2 Versions Of Hamlet Compared & Contasted Essay, Research Paper
The play “Hamlet, prince of Denmark”, by William Shakespeare being of such a complicated variety of themes, contains many different story lines as well as being very extensive in nature makes it quite a challenge to be produced and acted. On paper, the reader can translate things, as they like. Since Shakespeare is not around to tell us the meaning of every theme or the truth about every nook and cranny about his works. It is up to the reader to decide what the importance of everything is. Thus when a producer decides to create a film based on “Hamlet” it is most certain that his creation will vary from any others. Each will create their own version of the story, stressing some issues more than others as well as completely leaving sections out. In this essay I will compare Kenneth Branagh’s presentation of the ghost with Franco Zeffirelli’s.
In Kenneth Branagh’s version, the ghost is introduced at the very beginning of the film. We are unclear as to the purpose of the ghost’s visit through this vague first impression we are presented. Is he a good or evil spirit? He most certainly does not seem to be friendly and is reluctant to speak . One might question the whole purpose of the visit in the first place. It does not state the nature of its appearance and seems to almost attack the guards. However, Zeffirelli skips this first interlude completely and we are aware of the encounter with the ghost through a conversation Horatio and the guards have with Hamlet. In both film versions, as is presented in the play, Hamlet seems to believe what he is told without question.
The second visit from the ghost is certainly the most important in analyzing the intentions as well as the actual character of the ghost. In Brannagh’s version the second appearance of the ghost is similar to a scene from a horror movie. The way Hamlet is portrayed running through the woods, with thick fog rising from the earth, and a fast paced rhythm following his actions all resemble elements of a cliched horror movie. This first gives us the impression that we are to meet some evil stuff. Why else would he create this whole sci-fi image that totally does not fit in with the rest of the movie. Then the very instant we see the ghost’s pale blue eyes we get the sense that this thing has seen the darkest corners of the fires of hell. Right here is where his identity takes shape. (Even though when we cut to the flashback of the King’s murder he has the very same eyes. In the Ghost, the eyes are terrifying evidence of his supernatural ordeals; on a live character, they look artificial and take away from the ghost’s individuality as a supernatural being.) When we hear the ghost speak it is clear that this Ghost is angry. It is also clear that he is a supernatural being and wants things to get done. But what disturbs me is that there is very little, if any emotion being displayed here. The most immediate response is that I could not get a sense that the two Hamlets truly cared for one another. Consequently, Hamlet’s revenge comes across as politically motivated more than anything else. We begin to question if the Ghost is an evil one or this spirit is sincere. Brannagh seemed to stress the political aspects of this more than the love and the honor of the family. I didn’t get the sense that there was any emotions displayed between these two characters. This brings me to question the motive and origin of the Ghost. This would also justify the way that Hamlet delayed taking any course of action whatsoever and stalled to do anything at all, seemingly incapacitated. Everything is now questionable. Is the Ghost an evil spirit? Are its’ motives political? Why was there no emotion displayed by either one of them?
In Zeffirelli’s version of Hamlet the second appearance of the Ghost was the complete opposite of Branagh’s. We are presented with a touching presentation of the Ghost. There is no horror and nothing eerie about him at all. As opposed to Branagh and the text’s description of the Ghost in full armor, including helmet we see the Ghost wearing a robe similar to rags. We get to see his whole face; lines of care, of sorrow, of anguish are not merely etched into his face, they are chiseled. We see a great deal of pain and suffering. We see boundless regret as well as boundless love for his son; in Hamlet’s eyes we see a combination of horror, sadness, and love. It is a scene of the love and strong bond between a father and a son. And right there, right in this scene lies the key strength of this film. Just as we see the love the Ghost bears for his son as well as his wayward queen, we also see that Hamlet reciprocates that love. This surge of emotion carries Hamlet through the play like the fuel that powers an engine to continuously move forward. This Ghost is very human like, sincere and acts as a father would act toward his son. There is no question of this spirits’ motive. This also brings up the inexcusable delay of action on Hamlet. There is no doubt that this spirit is not evil. He merely wants to be avenged so that he can be in peace or at least partially relieved of his very tired and tormented soul, until he pays his dues.
These two Ghosts, although taken out of the same play, are displayed to us very differently. Brannagh decided to add a little touch of horror to the Ghost’s character. This gives Hamlet the best excuse to delay any course of action due to the simple fact that the spirit he saw was no ordinary one. I know I would question the origin of that thing. As for Zefferelli’s version, the Ghost portrayed in that film seemed like that of a man who lived 200 long years. It was calm and spoke very clearly with no rage in it whatsoever. This of course leads us to question Hamlet’s delay. In both films this interlude between the two Hamlets sets the tone for the rest of the play the short one before and the other unexpected arrival of this spirit sort of add a little bit to the play but nothing significant.