A Comparison Of Two Film Adaptations Of Hamlet

1021 words - 4 pages

"I was raped," the girl said to me overtaken with tears. I was taken by surprise and was at a complete loss for words. She had just taken one of the darkest secrets of her life and brought it out to the splendid light for just me to gaze upon. A little apprehensive, I responded, "I'm sorry." What is one to say at the revelation of such a horrid thing? Anything else I thought of saying sounded stupid and insensitive, so I opted for silence and hugged her to comfort her to the best of my ability. A few months later the girl came to me and thanked me. She said that my gesture meant more to her than anything anyone else had said about the rape. I then realized that sometimes, if not most of the time, actions can speak louder than words. The parts of us that are less vocal, such as our clothing, gestures, facial expressions, etc. can be more impacting than words.

Shakespeare's Hamlet has been adopted to the screen many times, each with its own interpretation of the dialogue. The directors Kenneth Branagh and Michael Almereyda both bring the words of Shakespeare to life with vivid and original settings, costumes, and personalities. Of course they both attempt to convey different moods and tones. Branagh's on-screen version is very traditional as it is set in the 1800's and every word of Shakespeare's is included verbatim. On the other hand, Almereyda presents the world a completely modern version of the famous play complete with cell phones, laptops, guns, and your mundane company take-over!

Both use the words of Shakespeare but are strikingly distinct due to rendition of the words and the environment which provides a different feel.

The setting of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet is winter and all is blue and carries a feel of eeriness. It opens with the word "Hamlet" engraved in stone, which adds to the foreboding feel the music has already given the film. The first scene gives a little comic relief when the guards become confused after seeing the ghost. When the camera enters the looming castle a celebration is being had and is abruptly interrupted by the mysterious Hamlet. The real life of the play starts to be seen upon Hamlet's entrance; Hamlet's costume and character are very bold and start to add to the impact of the setting, costume, and gestures throughout the film. Roger Ebert thinks alike: "The camera watches and then pans to the right, to reveal the solitary figure of Hamlet, clad in black. It always creates a little shock in the movies when the foreground is unexpectedly occupied. We realize the subject of the scene is not the wedding, but Hamlet's experience of it. Branagh's film is very powerful and hard-hitting, the vivid and colorful scene in the palace is a good example of this.

Emotion and feeling is easily expressed by the extraordinary acting and is very evident in the scene where Ophelia, played by Kate Winslet, returns Hamlet's, played by Kenneth Branagh, love letters. When he and Ophelia talk they show great...

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