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William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

By:   •  Book/Movie Report  •  743 Words  •  November 13, 2009  •  974 Views

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Essay title: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

I am not a big fan of the 1990 movie version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson. I feel that while it stands alone as a very well made movie and contains great acting performances throughout, I think that it strays too far from the original text and layout of the play. The omissions and transposing makes the play weaker, and while it is a great screenplay, it fails in comparison to Shakespeare’s original work. The three things which bother me the most are the omission of Fortinbras and the handling of the, “To be or not to be…” soliloquy and the “Get thee to a nunnery…” scene, and Hamlet’s Oedipus complex. Omitting the subplot of Fortinbras took away the whole political aspect of the piece. It also weakened the ending. I understand that director Franco Zeffirelli wanted to keep the movie at a reasonable length, but I feel that his omissions took away a lot of the power of the original version. Maybe I am just a purist, but I much prefer the 1996 Kenneth Branagh version, even if some of the acting was weaker in it. But I would rather sit through four hours and see the whole play than sit through two and half and see a butchering of the text. I did not like that some of the long speeches were cut down and that some character said lines written for others. I absolutely love the writing that takes us from the most famous speech ever written to the scene between Hamlet and Ophelia. The intensity of the “To be or not to be…” soliloquy into the “Get thee to a nunnery…” scene is my favorite transition ever written and I think they totally blew it in this film. I felt they through away the Hamlet/Ophelia scene and turned something beautiful into something boring. The only thing that makes it work is the great acting performances of Mel Gibson and Helena-Bonham Carter. Carter is superb as Ophelia, much better than Kate Winslet, who was great in the Branagh version. I was pleasantly shocked at the performance, especially the scene where goes insane after finding out her father is dead. That is something else that greatly bothers me. I don’t like the way Gibson was directed to play the scene in which he kills Polonius. He doesn’t even play it like he cares that he did it. That also makes Hamlet seem like a man who does not have a mind. I read somewhere once that Gibson felt the same thing about the scene. Ian Holm gives a very fine performance as Polonius. Alan Bates also shines as Claudius. He gives

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