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  1. Screen Adaptations: Shakespeare's Hamlet: The Relationship Between Text and Film
  2. Shakespeare's Hamlet in Film Essay
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  4. Are these the 10 best Shakespeare screen adaptations? | Stage | The Guardian

We have looked at three different film versions.

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The part of the play I am going to look at is Hamlets monologue; "To be, or not to be" I have chosen this monologue because it is the section of the play which most people remember. It is also a very strong powerful monologue Free Essays words 4. That is the question. It was set in a generic 19th century European setting that kept a modern and ancient look from distracting the content.

The production design was eye-catching during each and every scene, which was a necessity to include, seeing as though it was a four-hour film. I felt as though Branagh accomplished the heavy task of making it a movie rather than a version of the play Better Essays words 4. Gertrude Hamlets mother just so happens to marry Claudius within one month after his death. Even though Hamlet appears to be suicidal, he shows his madness seems to be perfectly under control, wanting a relief more than actual death. Hamlet by Mel Gibson and Kenneth Branagh interpret and portray the play by Shakespeare in different ways.

The two film versions of Act IV of Hamlet have many differences and similarities. Act I Scene V is one of the most important parts of the play because; the themes of vengeance, madness and family start to develop in the play. The psychological conflict Hamlet has to deal with is shown over the quest of taking vengeance on his uncle Claudius for killing his father. Hamlets inability to act on his thoughts and plans creates a lot of dialogue and soliloquies, which displays the different mental stages of Hamlet throughout the play.

The interchange of action among Hamlet and the audience and then Hamlet and other characters shows the internal and external character of Hamlet Better Essays words 1. It has been filmed in a variety of ways. In the Mel Gibson production they add a lot to the dialogue especially in the beginning. The film begins at the funeral of King Hamlet rather than on the watch with Marcellus and Bernardo Bloomsbury Collections.

Copyright Samuel Crowl All rights reserved. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Samuel Crowl. Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare The full text of this chapter is available as a preview. Access to the full text of the entire book is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access.

If you belong to such an institution, please log in or read more about How to Order. Hamlet is the most read, discussed, and performed work in the Western literary canon. The play's cultural history is as protean and enigmatic as its fascinating but elusive central figure. The play was conceived at a moment of transition in the life of its creator, in the culture he helped to shape and fashion and in the political dynamics of the English monarchy.

And it appeared precisely as the sixteenth century, dominated by the energies released by the Reformation and the rise of the nation-state, gave way to individual self-fashioning and scientific scepticism. Hamlet, like the late-Elizabethan age it reflects, is set in the interrogative mood. Hamlet , like the late-Elizabethan age it reflects, is set in the interrogative mood. The play's atmosphere is muddled and mysterious. Is the Ghost an honest representation of Hamlet's father or a creature created by the devil?

Is Claudius his brother's legitimate successor or his fratricide? Is Gertrude innocent or guilty of adultery? Is she complicit in her first husband's murder? Does Hamlet love Ophelia or simply use her as a pawn in his 2 political gamesmanship with Claudius? Is Hamlet mad or does he merely feign madness to rattle Claudius's court?

Is Polonius a concerned parent, a savvy political counsellor, or a tiresome busybody? Are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern loyal friends or adders fanged? Is the state better managed by a smooth and cunning politician or by a distraught young man? Is Fortinbras a legitimate successor to the Danish throne or a military opportunist?

These questions of character and plot leap out and up into questions of theology and metaphysics: is there a special providence in the fall of a sparrow? What is a man? Is he angelic or bestial? Does conscience make cowards of us all? The play's origin, like its dominant atmosphere, is murky. The Hamlet story dates to the twelfth century when Saxo Grammaticus wrote a prose narrative about the famous Danish avenger Amleth. Amleth's story parallels Hamlet's in several key details: his uncle kills his father, marries his mother, suspects Amleth who feigns madness to protect himself and ships him off to England to be killed.

Amleth foils that plot, returns to Denmark, kills his uncle, and is crowned king. We have no sure way of knowing if Shakespeare had access to Saxo's version of the story but it was re-told and revised by the Frenchman Francois Belleforest in in his Histoires Tragiques , a work Shakespeare was familiar with, as he used it as a source for several of his other plays.

Belleforest added several new touches of his own, particularly by expanding the role of the Queen. In Belleforest her relationship with her husband's brother is adulterous, since it begins prior to the King's murder. But she eventually sides with her son, keeps his secret that his madness is feigned , and aids him in his attempt to gain the crown.

