In this much-simplified version of William Shakespeare's renowned play, "Hamlet", Zeffirelli has provided audiences with a rather accessible filmed version. Not only has he trimmed the play's dialogue down, soliloquies are almost non-existent. Although this means that it is more accessible to audiences who may not be familiar with the Bard's play, it downplays the play's passionate and tragic tone.
Mel Gibson as Hamlet is a believable actor. The audience feels the Prince's sorrow at losing his father and is led to sympathize with him. However, Gibson's eyes seem to wander a bit too much, lending a comic quality to the otherwise somber role. He is entertaining, and plays the role with more quirky actions than other well-known actors (like Laurence Olivier). Gibson handles the difficult Shakespearean language well, failing only when he delivered the soliloquies. He seemed to almost be reciting the soliloquies, and much of the passion in the famous "To be or not to be" speech seems to be lost.
It seems that he is reciting the speech, and not pondering on the importance of life and death, as the Bard intended. However, Gibson manages to redeem himself in the controversial scene with Queen Gertrude (Glenn Close), where he seems to bordering on true insanity due to an Oedipal complex. His tears and sorrow are very real, and the seemingly incestuous kiss between mother and son causes the audience to rethink Hamlet's main reason for hating his uncle.
Glen Close seems largely a victim of circumstance in this interpretation of the play, and is believable as a loving mother in the fore mentioned scene with Hamlet. However, her final death scene seems to be over-exaggerated and weakens an otherwise well played role. Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet's dead father are both played excellently. Alan Bates shows...