Hamlet Video Comparison. This review compares the Branagh and Jacobi versions of Hamlet.

Essay by mahayaCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2003

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Hamlet Video Comparison Essay

"To be or not to be, that is the question" (3,1,56) that the different directors must ask themselves when choosing the design of their play. The tragic play, Hamlet by William Shakespeare, has had many interpretations from the single script. Directors Derek Jacobi and Franco Zeffirelli have both directed the same play, Hamlet, yet the differences in the renditions of the play emphasize different aspects. In the nunnery scene, the differences between the two versions' setting, camera angles, and characterization accentuate the different points the directors are trying to present.

In Jacobi's version of Hamlet, the setting is appears to be happy and uplifting. The nunnery scene takes place in a well-lit 19th century castle. The bright appearances contrast the depression and sickness that the characters of the play feel. The mirrors in the regal room also emphasize the theme of appearances. Polonius also uses the mirrors to hide himself and "by indirections find directions out".

(2,1,66) The well lit luxurious room in the Jacobi version contrasts the drafty dark castle in the Zeffirelli version. The run down castle shows how the state of Denmark is falling apart. The motif of sickness and decay are emphasized in this version, while deceit and appearances are emphasized in the Jacobi version.

Jacobi's direction in the setting of the camera angles are very different from those in Zeffirelli's version. In the nunnery scene, Jacobi utilizes close ups and the camera is mostly static. This presents a much more intimate feel. The facial expressions are much more visible and clear, and when Hamlet and Ophelia are talking, the camera switches off between them. This puts emphasis on both Hamlet and Ophelia and their relationship. Zeffirelli on the other hand has the camera focus more on Hamlet. The camera also moves...