Shakespeare's Hamlet Act Iv-scene V Comparison Of Branagh Vs Almereyda's Film Adaptations - Shakespeare And Film - Essay

1070 words - 5 pages

Act IV –scene V comparison of Branagh-1996 and
Almereyda’s-2000 Hamlet
Max Castellanos
Student # N00461858
Two directors: Kenneth Bragnagh and Michael Almereyda , have taken the Shakespeare classic :
Hamlet, and adapted it the play for the silver screen . Being released only 4 years apart from eachother,
both directors have taken their respective approaches to interpreting the Shakespeare classic. What we
will be taking a closer look at , is Act IV – scene V of Hamlet . Both directors have taken an innovative
approach with their interpretations ; Branagh takes a more historical approach , more Victorian era ,
filmed in well constructed sets , in what looks like a castle , whereas, Michael Almereyda’s approach ,
which is completely contrasting , is shot in New York city , taking a modern approach with well-known
actors , however , staying true to Shakespeare’s original script . By taking a deeper analysis at various
elements of their directing , we can begin to see how the Shakespeare classic has been adapted for the
big screen .
In Hamlet’s Act IV – scene V, it follows the death of Polonius who was killed by Hamlet. Hamlet has
been sent away to England with Claudius’s men. With the absence of Hamlet, Polonius and her brother
Laertes , it appears to have taken a toll on Ophelia’s sanity and has caused her to sink into a spell of
madness. In both films , The Queen , Gertrude , is asked to speak with Ophelia and is warned about her
insanity . Eventually , although hesitant, Gertrude agrees to speak with Ophelia . What follows after is
where we begin to see how the director’s interpreted the scene differently .
In Branagh’s version of the scene , unlike the original Shakespeare Hamlet where a gentleman informs
Gertrude on the status of Ophelia , Gertrude is approached not only by a Gentleman , but a woman as
well. Moving forward, we see that Ophelia is being restrained by a strait jacket . The strait jacket can be
viewed as a metaphor for Ophelia’s shattered mind and her state of madness. Ophelia has been stripped
of her beauty and her sanity and I felt the strait jacket along with the absence of vibrant colors in the
scene by most of the clothing, floors and walls , as well the enclosed room surrounded by stone pillars ,
really helped pass along a symbolic message of a prison or an insane asylum. I felt Branagh helped get
this message across with his use of camera angles in the scene as well . During the scene , we’re
introduced through different perspectives . I felt there was the perspective of sympathy , eg. When
Ophelia says “Pray you, let’s have no words of this ; but when they ask you what it means , say you this:
“ , we are given the perspective of spectators sympathizing with this poor woman’s shattered mind , but
also viewing her with worry and fear . Following this , when Ophelia begins singing , the camera
perspective is a close up shot of Ophelia , where we can look into her eyes and facial expressions and

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