Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hamlet Act Three

1. Write an explication of Hamlet's 3.1 soliloquy/monologue. Label this "3.1 Soliloquy Explication" and share your Google Doc with me. You explanation must work through the soliloquy sentence by sentence, explaining not only the what Hamlet is saying but also analyzing how Hamlet says it. Consider what is significant about and what is suggested by specific figurative imagery, sentence structures, shifts in focus, pronouns, variations in rhythm, etc. Also, consider particulars in this soliloquy/monologue in relation to the rest of the play. Due by class time on Friday.

Note: 3.1 Make sure that your explication of the "to be or not to be" speech analyzes both what each sentence means and how each sentence conveys that meaning with rhetorical strategies. Make sure your explication does not incorporate interpretations borrowed from sources other than the notes provided to you. Uncited paraphrases of other people's analyses is plagiarism and will result in a zero, a call home, and notification of the assistant principal.
 To be, or not to be: that is the question (3.1.64-98).

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer (65)
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks (70)
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, (75)
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, (80)
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life, (85)
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of? (90)
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry, (95)
And lose the name of action.-- Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
NOTES: [Source:  Amanda Mabillard, B.A. (Honors) is a freelance writer specializing in Shakespeare, Renaissance political theory, theatre history, comparative literary history, and linguistic topics in Renaissance literature.]
slings ] Some argue that "slings" is a misprint of the intended word, "stings". "The stings of fortune" was a common saying in the Renaissance. But in the context of the soliloquy, "slings" likely means "sling-shot" or "missile". This seems in keeping with the reference to "arrows" - both can do great harm.
outrageous fortune ] Fortune is "outrageous" in that it is brazenly defiant.
And by opposing end them ] If you cannot suffer the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" then you must end your troubles with suicide. [Mr. Cook’s note: other critics read this phrase more broadly.]
consummation ] Final settlement of all matters.
rub ] Impediment. The term comes from bowling, where the "rub" is any obstacle the pushes the ball off course.
shuffled off this mortal coil ] To separate from one's body (mortal coil = body).
respect ] Consideration.
of so long life ] So long-lived.
time ] Time = temporal life.
his quietus make ] Settle his own account.
bare bodkin ] A "mere dagger". Bodkin was a Renaissance term used to describe many different sharp instruments, but it makes the most sense here to assume Shakespeare means a dagger.
fardels ] Burdens.
No traveller returns ] Since Hamlet has already encountered his father's ghost, and thus proof of the afterlife, this line has raised much debate. There are four major current theories regarding this line: 1) Shakespeare made an egregious error and simply failed to reconcile the appearance of the ghost and Hamlet's belief that human beings do not return; 2) Hamlet has earlier revealed that he doubts the authenticity of the ghost and, therefore, he does not believe his father has truly returned; 3) Hamlet is referring only to human beings returning in the flesh and not as mere shadows of their former selves; 4) the entire soliloquy is misplaced and rightfully belongs before Hamlet has met his father's ghost. In my estimation, theory #4 seems the most plausible.
bourn ] Limit or boundary.
native hue of resolution ] Natural. Here Hamlet refers to the "natural color of courage".
pale cast of thought ] Sickly tinge of contemplation.
great pitch and moment ] Of momentous significance. The "pitch" was the name given to the highest point in a falcon's flight before it dives down to catch its prey.
With this regard their currents turn awry ] A reference to the sea and its tides: "Because of their thoughts, their currents become unstable".
Soft you now ] "But hush!". Hamlet hears Ophelia begin to pray and he must cut short his private ponderances.
Nymph ] See commentary below.
orisons ] Prayers.

2. Write a shuttle comparison of two performances of Hamlet's 3.1 soliloquy/monologue. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Remember to begin with a bold insight about meaningful similarities and/or differences. Then, develop that insight by explaining very specific acting and directing choices. Due by class time on Monday.

First clip: 3.1 monologue, directed by Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet played by Kenneth Branagh (1996)
[(1) Here the monologue is in context as it appears in the second quarto and first folio. (2) I know what you're going to ask. The answer is one-way mirror.]

