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Explore the similarities and differences in the opening scenes of Branagh's, Zeffirelli's and Shakespeare's Hamlet.

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Introduction

Explore the similarities and differences in the opening scenes of Branagh's, Zeffirelli's and Shakespeare's Hamlet Shakespeare's original Hamlet was written in text, however Kenneth Branagh created a film version of the play as did Franco Zeffirelli. Firstly there are many advantages that film productions have over plays written in text only. For example, Shakespeare's Hamlet cannot portray certain visual elements that can be vital in the understanding of a play - but film has that advantage and therefore can add such details as settings, characters and their costumes and body language. Even the way that a line is spoken can make a big difference in its portrayal to the audience. For example in Branagh's version of Hamlet, whilst talking about the ghost he pauses before he says the word, "apparition," which gives the impression he is confused as to how he will describe the spirit seen of King Hamlet. ...read more.

Middle

Stand and unfold yourself. / Long live the King! / Barnado? / He. / You come most carefully upon your hour." Both Shakespeare's and Branagh's Hamlet are different in the way Branagh's is in the format of film and Shakespeare's is only text. However they are very similar in the way they both create a dark, corrupt atmosphere - Branagh with his dramatic imagery and Shakespeare with his broken, short dialogue. Also with Shakespeare's Hamlet, Francisco says, "'Tis bitter cold, and I am sick at heart," just this single sentence adds to the atmosphere that something is seriously wrong in a very evil way. Another way in which Branagh used dramatic imagery - when the ghost appears for the first time in front of the men. The ghost is the image of the King in full battle armour floating towards them with dramatic music in the background. ...read more.

Conclusion

All you note is the negativity of the Kings funeral. Although both films' opening scenes are very different in many ways they are both similar in another way. They both start with a negative theme. Branagh's version shows the dead King Hamlet's ghost haunting the troubled minds of the guards and this reinforces the sense of evil captured that night. Zeffirelli's version shows the great castle and all the knights wearing black for the King's funeral while Hamlet's mother hysterically weeps over the still body of the King. Therefore in this way they are very similar. Another big difference is the running time of both films. Branagh's film's running time is 232 minutes, which is a long time compared to just 130 minutes of Zeffirelli's version of Hamlet. This difference accounts for the fact that Zeffirelli cut out a great deal of the original Shakespearean text whereas Branagh included almost all of it in the entire film. ...read more.

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