Further, Belleforest contributes an aura of melancholy to his conception of the avenging prince. We also know, from remarks and comments that reached print in the s, that there was a version of Hamlet , now 3 lost, in addition to Belleforest's. Many scholars assume that this so-called Ur-Hamlet was written by Shakespeare's contemporary and master of the Senecan revenge play Thomas Kyd. We know that this work added the element of the Ghost, making it likely that Shakespeare's only unique contributions to the basic bones of cast and plot are Reynaldo, Osric, the Gravediggers and Fortinbras.

What turned Shakespeare to this material as the sixteenth century came to a close? On a purely professional and commercial level his theatre company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, had just completed the expensive relocation of their theatre from north of the city walls to the Liberties across the River Thames on London's South Bank, where it was rebuilt and renamed The Globe. Shakespeare's rival company had also mounted a revival of Kyd's great revenge drama, The Spanish Tragedy , which was packing them in at the Fortune Theatre. Perhaps Richard Burbage, his company's leading actor, urged Shakespeare to return to the revenge genre he had begun his career as a tragedian with the hugely popular Titus Andronicus in response to the Kyd revival.

Biography too provides speculative source material for Hamlet , especially in the way life and art interact. Though it is dangerous to try and read from the life to the work where the writer's imagination has a habit of transforming, if not always trumping, reality, it is intriguing to remember that Shakespeare was working on Hamlet in the period where he experienced the deaths of his son Hamnet, and father John, Caesar, Henry V , and Hamlet all deal in varying ways with the struggle between fathers and sons and the transmission of masculine identity. Brutus, Cassius and even Mark Antony all seek to break from Caesar's powerful political and psychological hold on their identities.

Hal is caught between two stained fathers: the King, who has risked his legacy by unlawfully usurping a weak but legitimate ruler, and Falstaff, who as the 4 Lord of Misrule who presides over carnival, wants to turn everyday into holiday. Hal makes a shifty but subtle move to equate the two fathers so that he appears to emerge in Henry V as his own man, politically untarnished and morally reformed.

Even As You Like It touches on paternal legacies in the conflict between the brothers Oliver and Orlando after their father's death and in the contrasting paternal examples of another pair of brothers, Duke Senior and Duke Frederick. Rosalind, who adopts masculine attire when she and her cousin Celia run away to the Forest of Arden to escape Celia's paranoid father, perhaps achieves the single healthiest synthesis of male and female qualities in all of Shakespeare.

The myriad issues which link and trouble fathers and sons were certainly alive in Shakespeare's art and life when he began working on his version of the Hamlet story. If Shakespeare had both personal and material motivations for turning to Hamlet he had professional reasons as well. In the first ten years of his career he had proved to be the master of the genres of the English history play and romantic comedy.

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Perhaps he felt that he might get trapped by audience demand to continue to produce works similar to the ones which had made his fame. Falstaff, for instance, threatened to take charge of his career so, after promising his return in Henry V , he killed him off instead. This so provoked Queen Elizabeth, according to legend, that she demanded he write a new play showing Falstaff in love. Shakespeare obliged but solved his Falstaff problem by reducing the great subversive comedian to little more than the butt of jokes played upon him by two middle-class housewives. Similarly, Shakespeare tried to break the hold of romantic, festive comedy by writing a series of plays, Measure For Measure, All's Well That Ends Well , and Troilus and Cressida , that either pushed the limits of what could be successfully released and resolved within the romantic comedy genre or shattered it altogether by cynical satire.

Shakespeare was trying to turn his art and his audience to the tragic mode, and Hamlet was his vehicle. Just as Shakespeare's passage to the play was littered with personal and professional obstacles, so the text's transmission to us has similar complications. We receive Shakespeare's plays from two publishing formats: Quarto copies, which were relatively cheap single-volume editions of the plays generally published in Shakespeare's lifetime — , and the First Folio edition of the plays in Only eighteen of those thirty-six plays had previously appeared in print in Quarto editions, so had Heminges and Condell not gathered the plays into a single volume we would have lost half of Shakespeare's dramatic canon.

In some instances we have multiple Quarto editions of the plays to go along with the text of the play as it appears in the First Folio, and rarely are those versions identical. Such is the case with Hamlet. We have two quarto editions of the play, commonly referred to as Q1 and Q2, as well as the Folio text. There are substantial variations between all three versions of the play, and the text we read or watch and hear in the theatre is generally an editor's compilation of material from Q1, Q2, and the First Folio.