Second clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Hamlet played by Mel Gibson (1990)
[Here the soliloquy is lifted out of its context in 3.1 and delivered on its own. Hamlet walks down into the catacombs where his father and others are buried.]

Third clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Michael Almereyda, Hamlet played by Ethan Hawke (2000)
[Here again the soliloquy is lifted out of its context in 3.1 and delivered on its own, but this time Hamlet is in a Blockbuster video store. Why?, you ask. Because in this version Hamlet creates the Mousetrap by editing clips of film into a montage depicting something like the murder of his father. He's in Blockbuster looking for film clips to include in his montage.]

Fourth clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Gregory Doran, Hamlet played by David Tennant (2009)
[Here the monologue is in context again. I chose an edit of this speech that shows a little bit of the context at the beginning and end of the speech.]

Fifth clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Laurence Olivier, Hamlet played by Laurence Olivier (1948)
[Out of the 3.1. again but with suggestive water imagery that plays off of lines in the speech and elsewhere in the play.]

3. Pick one option (300+ word response)

Option #1 Write a shuttle comparison of two performances of "The Murder of Gonzago" ("the Mousetrap").  Remember to begin with a bold insight about meaningful similarities and/or differences. When comparing consider Hamlet's behavior, the play-within-the-play itself, and the reactions of Ophelia, Gertrude, and Claudius. Then, develop that insight by explaining very specific acting and directing choices. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Due by class time Tuesday.

Option #2. Write a mini-essay explaining in detail how director Michael Almereyda's "Mouse Trap" uses clips of film to express Hamlet's feelings about his mother and to attempt to "catch the conscience of the king." Then, evaluate how effectively the collaged film conveys the ideas expressed in Shakespeare's text. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Due by class time Tuesday.

Option #3. Write a mini-essay explaining how you would improve one of the versions (your choice) with very specific directorial and acting choices. Defend your choices. Explain exactly how your changes would improve the scene. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Due by class time Tuesday.

First Clip: 3.2 "Murder of Gonzago," directed by Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet played by Kenneth Branagh, Ophelia played by Kate Winslet, Gertrude played by Julie Christie, Claudius played by Derek Jacobi (1996) [The full text is performed but in a Victorian rather than Elizabethan setting. Click here for more on the style of Branagh's Hamlet, here for more on Victorian theatre, here for more on the Victorian era.]

Second Clip: 3.2 "Murder of Gonzago," directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Hamlet played by Mel Gibson, Ophelia played by Helena Bonham Carter, Gertrude played by Glenn Close, Claudius played by Alan Bates (1990)
[This clip begins with Hamlet's line "You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife" (3.2.289), but instead of this line causing the King to rise, Zeffirelli has the players enact a partial version of the dumb show here. Prior to the beginning of this clip the Player King and the Player Queen--both played by men in the Elizabethan tradition--have exchanged a heavily cut version of the lines written for the occasion by Hamlet. Hamlet has also already spoken to Ophelia ("May I lie my head upon your lap") and Gertrude ("Madam, how like you this play?"). His manner, prior to the clip, is strangely playful (or playfully strange) and visibly anxious, perhaps an adult indulging in adolescent childishness.]

Third Clip: 3.2 "Mouse Trap," abridged, is directed by Michael Almereyda. Ethan Hawke plays Hamlet, Julia Stiles plays Ophelia, Diana Venora plays Gertrude, Kyle MacLachlan plays Claudius. (2000)
[Almereyda sets his Hamlet in mid-1990s Manhattan. Prior to this scene we have watched Hamlet visiting Blockbuster Video and editing film into a collage. Prior to the clip when Hamlet says "May I lie my head upon your lap" Ophelia pushes him away.] 

Fourth Clip / Fourth Clip part 2: 3.2 "Murder of Gonzago, abridged, is directed by Gregory Doran. David Tennant plays Hamlet, Mariah Gale plays Ophelia, Penny Downie plays Gertrude, and Patrick Steward plays Claudius. (2009)
[If you want to skip Hamlet's lecture on acting and his bromantic speech to Horatio, start 3:30 or so into the first clip. The "Murder of Gonzago" ends about 3:30 into the second clip. Doran seems to set the film in a chimerical present day monarchy, mixing modern clothing with pre-modern decor. The Player King and Player Queen's speeches are cut to the essential lines but the scene is otherwise more or less intact.]     

