Essay, Research Paper: Hamlet On TV

Literature: Shakespeare

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Hamlet has been produced in a variety of ways, but making a movie out of Hamlet
is very different. When producing Hamlet on film there are some liberties that
are taken for either artistic benefit or to keep it shorter. These liberties are
up to the director’s interpretation of Hamlet. The director’s
interpretations make each Hamlet production different. Unique differences make
each Hamlet interesting. When I watch a production of Hamlet I find myself
looking at the dialogue. I try to remember how Shakespeare wrote it and then
compare it to how the actors are performing it. The dialogue in Hamlet is key
and the success of a production depends on having it performed successfully. 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. The Mel Gibson version also takes a lot of
dialogue out of Hamlet including the whole idea of Fortinbras. He is not in the
1990 production so that it is shorter. As for the 1964 version where Anthony
Hopkins plays Claudius, the dialogue is almost exactly the way Shakespeare wrote
it. In the Laurence Olivier version the dialogue is very near the original. The
production is artistically narrated rather than all being said aloud. I think
this production was very interesting and provides more explanation of Hamlet as
you hear some of his great speeches as his thoughts rather than speech. The 1948
and the 1964 production were very near the actual dialogue while the 1990
version with Gibson had several differences. All three were very good but the
dialogue in the Laurence Olivier production was much better. Character portrayal
can make one Hamlet production better than another. In the Mel Gibson version of
Hamlet Laertes seems like he is weak. The actor playing him did not have a
commanding presence and he had a soft voice. However, the Laertes in the 1964
production was strong and kept a demeanor that commanded respect. The Laertes in
the early production in 1948 was not all that prominent in the first scenes but
at the end he became a big part of the play like he should. As for Hamlet,
Laurence Olivier was the best Hamlet. He caught the concept well and performed
it marvelously. I did enjoy the Hamlet Mel Gibson played well because when he
insults the king the insults seem more pronounced and easy to understand. Mel
Gibson’s played the insane part of Hamlet well too. I think this is the best
part of his character. His face and understanding of the text made it seem more
realistic than when I read it. The Hamlet in the 1964 production was plain; he
did not have any uniqueness but did play the part well. All three Poloniuses in
these productions played well as they supported the role of the king. The
Polonius in the Gibson version though did an extremely good performance. His
pronunciation of the text and his facial expression as well as his body language
was absolutely marvelous. By far Glenn Close played the best queen she played
the innocent part well. She was playful at the beginning and her character
degenerated to the sad ending. She did everything right; the facial expressions,
the body language, the text; she did it all well. The casts of all the films
were great. The cast of Gibson was grand and Olivier’s cast was good as well,
but the cast in which Anthony Hopkins played in 1964 was the best. They fit
together well and complimented each other. The character portrayal in Gibson’s
version was fun while the portrayal of characters in the Laurence Olivier
production was great. All three productions were very enjoyable though. When
making a movie out of a play the director has to worry about keeping it
enjoyable for the audience, therefore he might want to make it shorter. The
Gibson version is obvious of this as it starts with a scene Shakespeare never
wrote. It started with the funeral of the dead king. They also added a marriage
celebration scene. These two scenes help people who have not studied the text to
understand what has happened in the play. To put these two scenes in they took
out Act 1 Scene 1 from the original text. The Gibson version also took out much
of the middle scenes but it still was enjoyable. The Laurence Olivier version
used narration to make the scene seem like he was thinking and we could hear his
thoughts. It allowed him to use his face to express a whole lot more since he
was not talking as the speeches were read. The 1964 version kept pretty close to
the scenes but changed a little. The ghost scenes did not actually show a ghost,
not even when Hamlet met with it. They shined a light on the faces of the actors
to make it seem like a ghost had shown up of camera. It was artistic, but I
prefer to see the ghost. The scene changes in all three were good and did not
change the play enough to be something other than Shakespeare’s Hamlet. All
three version of Hamlet that I watched were interesting. Overall I enjoyed the
Mel Gibson version the best. It had the best sets; it was a castle. One of my
favorite actors is Mel Gibson so I was anxious to see how well he would do as
Hamlet. The costumes in the play were very nice and were used as and artistic
tool to show that Hamlet was mad. The queen was excellent and very enjoyable to
watch. I like this Polonius best of all because he seemed so concerned with
standing in the court that he showed little care for his Ophelia. The Hamlet
that Laurence Olivier played was excellent to the end. When I read the book I
imagined Hamlet being just like he played him. The use of dark scenery in this
version did well to express the depressing mood of Hamlet and the entire state
of Denmark. The character interaction was great, as it was less obvious in this
version that they were scripted lines. These old fashion actors produced a good
old fashion quality. The 1964 version was decent. I liked how loud and it seemed
almost boisterous Anthony Hopkins played Cluadius. It used the same dark effects
that the 1948 production used, but it was also in color; that is always a good
thing. A lot was different in the forty year that was between the productions of
these Hamlets. They were enjoyable and showed me how Hamlet can be interpreted
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