Comparing Shakespeare's and Zeffirelli's Hamlet

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Hamlet prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare is probably one of the most studied fictional pieces in history. It has become the very pinnacle of literature, and despite the commonality of the play there are many renditions that offer a different artistic interpretation. One rendition, in particular is Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 film translation starring Mel Gibson as Hamlet. Shakespeare’s original Hamlet follows the heartening life of young Hamlet in which he is often portrayed as a whiney young man that spends his time moping around the castle teetering on the brink of insanity. Zeffirelli’s departure from the norm brings to light a different side of the character that is often overlooked in mainstream productions. Choosing to create a visual Hamlet and heavily cut text has lead to some attention-grabbing changes in the plays structure. Franco Zeffirelli’s film is significantly different with the play. For example, he added the funeral scene at the beginning. He uses a different order with the scenes and parts of scenes, most long speeches are cut, and sometimes gives one characters lines to another. Even though these changes could offend the devoted Shakespearean researcher, they mainly are there to build up the action and cut down the plot. Theatre is restricted to geographical span, whereas motion the opposite is true. In film the director has freedom to shoot each scene at different locations and at different times, later putting them together for the final product. The result for the movie is that the audience is easily able to recognize the time of day and place. Stage performances are less clear, and unless one is familiar with the play they must often simply wait for actors to deduce where and when the scene is t... ... middle of paper ... ...y. Zeffirelli’s filmic Hamlet evidently interprets the original play especially considering Mel Gibson’s performance making it easy for the audience to understand Shakespearean dialect. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a man with friends who proves to be much more reserved, and manipulative than someone might imagine today. His hamlet is considerate in his plans, but with no tact interpersonally. Zeffirelli’s audience is required to focus on the troubles, and character of Hamlet, who is nonstop, and unfriendly, but a sensitive loner when the time is right. Zeffirelli accomplishes this mixture while staying faithful to his starting place my maintaining solid screenplay with a constant flow supporting his own take on the story. Concisely, Zeffirelli’s Hamlet is both a free and a loyal understanding of its source, which is, for today’s viewers, a Hamlet in its own right.

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