Essay on Franco Zeffrelli´s Hamlet

Essay on Franco Zeffrelli´s Hamlet

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Franco Zeffirelli portrayed a more effective version of the famous to be or not be soliloquy by having it set below in the family mortuary. Having violently rejected Ophelia, Hamlet climbs down the stoned stairs of the medieval castle and into the cellar where all his ancestors’ burial tombs lie, including his father’s. Surrounding himself in tombs and skeletons, he intones the to be or not to be speech in isolation and darkness. Having this particular set design, Zeffirelli enhanced the scene by creating a cold, dark, and suspenseful atmosphere. The family mortuary set design was eerie and melancholic which added realism into the speech as it allowed the audience to really see the manifestation of death that Hamlet contemplated. It also added physical emotion into the soliloquy as the scene contrasted death and Hamlet so closely with all the dead royals in their tombs, showing how deep Hamlet’s thoughts on life and death were rooted in his mind. Therefore, Zeffirelli’s use of the set design helped to create a more intense scene that enriched the soliloquy.

As well as his impressive set design, Zeffirelli also uses lighting as a tool to successfully create an effective portrayal of the play. During Hamlet’s to be or not to be speech, Hamlet frequently stops and takes pauses as a way to reflect on what he has just said. At first, Hamlet remains relatively calm but as his speech progresses, and he walks around the mortuary visiting different tombs, including his father’s, his anger level elevates. Zeffirelli uses an effective lighting technique that bathes this scene with darkness but a golden glowing light casts on the side of Hamlet’s face, bringing out the contrast between light and dark, and life and death. The way Hamlet’s...


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...sign, lighting, casting, and costumes in the to be or not to be scene and Ophelia’s madness scene. His specific use of having the setting of the to be or not to be scene in the family mortuary made the atmosphere dark, and suspenseful which added intensity to Hamlet’s soliloquy. The lighting used in that scene also allowed the audience to see the blunt contrast between good and evil, making the scene more dramatic. Additionally, casting Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia made Ophelia’s insanity more believable because of her innocent features in her madness scene. Moreover, the costumes worn by the characters in the movie were more historically accurate for that time period and allowed the audience to see why each character behaved the way they did. All these different components of the film added to create a very effective interpretation of the famous play, Hamlet.



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