4. Read and take notes on 3.2.297 (the end of the play) through 3.3 for class on Monday. (That's about eight pages.) (When reading 3.3 think of dramatic irony; think of the relationship between thought and action.) Answer the following questions in your Hamlet notes.
3.2 After Claudius ends The Murder of Gonzago how does Hamlet use wit to critique Rosencrantz and Guildenstern then Polonius?
3.3 How does Shakespeare use dramatic irony in this scene to dramatize Hamlet's claim that "conscience does make cowards of us all/And thus the native hue of resolution/is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought"? (In other words, how does the dramatic irony in this scene show how the impulse to act can be weakened by thought?)

5. Now read 3.4 and answer the following questions in your Hamlet notes.
How does William Shakespeare use dramatic irony early in the scene? How is this a turning point in the play?
How does Shakespeare use specific figurative imagery to characterize Hamlet's feelings toward his mother and her feelings toward Hamlet?


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  2. Gloria K

    Branagh’s version of the 3.1 soliloquy expresses contemplation of vengence whereas Oliver’s version shows contemplation of suicide, by using movement, setting and a symbolic object. Olivier’s version has him completely isolated, looking down at the sea, making the soliloquy more of a contemplation of suicide. In saying “Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”, then taking out a knife and pointing it to his neck, the soliloquy seems like it would end in a suicide. Branagh’s decision to use the one-way mirror expressed the idea from the play,that Hamlet knows, or suspects that Claudius and Polonius are spying on him. Branagh walks into the room around the same time, Claudius and Polonius slam the door behind the room with the one way mirror. Branagh walks about the room suspiciously, indicating that he heard the noise, meaning that parts of his soliloquy are directed at Claudius. In the middle of the scene he starts to slowly walk towards the one-way mirror, giving the effect of confronting himself, and his inner thoughts and struggles. There is a sudden rouse of music in Olivier’s version, when he wakes up after saying “to sleep, giving the idea that he had an epiphany about life. He seems to be contemplating about life, and its worth.
    Branagh seems to be addressing Claudius when he says “his quietus make”, and aims his knife in the same area Claudius stands on the other side of the mirror in Branagh’s version. His tone of voice is now more of a threatening tone, and he seems more angry than pensive. He still has his sword in the end of the scene, which like in Oliver’s version symbolizes the gateway to the afterlife, or a way to die. When Olivier says “his quietus make”, he points the knife towards himself in a semi-casual manner. Soon after that his knife falls into the sea, and so he gets up from the rock he is sitting and says “their currents turn awry”. Shortly after this he walks away from the sea, as though he is walking away from the idea of death, because it is complicated for him to handle.

  3. Michael M

    The Branagh version of the 3.1 soliloquy shows anger, while Mel Gibson’s version focuses on the lines about death. When Branagh walks into the hall it is obvious that Claudius and Polonius are watching, from behind the two way mirror, but not to Hamlet. Meanwhile, in Gibson’s version there is absolutely no indication that the King and Polonius even hear the speech. Branagh decides to set the seen within the hall of the castle, much like is stated in Polonius’ original dialogue. However, Zeffirelli decides to stray from the original idea and place Gibson within the tombs where his father was buried. This scenery supports the lines involving death and suicide, throughout the soliloquy. Zeffirelli also decides to cut Ophelia from the scene. The soliloquy is no longer a way for the adults to spy on Ophelia and Hamlet, instead it is Hamlet venting by his father’s remains. Branagh’s version follows a similar idea, having Hamlet alone. However, Branagh decides to include Ophelia, but not until after the speech has ended. The Branagh and Gibson versions of the “To be or Not to be” soliloquy are structured similar, but Branagh is slow with his speech, giving any ery and mad feel to each word.

