By Julianna Reidell:
*Cue melodramatic music. We open on a bleak Danish day, a foreboding castle looming overhead. Camera pans up to a window, where a young man stands, wearing all black, looking straight into the lens with inhuman sadness. Everything possesses a slightly gritty feel*
Inexpressibly soothing and slightly monotonous female voice: Depression. One in every two Scandinavian princes suffers from it. But depression isn’t just about feeling sad. It’s a world-weariness, a heaviness, an inability to change one’s life for the better, an inability to act…
*We cut to a white background, emphasizing the man in black clothing, who speaks moodily to the camera. Caption: *Real Danish Royalty. Not Actors*
Hamlet: I was commanded to kill my uncle/stepdad by the ghost of my father. Seems simple, right? But day after day, I struggled. I made soliloquies and speeches. I moped. I brooded. I broke up with my girlfriend and told her to go join a convent and/or become a prostitute? I told myself that this indecision was natural. But it wasn’t. (beat) That’s when I realized I had depression. And after my father showed up again to chew me out once I killed my girlfriend’s dad and yelled at my mom about her sex life, I realized I needed to do something about it.
*White background fades to a charming landscape - a low wall with a willow tree and river behind it. A madwoman with flowers in her hair tips over and splashes into the river, but the camera is focused still on Hamlet.
Hamlet: So I started taking HAMLEX.
*he holds up a generic-looking box of medication*
Hamlet: And it turned my life around.
*Scene montage accompanies Hamlet’s words*
Hamlet: I asserted myself…
*Scene of Hamlet bellowing “GET THEE TO A NUNNERY!” at a cowering Ophelia, then raging at Queen Gertrude, who wails “Wilt thou murder me? HELP!”*
Hamlet: I made connections…
*Hamlet, holding a skull, begins talking to it with a wild look in his eyes. Scene switches to: Hamlet, at the final duel, switches swords with Laertes and both begin stabbing madly at each other*
Hamlet: And I took charge of my life once again.
*Hamlet, in the chaos of the final duel, impales Claudius and tilts the cup of poisoned wine down his throat. Screams rise to a crescendo. All fades back to Hamlet, against the white background*
Hamlet: That’s why, if you suffered from the same symptoms I did, you should ask your doctor about HAMLEX.
*Scene: Hamlet dying in Horatio’s arms. He feebly pushes the HAMLEX container into his friend’s hands. Hamlet: “You’re gonna need this, pal.”*
*Hamlet speaks, voice-over, over a scene of his coffin being escorted towards the Elsinore Graveyard, surrounded by a solemn procession of soldiers*
Hamlet: Because it may have been way too late for me…
*Hamlet is lowered into his grave. Scene shifts to Horatio, in the same garden with the willow tree and stream, tilting his head back to chug several pills at once, the HAMLEX box discarded at his feet*
Hamlet: But it’s not too late for you.
*Slow-motion scenes alternate between deaths from Hamlet - Ophelia drifting downstream, King Hamlet being poisoned by Claudius in his orchard, Queen Gertrude collapsing from poisoned wine - and Horatio wandering in a peaceful stupor through the pretty Elsinore grounds. Tiny text slowly rolls up screen to accompany quiet voice-over:*
Female narrator (voice over): HAMLEX is an entirely experimental product, untested besides on one dead Danish prince. Several lab mice were known to experience hysterics and suicidal thoughts after taking this product. Side effects may include nausea, headaches, compulsive moodiness, fascination with skulls, a tendency to talk to oneself in iambic pentameter, hemorrhaging, and spontaneous combustion. Death is likely to occur soon after taking this product. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms to give them time to flee the country. HAMLEX was manufactured by overworked, underpaid employees at BARD Industries who are hoping to obtain a living wage anytime soon. HAMLEX - a choice for you.
*Camera focuses one more time on Horatio, eyes bloodshot, swaying, grinning dazedly, slurring slightly:*
Horatio: HAMLEX. Because I choose “to be”!
*Cut to black. End music.*
*NOTE: This piece was awarded a Silver Medal With Distinction by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.