Hamlet: Zeffirelli vs. Branagh

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To play one of Shakespeare’s most complex roles successfully on stage or on screen has been the aspiration of many actors. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been the focus on various accounts throughout the 20th Century, each actor attempting to bring something unique and unmarked to the focal character. Franco Zeffirelli and Kenneth Branagh, both film directors, introduce varying levels of success on the screen through downright differences in ways of translation and original ideas. Zeffirelli’s much shorter interpretation of the film is able to convey the importance of Hamlet as a masterwork by using modern approaches to film but still capturing the traditional work behind Shakespeare’s well-known play. Zeffirelli’s 1990 “Hamlet” production focuses on the greater dominant widespread audiences, who have high expectations and respect for actors like Mel Gibson. The film takes a typical action movie role, which is very robust and physical in all aspects. Zeffirelli evokes a new type of character for Hamlet who maintains the sensitive side that comes across within Shakespeare’s play, but adds variation to the character by never making him weak. Gibson’s very active display of emotion is seen throughout the entire production, but is never over the top. Noel Sloboda is intrigued by Zeffirelli’s focus on a younger more dominant audience, and because of this, she argues that actors such as Mel Gibson were the main focus of the remake. By adding new dialogue as well as variations to scenes, Zeffirelli’s version of Hamlet is modernized and differs much from that of Branagh’s longer rendition but maintains the importance of the original works. The location of the film set up the entire mood of the storyline. This large castle, off the c... ... middle of paper ... ...ental to the storyline. Although Branagh’s version of Hamlet parallelizes to Shakespeare’s masterwork, mainly by keeping the text very similar, it almost retrieves the importance of the original work by the shift in eras as well as the addition of modernized extras. Zifferelli is able to show his audience a whole new dynamic of interpreting a classic masterpiece. By focusing on casting popular actors and including extras that are appealing to viewers currently, but not overwhelming, he is able to reach out a larger array of fans and critics without taking attention away from the main focus; the storyline. The battle between staying true to the original work and altering a classic masterpiece to appeal to audiences today is a continuous dilemma which many filmmakers are destined to face when attempting to remake timeless work such as that of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

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