Shakespeare's Hamlet in Film Essay

Shakespeare's Hamlet in Film Essay

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In order to define a good movie one must judge based on the facts which lie in the storyline and must be unaffected by one’s bias towards the actors. Along with judging a movie one must use the proper criteria to evaluate a movie, some of which are storyline, setting, costumes and especially in the case where a book is re-created into a film, it’s veracity with the original text.
Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 version of Hamlet however, greatly differs from that of Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 adaptation. While the two directors make many great changes with regards to the original text of the play, the other remains very true to the play, quoting Shakespeare’s words, word for word. However, not only do the two films contrast each other in their used of text, but as well they differ in setting, interpretation of characters and relationships between characters. In my opinion Branagh’s adaptation is much better than that of Zeffirelli in most aspects; it gives a truer likeness to the play itself.
One of the things that Branagh brings to his adaptation of the play is an amazing visual sense. From start to finish, this is a stunningly beautiful film, filled with vibrant colors, startling camera angles, and costumes and production values that are among the best of the year. Even if the story was weak, Hamlet would be worth seeing for its pure visual splendor, and although the dress and settings are those of late-nineteenth century England, no part of the film seems antiquated. With an unflagging attention to detail, Hamlet demands to be noticed. For the most part it is set in a Danish Castle during the Victorian era. Placing Hamlet in this era was rather risqué, due to the fact that the Victorian era was a period where rich families intermarr...


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...attraction towards his mother. This is explicitly shown in the film however, not in the play although many have interpreted it that way. Branagh’s version suggests that Hamlet and Ophelia have sexual intercourse, something which I found no indication towards in the written text of the play itself.
In general, the 1990 version of Hamlet was able to portray the foreboding theme and doomed atmosphere which makes this play have such intensity to it, simply with its setting. Although the 1996 version was not perfect I feel that it was able to portray the emotions that were lost in the shortened 1990 version. Overall I would have to say that I enjoyed the 1996 version much more than the 1990 version simply due to its elegance through the sets and costumes and its ability to portray emotions adequately and accurately, thus creating a bridge between the play and the film.

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