  4. Olivier's version has a more dramatic attitude and direction whereas Hawke's version is more focused on the words of the soliloquy and the inner workings of Hamlet's mind. Olivier's version starts out with dramatic music and leading the viewer to a cliff where Hamlet is sitting looking at the ocean many feet below. The imagery of the ocean goes along with the soliloquy with the lines like " Sea of Troubles" and "With this regard their currents turn awry." Hawke's version starts off with with him in a blockbuster and the setting doesn't change throughout the whole soliloquy. Hawke just walks around the aisles watching the films whereas Olivier stares off into the ocean and even pulls out a knife/ Olivier's version focuses more on the suicide aspect of the soliloquy, leading the viewer to think he's actually interested in killing himself. Because of the setting in Hawke's version, it leads the viewer to think he's more focused on killing Claudius. The tapes in the background show a man getting killed and burning in flames. This imagery, contrasting to the ocean images in Olivier's, is less about death but more about revenge. The knife in Olivier's version serves as a symbol of death, a way for Hamlet to end his life and his troubles. Hawke's version does not have this symbol, just the words of the soliloquy. Neither actor gets very intense about the lines, they both stay on the same level of volume throughout the soliloquy. Not to say that they don't have emotion, in Olivier's version, you can see that he is truly contemplating death. They even show the inside of Hamlet's brain to portray the idea of whats going on inside his head. Hawke's version is less intense, it is just him walking around, thinking with a vengeance attitude. Both soliloquies make use of a different setting to act as a metaphor to Hamlet's thoughts. The steep cliff provides as a hint to suicide. The director makes the choice of Hamlet sitting close to the edge to make the audience wonder if he'll actually jump. Hawke uses the movie store and the films in the background as a way to provide an insight to Hamlet's ideas about his revenge against Claudius.

  5. Whereas Kenneth Branagh portrays Hamlet to still have a passionate strength after everything that has occurred in his 3.1 soliloquy, David Tennant portrays him as being practically completely defeated. In Branagh’s clip, Hamlet is not simply morose as he ponders life or death - he is clearly angered, as well. He stiffly walks toward a mirror, a passion in his eyes that does not express sadness, but rather, anger - an anger he’ll seemingly still use to his advantage possibly, it sounds in his tone of voice. Tennant, however, portrays Hamlet as being completely down, with no hope in sight of a revelation like Branagh always seems to incorporate. He walks grudgingly, and leans against the wall in defeat, a hopeless, still look on his face and sad, focused eyes, as he reads his lines. Branagh reads his lines with a seriousness and passion in his tone that elicits a spark that’s still in him, after all the defeat. He certainly is pondering the bad, but his ability to compose himself makes it seem as though he’ll “bounce back”. Tennant reads his lines choppily, his voice breaking at points, whereas Branagh does so more smoothly, indicating that Tennant portrays Hamlet as someone more emotional and defeated. Tennant’s Hamlet isn’t hopeless; he is just a boy. Branagh lifts his weapon as he ponders death, but still, the passion in his eyes makes the reader think that he’s not defeated yet. He walks away, although having delivered the same dejected lines Tennant’s and every others’ Hamlet did, emitting a confidence. Tennant looks as though he is going to cry as Ophelia enters, and hopelessly turns to eit. Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant portray Hamlet very differently - the first’s maintaining some composure and strength, the latter’s expressing solely hopelessness - affecting the 3.1 soliloquy delivery and in turn, the whole play.

