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Hamlet Film Versions

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Hello,

Using the 4 different versions of Hamlet on film (Mel Gibson, Ethan Hawke, Kevin Kline, and Kenneth Branagh), examine these elements:

1) Which films are the most accurate and why?

2) What parts in each film are the most glaring inaccurate and what were the significant changes?

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In the different versions of Hamlet, the one that remains truest to Shakespeare's original play is Kenneth Branagh's version.

Branagh's version (1996) is the longest film of all of those you mentioned, but his is the most accurate to the original play, is exciting, and doesn't "dumb down the material, and so if you are looking for the film that covers it all, this would be the one. Branagh's acting is praised, as are the performances of several supporting actors, but to those who are not Shakespearean purists, watching this one requires an extended commitment of viewing time. (It comes in a two-DVD set.) Branagh also has a long history with Shakespearean acting, so he bring a great deal of experience to the role. The setting of the play is more contemporary, as are the costumes, but it still remains relatively true to Shakespeare's original vision.

Mel Gibson's version (1990), as with others, leaves out some information, and the sequencing of events is altered for a smoother flow in the film. Zeffirelli (the director) chooses to change the chronology of some of the events so that the plot moves along more quickly, not necessarily altering the ...

Solution Summary

Hamlet film versions are concisely compared and contrasted.

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See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Hamlet film versions: in this posting there are a variety of film versions of Hamlet discussed, with clarifications provided to better assist the student.

Hello,

You had provided me with some opinions awhile back and I was wondering about some of your points that I wondered if you could clarify for me.

1) The setting of the play is more contemporary, as are the costumes, but it still remains relatively true to Shakespeare's original vision. (WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THIS?)

2) Mel Gibson's version (1990), as with others, leaves out some information, and the sequencing of events is altered for a smoother flow in the film. (HOW IS THE SEQUENCING CHANGED AND HOW DOES THAT MAKE IT FLOW MORE SMOOTHLY?)

3) Zeffirelli (the director) chooses to change the chronology of some of the events so that the plot moves along more quickly, not necessarily altering the substance of the action, but presenting different scenes as if they occur simultaneously so that the plot does not get bogged down. (WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THIS?)

4) The play does not appear as "darkly" filmed as others (in terms of lighting!), and the supporting cast does an excellent job presenting characters that stand up to close scrutiny. (CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT YOU MEAN BY THIS?)

5) The scripting is changed in some instances: for example, in the movie, Polonius is shown spying on Hamlet and Ophelia for information, while in the play, the dutiful Ophelia goes to her father with the information. Changes like this do not seem to have detracted from the play's impact. (WHAT IS THE LIKELY REASON THAT ZEFIRELLI MADE THIS CHANGE?)

6) Though Fortinbras is generally left out of most of the plays, this does not seem to hinder the play's effectiveness. Some argue that Shakespeare, being an artist himself, would not mind such license being taken in the name of literary interpretation. (WHAT DO YOU MEAN?)

7) Ethan Hawke's version is, as mentioned, the more contemporary of all of the plays, but it seems to lack the power and intensity in acting (IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT IS THE BASIS FOR YOUR OPINION?)

8) Kevin Kline's version has supporters, but some aspects of Hamlet's character are elusive in his portrayal of the "Prince of Denmark." He finds the wit, satire and cynicism of Hamlet's character, but not the depth of internal struggles that haunt the young Dane. (IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT IS THE BASIS FOR THIS JUDGMENT?)

Thank you so much!

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