Written and Directed by: Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer
Based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet soliloquy
Short Film Review by: Hannah Sayer
“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
In Maxime-Claude L’ Écuyer’s short film Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy, Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy from Hamlet is reimagined within the weird and wacky context of the intergalactic universe of Star Wars. To celebrate both the 40th anniversary of Star Wars original release and the recent 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the short film presents this soliloquy as the inner voice of a Stormtrooper.
The short film opens with this aforementioned Stormtrooper TD-73028, played by David Blouin and voiced by Anton Golikov, alone in a desolate and vast landscape in space. This is a more contemplative piece which is driven forward by the soliloquy rather than plot-based, so not a lot of action takes place in the film’s short 8 minute running time. Certain moments later in the short film mirror the plot of Hamlet, but primarily the focus is on the Stormtrooper’s inner voice and the power of this famous soliloquy.
This soliloquy is the most famous of Shakespeare’s works, and it is also one of the most famous pieces of writing ever created. It is familiar to most people and holds an iconic status. It has been revisited and performed countless times, yet Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy distorts this familiarity by placing it within an unfamiliar context not associated with the Shakespearean language. There is something particularly uncanny about recognising these familiar words and language somewhere unexpected and without the wider context of the play. The sound design and music used in the short creates an eerie atmosphere which adds to the dramatic tension reinforced. The short film is beautifully shot and captures the contemplative mood of the piece perfectly.
In the same way that the use of the soliloquy is unique, it is also limiting. The Hamlet soliloquy loses some of its original power through its position within this new context of Star Wars. It’s a soliloquy so familiar that it would be impossible to create an entirely unique or separate entity without drawing comparisons to what has come before it. The short film feels empty of a grand statement or of a significant plot, yet it is an interesting and unique exploration of Shakespeare within this Star Wars universe.
Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy demonstrates the way Shakespeare’s language is still relevant today, while also enforcing the power of language and how it can transport you, even sometimes to another galaxy entirely.