Hamlet Movie Review
The movie "Hamlet," released in January 18, 1991, shows director Franco Zeffirelli's selections of Shakespeare's original Hamlet and reflects one intriguing possibility of the text. There are various interpretations of each character and the story; however, no one vision can adequately encompass every perspective of the play. The text, of course, will always exist in permanent form and it is up to the individual's interpretation to make the story their own. Zeffirelli did a terrific job at directing such a complex story into a film easily understood by viewers.
In most translations from books to movies, producers sacrifice certain elements to narrow the focus and make the film unique to his style. The use of film techniques, compared to the Victorian stage plays, allows different dramatic developments in the story. Thus, the movie unfolds at a different pace than stage play, creating a whole new dynamic between scene transitioning. Christopher de Vore's skill as a screenwriter accurately portrays the characters without detracting from Shakespeare's language. For example, the prologue in the beginning of the movie demonstrates the enthrallment of Hamlet Senior as a ghost. Retaining the originality to the dialogue in the text, the movie is still unique to the director's vision. Most importantly, the director's interpretation of the story works well in developing the depth of each character without creating a new twist in the story of "Hamlet." Although he cut some essential parts from the play, Zeffirelli employed his own style and created an amazing tribute to Shakespeare. He edited parts of the movie and rearranged it to create a story that would make sense to contemporary audiences. Through this, he gives in an apparent life to the play which moves well from beginning to end.
Shakespeare's play is not at all about the story. The story is just the outer armor on which some life altering metaphoric structure is built around. For example, Hamlet Junior bellows, "Tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity, and pity 'tis true." From Hamlet Junior's first meeting with Hamlet Senior's ghost, he is profoundly disturbed and begins to question his mentality and judgment of reality. Ironically, he pretends to be crazy to conceal his true plans to kill his uncle Claudius. Zeffirelli has a fine sense of coloring in each scene with movement between light and dark, and good and evil. Zeffirelli focuses on the characters and allows them lead the storyline without compromising the text's originality.
One complaint is that Mel Gibson seemed to be too old for the role of Hamlet, thereby making Glenn Close too young to be Gertrude. The issue of Hamlet's age has always been a problem. According to the text, he is supposed to be in his thirties; however, that makes some of his relationships with Ophelia, for instance, seem pedophiliac. Yet, if Hamlet is portrayed too young, the depth of his thought is almost impossible to imagine. I thought he was a good actor; particularly in reciting the Shakespearean lines is something I have found most important to my understanding of the story. His passion clearly portrays a son who has gone through madness over his father's death, contemplation of murdering his uncle, and the incestuous marriage of his mother. Gibson not only gives a convincing depiction of Hamlet's cloak of madness, but also shows us the desperation of the character in his quiet moments as Hamlet is not a man who could not make up his mind, but rather, one who riddled with uncertainty. Thus, Gibson spends much of the film alternating between mania-induced impulsiveness and paralyzing inability to function with sanity. Glenn Close is amazing as she portrays Gertrude as a real character, with traits both shameful and empathetic. Helena Bonham-Carter's performance is astounding as well, especially her moment of lunacy as Ophelia in reacting to the death of her father, Polonius. The cast of characters in this version of Hamlet was more than enough to bring Shakespeare's stage theater alive on screen.
Overall, I believe that this is a good foundation to understanding the language of Hamlet further, and would be supplemented with the Shakespearean text. I commend Zeferelli as a master filmmaker for his directing skills. I would promote this acclaimed film to anyone who has ever marveled at Shakespearean language and would like to watch a film literature as well.
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
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December 23, 2011 at 12:29 AM