This brief history reveals that Shakespeare's texts are not stable and have existed in multiple versions since their inception. The truncated Q1 appears to be a version used when Shakespeare's company toured the provinces or Europe when the plague closed the theatres in London. Hamlet stands at the beginning of the great string of seven tragedies Shakespeare wrote between and , securing his reputation as the greatest English dramatist. Though not as tightly focused as Macbeth , as intensely powerful as Othello , as searing as King Lear nor as sweeping as Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet remains, for the world, his signature work.

If Shakespeare turned to the Hamlet story because of a revived Elizabethan interest in revenge tragedy he did so with a twist. In the traditional revenge play the hero as often a father as a son discovers that he or his family has been wronged. Believing that he is an upstanding moral member of the community, the aggrieved attempts to find redress through traditional channels of securing justice, but his efforts are blocked by a corrupt state or the political power of his enemy.

Eventually the revenger realizes he must take the law into his own hands and plans and executes a final bloodbath of Gothic horror-film dimensions — becoming as morally corrupt as the play's villain, who has driven him to his violent end. Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, for example, is moved to revenge by the murder of two of his sons and the rape and mutilation of his daughter Lavinia by the sons of Tamara the Queen of the Goths and consort of the Roman ruler Saturninus. Titus captures Tamara's sons, slits their throats, chops them 7 up, bakes them in a pie and serves them to their mother before killing her, Saturninus, Lavinia, and himself.

Screen Adaptations: Shakespeare's Hamlet: The Relationship Between Text and Film

Hamlet, even given his responsibility for the deaths of Polonius and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, seems an image of moral rectitude by comparison. In fact Shakespeare is at pains to show that the corrupt Claudius is both initiator of poison in the Danish Court and architect of its final bloodbath. It is Claudius who plans the final catastrophe featuring an unbated foil, an envenomed sword, and a poisoned cup of wine, not the revenge figure, Hamlet.

Hamlet always maintains, even insists upon, his moral equilibrium as he seeks his revenge against Claudius. As he says to Horatio late in the play:. Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon? He that hath killed my King and whored my mother, Popped in between th'election and my hopes, Thrown out his angle for my proper life And with such cozenage.

Is't not perfect conscience? By the fifth act the typical Renaissance revenger is so deeply embedded in the villain's ways and means that the two have become largely indistinguishable. Shakespeare's Hamlet never stoops to Claudius's lethal methods. Hamlet eventually gets his man but the other deaths Gertrude's and Laertes's are Claudius's responsibility, not his. If Hamlet is an atypical revenger he is also an unusual intellectual hero.

The world has been irresistibly drawn to Hamlet as thinker. Is he reading Plato? Hamlet's thinking is so trans-historically relevant that over the past four hundred years he has been claimed by almost every major philosophical movement as representative of their thought. His quick mind darts from one idea to another depending upon its provocation. Hamlet dramatizes thought. Shakespeare layers his play in a similar fashion. In almost every key scene it is possible to see how that moment can be read philosophically, politically, socially, and psychologically.

For instance, when Hamlet confronts his father's ghost in 1. The play repeatedly presents its characters acting within this complex matrix with only Hamlet acutely aware of how they impact on one another. All this, of course, is the play as seen through the eyes of its protagonist. Claudius has it all: his brother's crown, his brother's wife, and his brother's son. Shakespeare does not provide us with a perspective on Claudius to challenge or confirm Hamlet's except from a potentially biased source: the Ghost.

From the internal evidence we are given, G. Wilson Knight argues, Claudius appears to be an efficient and effective monarch handling both international diplomacy Fortinbras's military adventures and internal social matters Laertes's request to return to Paris, Hamlet's to Wittenberg with smooth dispatch.

Shakespeare's Hamlet in Film Essay

His new wife dotes on him; his chief advisor strives to please him; he gives himself fully to the festive moment of his coronation and marriage. The Danish Court appears to be in capable hands. In setting up this complicated clash between Hamlet and Claudius over political power, moral authority, and psychological stability, Shakespeare anchors his drama in many of the pressing issues of the late Elizabethan Age.

By the time he came to write Hamlet it was clear that Queen Elizabeth was past child-bearing age and would not produce an heir to the throne. Though she was a powerful experienced monarch the question of succession created political instability and a vacuum that invited young male aristocratic egos to jostle for attention and power.

Politics was complicated by religion.

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England had changed official religions four times in approximately fifty years. The country reverted to Catholicism 10 in the brief reign of Mary, Henry's elder daughter, and then returned to the Protestant Church of England under Elizabeth. Her long reign had created religious stability, but its approaching end once again brought long-repressed religious issues bubbling to the surface.

