Comparing The Opening Sections Of Kenneth Branagh's And Franco Zeffirelli's Film Versions Of Hamlet

3846 words - 15 pages

Comparing the Opening Sections of Kenneth Branagh's and Franco Zeffirelli's Film Versions of Hamlet

So exactly why is it that Hamlet is still so popular with our modern
day audiences when it was written for the naïve audiences of the 17th
century? Personally I believe this is because Hamlet deals with many
fresh issues including corruption, love and the supernatural, which
still appeal to contemporary audiences. These issues are also present
in many films made recently e.g. 'The Exorcist,' 'The Others' and
'Sixth Sense' all these films are also popular. Shakespeare's Hamlet
is a play filled with revenge, ambition and faithlessness. It was
written in the 17th century though Shakespeare set it long before his
own time. Hamlet is significant as the first of Shakespeare's four
great tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. People are
still entertained by ordinary passions and ambitions with which a
modern day audience can still identify and relate to. Hamlet is
Shakespeare's longest play due to the fact that it has to deal with
the complex and complicated moral dilemma the viewers find Hamlet
facing, whether to avenge the death of his father or not. There are
many interpretations of Shakespeare's Hamlet, some say the Lion King
is based on Hamlet and though there may not be a direct and obvious
link there are many similarities, like the murder of the king for the
uncle to take the throne. I've looked at two very diverse directors,
who both interpret Hamlet's issues and moral dilemmas very
differently. I have focused on Kenneth Branagh's and Franco
Zeffirelli's versions of the play and analysed the obvious and hidden
differences. We see Branagh is very true to Shakespeare's opening yet
Zeffirelli's makes up his own beginning and uses text from other parts
of the play.

At the very beginning of Branagh's version the viewers see the words
'William Shakespeare's' in a Bold, prominent red, which stands out
against the black background. I think Branagh has used red because red
has connotations with blood, murder and killing, and black with death
and misery. Then we see the title 'Hamlet' which all together reads
'William Shakespeare's Hamlet'. This is a clever way to introduce the
play and is quite dramatic with good impact, it also suggests his
version will stay very true and close to Shakespeare's true text. The
camera pans from right to left across the word 'Hamlet'. This is
unusual as we read left to right; this gives the beginning an
interesting start. The word is engraved in a stone plinth, which looks
like the bottom of a gravestone, in what seems like a traditional old
English font typical to the era of the play. I think Branagh has done
this purposely to quickly set the mood of the play. As the camera
lifts off the word Hamlet we see there is blue lighting across the

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