What comparisons can be made between Hamlet and the film Road to Perdition?

There are some intriguing parallels between Shakespeare's Hamlet and the 2002 film Road to Perdition. The most obvious is that both are stories about fathers and sons. They are also both stories in which vengeance plays an important part. A third parallel is that both end with their protagonists dead.

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Initially, Shakespeare's classic tragedy and the 2002 period gangster film Road to Perdition, which was directed by Sam Mendes and adapted from a graphic novel, wouldn't seem to have anything in common. However, a closer look reveals some interesting points of comparison. Both are stories about fathers and sons. Hamlet has lost his father and is visited by his ghost, who tells him about the murder. His new "father," Claudius, is his uncle, and prompted by the ghost, he vows to take revenge. There is also another important father and son pair in Polonius and Laertes. Hamlet kills Polonius (albeit accidentally), which motivates Laertes to seek Hamlet's death.

In Road to Perdition, the protagonist, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), is a hit man for the mob. His son tags along and witnesses a murder, which leads the mob to try and kill Sullivan and his family. They succeed in killing his wife and other son. Like Hamlet, Sullivan seeks revenge, another important parallel. Both the main characters have lost someone close to them and are out for justice, or vengeance, depending on how you look at it. There is another notable father-son pair in Perdition, that of the gang boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) and his son (Daniel Craig), who is a somewhat unstable and violent character. Rooney's sudden betrayal of Sullivan can be seen as a way to protect his son.

Finally, in both works, the hero ends up dead but not before extracting their revenge. Hamlet kills Claudius (many others die along the way), and Sullivan kills Rooney and Rooney's son. They complete their mission but at great cost.

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