  6. Joseph C. Hamlet 3.1 soliloquy shuttle comparison

    Branagh’s version of the soliloquy explores how Hamlet’s problems can be related to everyone else’s, whereas Olivier's version focuses on Hamlet’s implied internal conflict. Oliver’s version starts with a view of Hamlet looking over a cliff at the ocean, and the camera slowly zooms into Hamlet’s head, and presumably, his mind. When the camera gets black, a view of the rough sea is shown, which helps convey Hamlet’s emotional turmoil when asking “to be, or not to be.” Branagh starts the soliloquy while looking into a one-way mirror, which works with the scene in multiple ways. It allows Polonius and Claudius to spy on Hamlet, like they said they were going to do, but because Branagh talks into the mirror, and Claudius and Polonius stand immediately behind the mirror, it makes it seem that Hamlet is talking directly to them. There is also the question of whether or not Hamlet was aware of being spied on, since he was confident when talking to Ophelia that Polonius was not home, but instead was up to something. This would seem even more like Hamlet is addressing this speech to others, Since he may have known someone else was listening in on him. Branagh seems to emphasize the pronouns “us” and “we,” which works well because it does seem that Hamlet is talking to Claudius and Polonius. Oliver takes out his dagger much earlier in the soliloquy than Branagh does, and suggest he is about to commit suicide immediately. He holds the dagger so it is pointing to him, and closes his eyes as the camera again zooms into his face, suggesting an internal struggle. He pulls the dagger away after realizing that death may not be a dream and that, “the rub” is the unknown of death, which all represents inner conflict. Branagh moves much quicker through these lines, and does not show anywhere near as much of a self conflict that Oliver shows. By not making the internal struggle of Hamlet obvious, it leaves the audience to be able to relate to his situation. The conflict in Oliver’s version of the soliloquy is very similar to the internal conflicts of the previous two soliloquy in that they do not seem to be relatable to anyone else’s situation besides Hamlet’s because of the use of the pronouns “I” in the other soliloquies. Although Branagh and Oliver are reciting the same lines, Branagh’s acting and directing choices make his version emphasize the change of the use of the pronoun “I,” to the pronouns “we” and “us.” Oliver chooses to drop his dagger after the lines “puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of,” which shows Hamlet in this version would rather bear his life’s hardships than to take a chance that there is a pleasant afterlife and commit suicide. Branagh does much sign of internal struggle, which contrasts from Oliver’s performance, since Oliver constantly uses stage directing choices to show Hamlet’s internal struggle. Toward the end of his performance, there is further evidence that Branagh’s Hamlet knows about Claudius spying on him. After pulling out his dagger and pointing it to the one-way mirror Claudius is behind, Claudius puts his arm out, in what seems to be an attempt to protect Polonius. This shows for a split second Claudius was worried that Hamlet knew he was spying on him, and this again suggests to the audience that Hamlet knows what is going on. This moment was a directing choice that did not necessarily add to the characterization of Hamlet, but instead showed that Hamlet was not just talking to himself, and in a way, he was talking to Claudius and Polonius as well.

    1. This idea that Hamlet is aware of someone else’s presence is continuous through the entire soliloquy, and allows for Hamlet to address other people, making it relatable to everyone, while still keeping the soliloquy a soliloquy. Oliver’s performance is less relatable to the lives of others since the audience is reminded frequently of Hamlet’s own internal struggle throughout the soliloquy, making it more difficult to see Hamlet’s struggle in any situation other than his own.

  7. In both Olivier and Almereyda’s versions, the inner turmoil Hamlet feels is clearly depicted in the scenes around them. In Almereyda’s version of the soliloquy the television screens are playing a video with people being injured and flames, complete chaos. Olivier uses a similar tactic by going into Hamlet’s hear and viewing the crashing waves, powerful and tumultuous. Instead of simply having the characters show the strength of their emotions through actions, tone, and expression, the conveying of their feelings is assisted through the images they are surrounded by. In Almereyda’s version Hamlet is also surrounded by another image, the word “action” above the shelves of movies. Throughout the soliloquy Hamlet contemplates whether he wishes to take action, as advised by the ghost, or choose in action. Almereyda’s directorial choice of placing this word all over the scene may foreshadow Hamlet’s decision, they also could influence his decision greatly. In contrast, Olivier’s version shows Hamlet with a “bare bodkin” sitting atop a rock overlooking the “sea of troubles.” As he questions “...than fly to others that we know not of?” Hamlet drops the dagger into the sea. This represents that he may have been contemplating taking action, but against himself, to escape from his nightmarish life. But as these idea develop he realizes like others that maybe he too would rather suffer through a horrible life due to his fear of death, thus he drops the dagger. Both directors used clues to portray the meanings to the audience. Hawke and Olivier both act out the soliloquy by moving around, speaking out loud only occasionally, and remaining seemingly calm. Though they do not show too much emotion through tone or facial expression, Hawke’s pacing around the store and Olivier's pacing around the cliff show that they were truly conflicted, unable to sit still due to the war going on inside their minds. With the choice for some of the speech to be within the mind, the speculation that the soliloquy may be overheard by the nosy Polonius is diminished. The scenes being lifted out of context also counteract this idea.

