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HAMLET: The Assignment

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Tan Wei Jie Joel (31) 3.11 HAMLET: The Assignment TNT Britain's Theatrical version and Ethan Hawke's movie version of the play 'Hamlet' were vastly different in virtually all aspects. From the portrayal of characters in performances, the sets, paraphernalia and especially the fact that one is based in our modern world, (New York, 2000) both differ to large extents. Hamlet in the TNT's version does not dwell on about his Father's death in contrast to the Hamlet played by Ethan Hawke, who is constantly watching videos to reminisce about times he had with his Father. The two actors portray Hamlet, the main character, in a different way. In the play version, he is very vocal and blunt. Hamlet's interaction with the ghost however, is more dramatic in the theater version, with ear-splitting shrieks and squeals. This reflected the influence of the supernatural and unworldly during Shakespeare's time in the Renaissance Period. The movie version had a very different influence on me compared to TNT's play version. For example, in TNT's version, Hamlet is a Prince with zero influence; however, he illustrated as a photographer who instantaneously shows his peripheral nature towards the King. ...read more.


It was also very disappointing as I anticipated relating the version set in our modern world better. Ethan Hawke as hamlet is more subdued and would frequently converse in whispers, even before the discovery of the ghost. Both versions however, execute a number of common themes. Ophelia and Hamlet's relationship was romantic rather than two best friends. Polonius portrayed almost like a jester in both films, with similar themes of ironic humor in both. I also felt that TNT's version of Hamlet instilled a segment on humor to relax the live audience, using the two 'malicious friends' of Hamlet, Rosancrantz and Guildstern as comedians with ridiculous antics on stage, similar to that in Macbeth with the drunken porter. I feel that this is excellent in plays, as it helps relax the audience compared to the movie, where it was too serious. The movie, being set in 2000, gave me a strange feeling to see Shakespearean characters and speech played out in our modern world. A play with many different sets would have too much waiting time in between scenes. The costumes used in TNT's play also demonstrated some knowledge of the garments donned during that period, with the King and Queen, Polonius, in garments adorned with purple, symbolizing royalty. ...read more.


Thus, the setting was dull but successful in bringing fluidity. The movie alternatively used special effects to present a 'half transparent' actual actor, which was more fitting as it imitate the script, in the sense that the ghost actually bear a resemblance to his Father, rather than a bare and faceless mummy. On the flipside, even though the movie version depicted today's world, the use of Shakespearean tongue did not made it easier to relate to but made it feel out of place. In conclusion, I felt to a large extent the TNT's version was better then the movie version. It was exciting and original and the characters were profound. Furthermore, for a person who has never read even an abridged version of 'Hamlet' it gave me sufficient understanding. The absence of creativity in the movie version could be because of the director's reluctance to stray to far from the actual script, (but Shakespeare in the year 2000?) For example, all we saw about Ophelia was a crying woman with a depressed countenance the entire length of the movie. It was also very disappointing as I anticipated relating better to the movie version, as it was closer to us as it had a modern setting. ...read more.

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