Shakespeare and Film Hamlet
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Leeon Graham Shakespeare and Film Hamlet "Hamlet's story is essentially one revolving around the idea of the Oedipus complex - the son/mother relation is at heart of this drama". "Hamlets story is essentially one revolving around the idea of the famous theory of the Oedipus Complex. The critical applications of the famous theory to the tragedy of 'Hamlet' are untold"(www.hamlet.com). Kenneth Branagh makes a wonderful attempt in capturing many film technique's which enhance the underlying heart of the movie which takes place between 'Hamlet and his mother. 'Hamlet' awakens his repressed incestuous and parricidal desires. The disgust which the remarriage of his mother arouses him, as well as the violent behaviour during their confrontation in the Queen's bedroom, are signs of the jealousy which he constantly experiences, even if he is unconscious. Hamlet is absolutely horrified by the thought that his mother could feel desire for Claudius, whom he describes as a 'Murderer an villain,/ A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe/ Of your precedent lord'. "Such an act, that blurs the grace and blush of modesty, Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose from the fair forehead of an innocent love and sets a blister there, makes marriage vows as false as dicers' oaths-O, such a deed as from the body of contradiction plucks the very soul, and sweet religion makes a rhapsody of words.
Everyone agrees that we have no original stage directions for Shakespeare's plays and that this is the source of particular puzzlement in Hamlet. Considering the middle of 'Hamlet' 'get thee to a nunnery' speech, in which he suddenly asks Ophelia "where is your father?" and speaks so cruelly to her: if a stage direction indicated that Hamlet has become aware that Polonius and Claudius were spying on him and that Ophelia is in on it, we would understand his severe change in tone. Many directors have adopted this convention, as does Branagh: A Tiny noise. She glances across the room. And then it dawns..... It's a trap. She has been unable to be purely honest.... Hamlet (continuing his lines) " Where's your father?" the most agonising decision of her young life where she will betray him just as his mother did. Ophelia "at home my lord....." And with that phrase their love is dead. Hamlets shift in emotions as he is forced to recognise that just as he feared he cannot trust the women he loves, follows not from the lines but from the stage directions in which Branagh has wisely input. He and his company have engaged the text and made it tell a story and have created dramatic action, body language, facial expressions and kinetics.
Later on in the movie Hamlet starts to suspect his love for his Mother, "That I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft". Here, he tries to not let her know that at this, he is playing mad in reverse. Through out the Movie Hamlet is dressed in Black with his Mother always-dressed in lighter colours to segregate the two characters and let the audience know there is a stern divide between them. His dress code shows that from the minute we see him, we know that it ends in tragedy. In conclusion "Branagh's splendid film is nothing less than a monument to the highest of art of the western canon" (Freud). It is surely the most ambitious Hamlet on film and it may well be the grandest cinematic rendering of any Shakespeare play. Branagh has left in every word of Shakespeare's poetry. He has not changed a line precisely for this reason he has achieved something truly extraordinary. He has interpreted in detailed stage directions in every scene in a way that invites our understanding. Branagh has given one of greatest texts a context, and it is not about psychopathology. He has rediscovered the moral adventure of Shakespeare's Prince and the son/mother relationship, which is at the heart of this amazing drama.
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