Franco Zeffirelli and Kenneth Branagh both created a movie portrayal of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Each screenwriter used various methods of cinematography to convey their interpretation of this famous work. Both movies were produced in the same decade. While the theme remained the same throughout both movies, there were significant differences in the portrayal of the various significant characters. Zeffirelli and Branagh each possessed their own personal interpretation of the text of the play which resulted in two movies that utilized different imagery to portray the main characters.
The movie begins with the two guards seeing the apparition of old king Hamlet. Zeffirelli portrays Hamlet as confused and scared as he follows the voice and shadow of the ghost. The setting is dark with mysterious shadows and Hamlet appears to be uncertain about his own sanity as he follows the voice of the ghost. Zeffirelli's use of imagery is evident when Hamlet expresses raw emotions on seeing the ghost of his father and hearing of the corruption within his family (Hamlet). Branagh uses symbolism to depict the ghost as the statue of old king Hamlet. Hamlet chases the ghost but is somewhat uncertain about the validity of this figure. Branagh's use of the setting and imagery sets the stage for Hamlet's future mental decay. The emotions that are expressed by Hamlet in Branagh's version are somewhat guarded and cautious, giving evidence of his unwillingness to fully accept the message from the spirit (Hamlet William Shakespeare).
The main setting for both movies is a castle located in Denmark. Zeffirelli uses a medieval European style fortress that includes dark hallways and corridors. The lighting effects are dark throughout the movie giving the illusion of deceit and mystery (Hamlet). Branagh's castle is 19th century European, full of two-sided mirrors, false walls, and hidden corridors. With the addition of light, there is the illusion of large and open. Zeffirelli's characters had more medieval style costumes with older rustic scenery, while Branagh's characters were clothed in more modern uniforms and dresses with rich classic scenery throughout the castle and courtyard (William Hamlet Shakespeare).
During the play, "The Mouse Trap", both directors use of dialogue is diverse. Language plays an important role for interpreting the text, “Although we recognize it emanating from a particular character, it seems to fill the screen and, in spite of its invisibility, commands the viewer's attention, sometimes at the expense of the visual scene (Lundeen).” In Branagh's version, Hamlet is rather excited about the prospect of the play and his language is taunting and arrogant. The plot diverges at this point and Hamlet interrupts the play to question his mother Gertrude and the king Claudius on their interpretation of the play up to this...