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William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Essay title: William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Hamlet

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was first performed around the year 1600. Since then, it has proven to be one of the most enduring stories ever created by Shakespeare. This epic tragedy has been adapted to film dozens of times and has seen legendary actors such as Richard Burton and Laurence Olivier take the lead role. In 1996, another version of Hamlet made its film debut under the direction of Kenneth Branagh who also plays the lead role Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. This film utilizes many dramatic attributes that set this film apart from any other depiction of Hamlet, making it the most accurate cinematic expression of any of Shankepeare’s plays depicted in film.

One of the first things the audience will recognize is the amazing visual sense of the film. From start to finish, this film is filled with vibrant displays of color. Branagh made the decision to change the time frame of the film to a more colonial period of Eighteenth Century England to permit the characters to wear eye-catching clothes consisting of jackets of red and yellow for the male characters to vibrant white lace for the ladies. Each scene is miticulously designed to ensure that each camera angle is pleasing to the eye. The story is set in winter so there are fine scenes involving snow. For example, in one of the scenes, Laertes and Ophelia walk through the castle’s snow covered garden on a sunny day. Each scene of the film is grand and majestic, offering the audience a spectacular view from the outside. One of the most eye-catching moments of the film occurs during the departure of Gertrude and Claudius from Elsinore’s audience chamber under a cloud of flower petals while Hamlet watches from behind, dressed in black. The entire set is under enormous cloud of vibrant, white flower petals falling from the ceiling.

Another reason that this film is set apart from most adaptations of Hamlet was the accuracy of the plot and dialogue. Unlike most versions, this film is billed as a full text version, meaning that nothing was omitted from the original version of Shakespeare. This is the first adaptation of the play that gives the audience a complete representation of the story. Nothing is left out. For example, many of Hamlet’s soliloquys consist of no actors on set except Hamlet himself, just as Shakespeare intended. This enables the audience to get a feel for the most important elements of this play which are plot and characterization. The enduring appeal of Hamlet is centered around the complex characterization and the tragic plot. The story centers around Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, who is mourning the death of his father. Hamlet comes to learn that his mother has become engaged to his uncle and sees this as a betrayel to his dead father. It is only when Hamlet is approached by his father’s apparition that he learns that his Uncle Claudius is responsible for murdering him. Hamlet then decides to devise a plan to stage a play, re-enacting his father’s murder to judge Claudius’ reaction to determine his guilt. In the end Hamlet gets his revenge, but not until his mother Gertrude drinks poison wine and Hamlet is mortally wounded himself and dies.

One of the aspects of film that the 1996 version of Hamlet was able to utilize is the use

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