Hamlet is a complex play with many characters that each has an important role in the development of the story line. In the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are inserted for nothing more than comic relief. But on the contrary, in the movie they are hopeless wanderers looking for meaning in the world. The pair is so lost in their mental endeavors that they do not even notice the crumbling of a royal family and ultimately their own deaths.
Through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern we learn many lessons of the laws of nature and mathematics. They find answers to some of the worlds most difficult problems that have not even begun to be discovered according to the history books. Such discoveries as Newton's law of gravity, the steam engine, and the theory of probability can all be solved in their own somewhat idiotic ways. They also argue and prove to each other the obvious puzzles in life. When trying to demonstrate the difference in which objects fall, Rosencrantz says, You would think that the iron ball would fall at a faster
rate than this feather. Upon dropping the objects the iron ball plummets to the floor while the feather floats to the ground proving a common fact.
There are significant differences between the movie and the book. In the book the real world is that of Elsinore to which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are brought into. The movie puts Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in a make-believe world on a journey through the play of hamlet. In the movie the real world is represented by featureless rock and desolate forests, through which the pair journeys to find meaning. The only thing they can seem to remember is a royal summons given to them from the king of Denmark. Chance is a central image that is associated with the two throughout the film and was shown through the coin toss. The fact that the coin always landed upon the heads side could also serve as foreshadowing the pair's death. For there seems to be an almost one hundred percent probability that the coin will land on heads and an almost one hundred percent probability that they will be beheaded.
The players have a key role in both the film and text. They provide an important role in catching King Claudius in the text and serve as comic relief in the film. They are first introduced in the film when they bump in to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on the way to the castle. They beg for audiences saying that without one actor's are useless and then begin to sound off a list of possible performances. The last scene in the movie shows the players riding off down the same road that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern first traveled. This is hinting that perhaps all the action has taken place within the players wagon and stage.
The characters within Elsinore remain constant with their actions between the text and film. The story of Hamlet shows the downfall and desecration of the role Denmark family. All the characters within the walls of Elsinore rot and begin to fall apart by the end of the story. Many of them succumb to plain madness like Prince Hamlet and Ophelia. It is almost as if a wave of evil has attacked the once peaceful castle bringing murder and betrayal upon all within it. At the end of the text the characters all seem to be composed of hatred and vengeance. But this could also be considered their decomposition into wild animal like people who murder at will. In both the film and text no problem seems to have a clear solution.