LIT 380: Shakespeare in Film

Branagh’s Hamlet

Branagh’s version of Hamlet seems significantly more dramatic than it needs to be. The fast speech, though necessary in order to keep the length of the film to a minimal 4 hours, makes everything seem urgent and amplified. Actors are often out of breath when delivering lines so quickly to meet the time constraints, making even slow-paced scenes seem too fast and dramatic. The flashback Branagh sneaks in where Hamlet and Ophelia are sharing an intimate moment even, seemed like it was rushed due to the quickness of the speech being delivered. Time is supposed to stand still in an event so passionate and intimate, so the delivery of the lines seemed to be unfitting for that certain flashback.
It does not help that Branagh likes to overdramaticize everything, and since he both directs and acts, there is no escape from the drama. When he delivers his lines, he is always upbeat, stressing lines and waving his arms in excitement where none is warranted. This does not fit well with Hamlet being mad, which in my mind should be down and gloomy. Even certain scenes, such as the forest scene with Hamlets ghost, seems to be a little overdramaticized. The crakling of the earth and the eerie mist coming out from the ground seemed too much for the situation. When reading that scene in the play, I didn’t expect anything more than a cryptic whisper from the ghost, “swear.”

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One Comment

  1. aroback says:

    I too thought the cracking of the Earth was a bit much, especially the repeated shots and then the same shots in reverse.