (Showtime Networks, 2006-present), TV.
(7.) Elizabeth A. Deitchman, "Shakespeare Stiles Style: Shakespeare, Julia Stiles, and American Girl Culture," in A Companion to Shakespeare in Performance, ed. Barbara Hodgdon and W. B. Worthen (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), 478.
(8.) For instance, Carol Thomas Neely argues that Ophelia is "freed" for madness, and her death significantly separates her from the pressures put upon her as daughter, lover, and political subject while driving others to act. See "Feminist Modes of Shakespearean Criticism," Women's Studies 9 (1981): 3-15, esp. 10-11, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost. Carol Chillington Rutter argues that Ophelia attains subjectivity after death, when she forces audiences to look at and account for her dead body in its grave, and that the I-Iamletfilms directed by Olivier, Kozintsev, Zefferelli, and Branagh deny her this power. See "Snatched Bodies: Ophelia in the Grave," Shakespeare Quarterly 49.3 (Autumn 1998): 299-319, JSTOR, http:/Iwww.jstor.org/stable/2902261.
(9.) Elaine Showalter argues that understandings of Ophelia typically reflect cultural attitudes: "The alternation of strong and weak Ophelias on the stage, virginal and seductive Ophelias in art, inadequate or oppressed Ophelias in criticism, tells us how these representations have overflowed the text, and how they have reflected the ideological character of their times, erupting as debates between dominant and feminist views in periods of gender crisis and redefinition. The representation of Ophelia changes independently of theories of the meaning of the play or the Prince, for it depends on attitudes towards women and madness. ... There is no 'true' Ophelia for whom feminist criticism must unambiguously speak, but perhaps only a Cubist Ophelia of multiple perspectives, more than the sum of all her parts." See "Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism," in Shakespeare and 7he Question of Theory, ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman (New York: Routledge, 1985), 91-92. Showalter is right: readings of Ophelia frequently are divorced from readings of the play as a whole, as well as from readings of Hamlet's character; readings and depictions of Ophelia reflect cultural attitudes and critical trends; and it is impossible to pin down the character according to any one reading. Publications about Almereyda's Hamlet support these ideas.
(10.) Richard Dyer, Stars (London: BFI Publishing, 1998).
(11.) Dyer, 63.
(12.) Ibid., 127.
(13.) Ibid., 126.
(14.) Save the Last Dance, directed by Thomas Carter, 2001 (Paramount Home Video, 2001), DVD.
(15.) The Bourne Identity, directed by Doug Liman, 2002 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2010), DVD; The Bourne Supremacy, directed by Paul Greengrass, 2004 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2010), DVD; The Bourne Ultimatum, directed by Paul Greengrass, 2007 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2010), DVD; Mona Lisa Smile, directed by Mike Newell, 2003 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2010), DVD; The Business of&rangers, directed by Patrick Stetmer, 2001 (MGM Home Entertainment, 2002), DVD; 2he Cry of the Owl, directed by Jamie Thraves, 2009 (Paramount Home Entertainment, 2010), DVD.
(16.) Michael Bristol, Big-Time Shakespeare (New York: Routledge, 1996), xi.
(17.) Leah Rosen, "The Prince & Me (Film)," People, April 12, 2004, 41, MasterFILE Premier. Jennifer L. Smith, "Julia Gets Real," Teen People, April 2000, 112-15, MasterFILE Premier. The Prince and Me, directed by Martha Coolidge, 2004 (Paramount Home Video, 2004), DVD. The film is a loose romantic comedy adaptation of Hamlet, in which Stiles's character meets the disguised prince of Denmark (much less sullen, but just as rebellious as Hamlet) who helps her learn Shakespeare and teaches her how to take time out of her busy school schedule for love.
(18.) Julia Stiles and Rosie Amodio, "I Had to See for Myself," Marie Claire, January 1, 2004, 3638, 40, 42, http://www.proquest.com; Julia Stiles, "Baseball: Making New Memories," Wall Street Journal, Eastern Edition, New York, NY, April 17, 2009, http://www.proquest.com; Julia Stiles, "Traveler's Tale."
(19.) Julia Stiles, "You Know My Steez," http://juliastilesblog.com.
(20.) Zoe Williams, "Of Muse and Men," The Guardian, April 3, 2004, LexisNexis Academic.
(21.) Julia Stiles, "Who's Afraid of the 1950s?," The Guardian, June 17, 2004, http://www.proquest.com.
(22.) Jennifer Clement, "The Postfeminist Mystique: Feminism and Shakespearean Adaptations in 10 Things I Hate About You and She's the Man," Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 3.2 (Summer 2008): 1-23.
(23.) Ibid., 18.
(24.) Deitchman, 478.
(25.) Ibid., 479.
(26.) Ibid., 481.