  8. Hamlet 3.1 Soliloquy Shuttle Comparison

    Olivier's and Branagh's versions of Hamlet's "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy both focus on the melancholy feelings and worry that is going on in Hamlet's mind. In Branagh's version his voice rarely shows any emotion besides an occasional angry tone. In Olivier's version this is consistent as well as he seems more filled with worry than anger. When the soliloquy begins to talk about control Branagh's version shows the King sitting behind the one way glass which shows how Hamlet is not in control of who spies on him and who he can trust. Olivier's version takes the metaphor of life, "With this regard their currents turn awry" literally by using the rough ocean in the scene to show Hamlet's turmoil. The actors in both of these versions of Hamlet also focused on the uncertainty that Hamlet feels about attempting suicide and what comes after it. They both changed their tones from strong and mysterious to small and full of doubt. In both versions of the play both directors had Hamlet physically holding a dagger which helps the audience understand how serious Hamlet is about committing suicide and this makes Hamlet seem more mad. In Olivier's version the director made the choice to have Hamlet seem a bit frightened when contemplating suicide which is a good choice when wanting the people watching to have sympathy for Hamlet even though you are also starting to believe he is going mad. In Branagh's version however, Hamlet seems threatening when holding the dagger, he presses it to the mirror as if scratching his own face. This was a good directing move because it channels that anger and resentment Hamlet has for the people in his life and it makes him seem like a darker character even though he decides to not go through with the suicide. In Olivier's version the ocean is representing his troubles which brings the metaphor, "A sea of troubles" into the open helping the audience understand just how Hamlet is feeling. In Branagh's version this is represented by a hall of mirrors which symbolizes that he never knows what lies behind the surface of something, that he may only see his reflection but there is something hidden behind that (this could metaphorically mean madness or the King watching from afar.) Both directors had similar and different decisions they made and each helped the movie in it's own way.

    1. Create a concluding statement that is as bold and insightful as the response as a whole.


  9. In the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy Branagh portrays the meaning of the speech as uncertain while the David Tennant version is more worrisome. The pauses Hamlet took through the Branagh version depict the questions of the afterlife he is wondering about, whereas Tennant's voice and portrayal of the speech is more concerned about the questions that are arising in his mind. Both actors speak softly, but the Tennant version shows more of the realization in his voice when he comes to what he thinks to be the solution. Branagh's voice doesn't change through the soliloquy and it doesn't show that moment as well as Tennant. In Branagh's version it is obvious that Claudius and Polonious are watching Hamlet through the one way mirror and it seems as if Hamlet himself knows they are there, however in Tennant's version there is no sign that they are watching him. The director choice of having Hamlet stay in the same place in David Tennant's version is slightly boring, whereas Kenneth Branagh does a few things, like pulling out his sword and changing the way we view Hamlet, made it more interesting to watch.