Shakespeare's play also captures the philosophical doubt of the age. The rise of science began to challenge philosophical and religious orthodoxy. The invention of the telescope allowed Galileo to confirm Copernicus's view of the heavens. The church had long maintained that the Earth was the centre of the universe. The sun, stars and planets revolved around it, for why would God have created man and not put him at the centre of the world? Galileo proved that we live in a heliocentric rather than geocentric universe — the earth revolves around the sun.

Man is on the fringe, not at the centre. This finding, along with others, began to shake the foundation of religious assumptions. By the end of the century, doubt especially as it is expressed in the works of Montaigne was well on the way to routing faith as the dominant intellectual attitude of the age. Remarkably many of these political, religious and philosophical cross-currents work their way into the fabric of Hamlet. The play is launched by a regicide: a cunningly disguised usurpation. Though based on a hidden crime, Claudius's new dispensation appears solid, stable, and sincere.

His reign is then unsettled and destabilized by Hamlet's covert civil war against his uncle, sparked by his initial aversion to his mother's remarriage and then by his discovery of his uncle's fratricide. The struggle between Hamlet and Claudius is political: Hamlet wants to avenge his father, cleanse the corrupt state, and replace Claudius on the throne.

The religious issues in the play are even murkier. Hamlet is a student at Wittenberg: Luther's university.

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Denmark is 11 presumably a Protestant country but the play features a Ghost confined to Purgatory until his unconfessed sins are burned away. Both the Ghost and the idea of Purgatory belong to Catholic rather than Protestant belief. Shakespeare avoids including any voice of institutional religion in the play except the nameless Doctor of Divinity note he does not call him a Priest who presides at Ophelia's burial.

The play's view of religion appears to be as unstable as its depiction of politics and the social order. The play takes wing on the philosophical speculations alive in the Elizabethan atmosphere. An instructive moment, when Hamlet cleverly uses the abstract to both disguise and reveal the ways in which philosophy and experience confound one another, comes in his first encounter with his Wittenberg schoolmates, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

He seems as genuinely glad to see them as he had been earlier when greeting Horatio, and only their limp and lame responses to his questions about what has brought them from Germany to Denmark bring his new-found suspiciousness once again into play. He quickly gets them to confess that they were sent for by Claudius. Confronted by another example of the world's dishonesty friends turned spies for the King he sets out to explain his melancholy behaviour to them in the Neoplatonic language of the university classroom, which saw man as God's noblest creation, the crucial element in the great chain of being linking the material and the angelic worlds.

He provides Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with a brilliant lecture on his condition but in an abstract language he knows will only confuse them rather than provide the clarification they seek to report to the King. The speech mounts to this climax:. What piece of work is a man — how noble in reason; how infinite in faculties, in form and moving; how express and admirable in action; how like an angel in apprehension; how like a god; the beauty of the world; the paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me — nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

His mother's speedy remarriage, his father's murder, Ophelia's rejection of his love, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's betrayal of a friendship have all presented Hamlet with lessons from experience which challenge and radically undermine the romantic idealism expressed in the Neoplatonic view of man Hamlet has just described and then exploded in his dazzling disquisition.

Here he finds his formulation about the quintessence of man in fending off his former friends. Hamlet is a rich depository of unresolved issues about religion, scepticism, the politics of succession, and the fashioning of an individual identity circulating in the Elizabethan period. On a more personal and private level it hints at a crisis in Shakespeare's life and art prompted by the deaths of his son and father and the 13 commercial risk he assumed in becoming a shareholder in The Globe.

Are these the 10 best Shakespeare screen adaptations? | Stage | The Guardian

Precisely because these issues and ideas are not resolved, the play has haunted subsequent generations untouched by the immediate circumstances of its creation. For at least the last two hundred years Hamlet, and to a lesser extent Hamlet , has been shaped by the currents of the age. To the nineteenth-century Romantics especially Goethe in Germany and Coleridge in England Hamlet was a brooding, passive figure with the soul of a sensitive melancholy poet.

We all find something of ourselves in Hamlet and it is not surprising that powerful poets like Goethe and Coleridge projected their own fears and anxieties on the character. The image we inherit of Hamlet as the melancholy passive poet, despite strong alternative conceptions delivered in performance by modern and contemporary actors as diverse as Richard Burton, Nicol Williamson, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh and Jude Law, comes directly from the Romantics.