(27.) For other arguments about the film's negative depictions of feminism, see Clement, "Postfeminist Mystique"; Melissa Jones, "'An Aweful Rule': Safe Schools, Hard Canons, and Shakespeare's Loose Heirs," in Almost Shakespeare: Reinventing His Works for Cinema and Television, ed. James R. Keller and Leslie Stratyner (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004), 137-54; and Monique L. Pittman, "Teen Shakespeare and the Trouble with Gender: 10 2hings IHateAbout You and She's the Man," in Authorizing Shakespeare on Film and Television: Gender, Class, and Ethnicity in Adaptation (New York: Peter Lang, 2011), 97-136. Michael Friedman views the film more sympathetically, arguing that Kat's evolution from a second-wave to a third-wave feminist is a positive marker of her growth. See Michael D. Friedman, "Shakespeare on Film: The Feminist as Shrew in 10 Things I Hate About You," Shakespeare Bulletin 22.2 (Summer 2004): 45-65.
(28.) Deitchman, 485.
(30.) Rutter's essay focuses on the film versions of Hamlet directed by Laurence Olivier (Two Cities Films, 1948), Grigori Kozintsev (Lenfilm Studio, 1964), Franco Zeffirelli (Warner Bros. Pictures, 1990), and Kenneth Branagh (Castle Rock Entertainment, 1996). She argues that all of the films "snatch" Ophelia's body by failing to focus on "the representation of female death" during the graveyard scene, which in turn suppresses the character's importance in the play (300).
(31.) In Reading Shakespeare's Characters: Rhetoric, Ethics and Identity (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992), Desmet argues that Ophelia "gains speech ... at the price of her selfhood and her life" and that her death prompts Hamlet's eloquent assertion of his own identity (34). More specifically, Ophelia is most outspoken after she has gone mad.
(32.) Richard Finkelstein, in "Differentiating Hamlet: Ophelia and the Problems of Subjectivity" (Renaissance and Reformation 21.2 [ 1997]: 5-22), argues that Ophelia resists notions of subjectivity, while her body resists male efforts to contain her: "Ophelia's manner of signifying cannot be separated from challenges female bodies pose to gendered concepts of fixed subjectivity.... In the masculine discourse of the play, reason and the logical closure of meaning indicate, to rephrase Claudius' words, a unified self and judgment. The men in this tragedy have confidence that they are intact when they believe themselves logical. They struggle to ignore or contain Ophelia not just because her speech, but her body itself, resists the kind of logical closure they find necessary to their own experience of feeling bounded" (13). Her body itself is a "political threat" to the patriarchal state (14). In this reading, Ophelia represents a threat to the patriarchy, but Finkelstein suggests she becomes most powerful only in madness.
(33.) Michael Almereyda, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Screenplay (New York: Faber and Faber, 2000), viii.
(35.) Ibid., ix.
(36.) Ibid., xiii-xiv.
(37.) Ibid., 137.
(38.) Some critics do discuss Stiles's presence in this film, but their comments frequently are situated within broader arguments about Almereyda's Hamlet or about groups of Shakespeare film adaptations. See, for example, Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003), 187-202, esp. 196-97; Deitchman, 488-89; and Barbara Hodgdon, "Cinematic Performance: Spectacular Bodies: Acting + Cinema + Shakespeare," in A Concise Companion to Shakespeare on Screen, ed. Diana Henderson (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006), 96-111, esp. 106-09.
(39.) Dyer, 109.
(40.) Gary Brumburgh, "Mini Biography for Julia Stiles," IMDb.com; Lesley Goober, "The Hottest Chicks in Hollywood," Cosmopolitan, December 2001, 192+, MasterFILE Premier.
(41.) Alec Foege, "Stiles and Substance," Biography, July 2002, 74+, MasterFILE Premier; "Julia's Sweet Style," Cosmopolitan, March 2004, 20, MasterFILE Premier.
(42.) Jeff O'Connell, "Catch Her Eye," Men's Health 22.7 (September 2007): 144, Academic OneFile.
(43.) Hodgdon says Stiles offers "a silent performance" because she is "[g]iven little to say (by Shakespeare and even less in Almereyda's script)." Surrounded and controlled by the male characters, Stiles's Ophelia "inhabits [the screen's] margins." And yet, argues Hodgdon, "her performance crackles around those edges: although she seems to be doing less, she is actually doing more, calling up thoughts and emotions that fill her to the brim but which she cannot, dare not, express" (107).
(45.) Dyer, 112.
(46.) All references are to Hamlet, ed. Harold Jenkins, Arden Shakespeare (1982; Walton-on-Thames Surrey: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1997).
(47.) Jancee Dunn, "Is Julia Stiles Too Cool for School?," Rolling Stone, April 12, 2001, 89+, Master-FILE Premier.
(50.) Dyer, 121.
(51.) Ibid., 122.
(52.) Almereyda, 137-38.
(53.) Showalter, 91.
(54.) Susan Bennett, Performing Nostalgia: Shifting Shakespeare and the Contemporary Past (New York: Routledge, 1996), 5.
Natalie Jones Loper, University of Alabama
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|Author:||Loper, Natalie Jones|
|Publication:||The Upstart Crow|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2012|
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