Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Synopsis: Showing events from the point of view of two minor characters from Hamlet, men who have no control over their destiny, this film examines fate and asks if we can ever really know what's going on? Are answers as important as the questions? Will Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (or Guildenstern and Rosencrantz) manage to discover the source of Hamlet's malaise as requested by the new king? Will the mysterious players who are strolling around the castle reveal the secrets they evidently know? And whose serve is it?
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director(s): Tom Stoppard
Production: Cinecom Pictures
  3 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
117 min





















Heads I win.








It must be indicative of something

besides the redistribution of wealth.


A weaker man might be moved

to re-examine his faith,

for nothing else at least

in the law of probability...




probability is a factor which

operates within natural forces.

Two, probability is not

operating as a factor.

Three, we are now held within um...

sub or supernatural forces.



Look at it this way.

If six monkeys...

If six monkeys...

The law of averages,

if I have got this right means...

that if six monkeys were thrown

up in the air long enough...

they would land on their tails

about as often as they would

land on their...

Heads, getting a bit of

a bore, isn't it?

A bore?


What about the suspense?

What suspense?

It must be the law

of diminishing returns.

I still spell about to be broken.

Well, it was an even chance.

Seventy eight in a row.

A new record, I imagine.

Is that what you imagine?

A new record?

No questions?

Not a flicker of doubt?

I could be wrong.

No fear?



Seventy nine.

I think I have it.

Time has stopped dead.

The single experience of one coin

being spun once has been repeated.

A hundred and fifty six times.

On the whole, doubtful.

Or, a spectacular vindication

of the principle.

That each individual

coin spun individually is...

as likely to come down

heads as tails

and therefore should cause no

surprise each individual time it does.


I've never known anything like it.

He has never known

anything like it.

But he has never known

anything to write home about.

Therefore it's just nothing

to write home about.

What's the first thing

you remember?

Oh, let's see, hm...

the first thing that comes

into my head, you mean?


the first thing you remember...

No, it's not good. It's gone.

So long time ago.

You don't get my mean.

Most first thing after

all the things you forgot?

Oh, I see.

I've forgotten the question.

Are you happy?


Content? At ease?

Well I suppose so.

What are you going to do now?

I don't know.

What do you want to do?


What about it?

We have been spinning coins

together since I don't know when...

and in all that time,

if it is all that time, one hundred

and fifty seven coins spun...

consecutively have come down heads

one hundred and fifty seven

consecutive times, and all you can do

is play with your food.

Wait a minute.

There was a messenger.

Rosencrantz... Guildenstern...

We were sent for.

Another curious scientific

phenomenon is the fact that

the fingernails grow after death

... as does the beard.



But you're not dead!

I didn't say they only started

to grow after death!

The fingernails also grow

before birth. Though not the beard.


Beard! What's the matter with you?

The toenails on the other hand

never grow at all.

The toenails on the other foot

never grow at all.

Do you remember the first thing

that happened today?

Oh, I woke up, I suppose.

I've got it now...

That man, he woke us up.

A messenger.

That's it...

pale sky before dawn,

a man standing on his saddle

to bang on the shutters...

But then he called our names...

You remember, man woke us up.

We were sent for.

That's why we're here.

Traveling a matter of extreme

urgency... a royal summons,

his very words...

official business no questions asked

up, we get and off at the gallop,

fearful lest we come too late!

Too late for what?

How would I know?

We haven't got there yet.

What's that?


An audience!

Don't move!

Perfect... well met, in fact,

and just in time.

Why's that?

Why, we grow rusty and you catch us

at the very point of decadence...

this time tomorrow we might have

forgotten everything we ever knew.

We'd be back where we started,


Tumblers, are you?

We can give you a tumble,

if that's your taste,

and times being what they are.

Otherwise for a jingle of coin

we can do you a selection

of gory romances.

Pirated from the Italian

and it doesn't take much

to make a jingle...

even a single coin has music in it,

should it be gold.


at your command.

My name is Guildenstern,

and this is Rosencrantz.

I'm sorry, his name's Guildenstern,

and I'm Rosencrantz.

We've played to bigger, but

quality counts for something.


What exactly do you do?

Tragedy, sir.

Deaths and disclosures,

universal and particular,


transvestite melodrama...

We transport you back into a world

of intrigue and illusion.

Clowns if you like...


We can do you ghosts...

and battles...

on the skirmish level...

heroes... villains...

tormented lovers...

set pieces in the poetic vein,

we can do you rapiers,

or rape...

or both,

by all means faithless wives

and ravished virgins...

flagrante delicto at a price.

For which there are special terms.

It costs little to watch,

and a little more to get

caught up in the action.

If that's your taste

and times being what they are.

What are they?




See anything you like?

Lucky thing we came along.

For us?

Also for you.

For some it is performance,

for others patronage,

they are two sides

of the same coin...

or being as there are so many

of us the same side of two coins.

It was luck, then?

Or fate.

Yours or ours?

It could hardly be one

without the other.

Fate then.

You said, caught up in the action?

I did! I did!

You're quicker than your friend.

For a handful of coins

I happen to have...

a private and uncut performance

of the Rape of the Sabine Women...

or rather woman...

or rather Alfred...

and for eight you can participate.

It could have been.

It didn't have to be obscene.

I was prepared.

But it's this, is it?

No enigma... no dignity,

nothing classical or poetic...

only this...

a comic pornographer

and a rabble of prostitutes.

You should have caught

us in better times.

We were purists then.

Excuse me!


You're not, ah,

exclusively players, then?

We're inclusively players, sir.

I had no idea--


I mean I've heard of--,

but I've never actually seen...

I mean, what exactly do you do?

We keep to our usual stuff,

more or less, only inside out.

We do on stage the things

that are supposed to happen off.

Which is a kind of integrity,

if you look on every exit

as an entrance somewhere else.

Wait a minute.

What will you do for that?

Do you know any good plays?

Plays? Oh, yes.

One of the Greeks, perhaps?

You're familar with the tragedies

of Antiquity, are you?

The great homicidal classics?

'Maidens aspiring to Godheads',

or vice versa? That's

your kind of thing, is it?

I can't say it is, really.

Eh we're more of the love,

blood and rhetoric school.

Well, we can do you blood

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Tom Stoppard

Sir Tom Stoppard OM CBE FRSL (born Tomáš Straussler; 3 July 1937) is a British playwright and screenwriter, knighted in 1997. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil, The Russia House, and Shakespeare in Love, and has received one Academy Award and four Tony Awards. Themes of human rights, censorship and political freedom pervade his work along with exploration of linguistics and philosophy. Stoppard has been a key playwright of the National Theatre and is one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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