  10. Branagh’s setting and display of characters helps to show the audience his awareness towards Claudius and Polonius while Zeffirelli’s sole use of Gibson in the scene causes viewers to question whether Claudius and Polonius are in fact listening to Hamlet’s ponderings. In Branagh’s version the spectator is immediately aware that Hamlet is not alone as the secret door behind a mirror shuts behind Claudius and Polonius hastily before Hamlet’s entrance. Branagh’s use of a one-way mirror is genius in that it allows Hamlet to directly reflect upon himself while indirectly speaking to the two wide-eyed nobles watching Hamlet’s every move. Upon entrance he walks straight to a particular mirror out of the dozens that line the wall. He stares into it knowing full well his uncle and Polonius are holding their breath behind it, yet he delivers his soliloquy. Gibson’s entrance is much less revealing. He walks down the stairs into what appears to be a dusty warehouse. He surveys the room, perhaps Claudius and Polonius are looking on in secret? Zeffirelli made a surprising choice by having Gibson speak to what appears to be the coffin of the late King Hamlet. Hamlet’s soliloquy takes an almost apologetic tone as Gibson kneels beside the casket. He is speaking to the corpse of his father; in a sense he is asking a dead man if it’s truly better to be dead. There is no reference to Claudius and Polonius listening in and perhaps in this version they weren’t meant to.
    Branagh intentionally wants Polonius and Claudius, and especially Claudius, to understand what he is saying and his last few lines, which he delivers with vehemence, are directly at Claudius. “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action” He is saying thought clouded his initial judgment yet he stares into the mirror as if he is saying he won’t make the same mistake twice. It’s a threat of revenge. Gibson’s scene illustrates more of a promise of vengeance. He looks up while he is delivering his last lines as if promising his father’s spirit that he will do the deed he should have done long ago. The scene ends, not with Ophelia walking in, but with Hamlet leaving the basement.

  11. Different actors can manage to say the same words, yet convey an ntirely different message. No truer is this than in the 3.1 soliloquy in the Mel Gibson and Ethan hawke versions of the soliloquy. Both are extremely different from the original shakespeare script, as hawke’s takes place in an entirely different time period, and in the laughably different setting of a Blockbuster video store, while Gibson’s is lifted out of its general position in the story and stuck elsewhere in a different setting of a catacomb. Hawke’s version loses almost all of the dark tone to the bright lighting and everyday setting of the store, while Gibson’s suffers from rushed delivery. Hawke, like amny of the other soliloquies, looks almost bored as he wanders the blockbuster, while Mel Gibson seems to be trying so hard to convey depression and anxiety, backed up by the more dark and gloomy setting, that it lays the emotion on the audience almost too heavily, and fails to capture much of the questioning going on, instead focussing on the raw emotions involved. Both of these soliloquies fail in their attempt to convey the burning question of life and death that the soliloquy confronted in the original play, but for completely different reasons, all based on the changes in setting and tone that define how the words are used.

  12. Olivier's portrayal of Hamlet was strengthened through the acts of music to create a different standpoint on Hamlet's mood, whereas Tennant's version of Hamlet lacked the music to fill out his character; but it was the lack of music that made Tennant's character emotionally readable. What is being portrayed with the prior sentence is that Tennant was able to set the mood without having a random score of music swirl about the waves to create a mood like Olivier. Olivier had little to no emotion, in my own opinion, in his soliloquy. This could be translated as that he is a zen trying to think about his thoughts on life, or that the sound back then couldn't catch emotion. The prior assumption is most likely correct, and the only way to tell if Olivier was emotional was when the musical backgrounds escalated when Olivier closed his eyes talking about sleeping and dreaming. The music blared at Olivier to wake him up on his transition to another phrase with the same set emotion and same set facial expression. Tennant on the other hand had no music what so ever, and that displayed his character well. From the get go of the scene with Tennant in the shadow and the sad tone in his voice you could tell that he was sad, and with the lack of music within the whole soliloquy you could feel the hollowness of Tennant as the suicidal qualities battled with Hamlet himself. Olivier just sat and stared off into the waves, and he looked a little cross eyed as if to say spacing out. This does of course emphasize on the idea that he is thinking, and of course there is currently no music at this spot to further put across the point that he is sleeping. Tennant starts off, and through the whole scene, with no music and a close up of his face. The close up on Tennant's face could represent that even though the context of the soliloquy uses the words we and our Tennant is thinking more of himself and his depressive hollow thoughts as he stares sadly out off screen (thankfully not at the camera). Olivier's camera shots constantly move, but every single one of them focus on his whole body instead of just his face as he acts out more in body language such as shifting positions after he startles himself awake while bringing the dagger closer to his neck. Olivier's movement at that point also brings out the idea of Hamlet unconsciously wants to kill himself but in a more realizing way, which puts Olivier's character as on the verge of going crazy. Since we can't see Tennant's body for his soliloquy there are no movement clues, and only a sad face with no music. Hollow is the best word to describe the emotion of the scene as Tennant has that whole emotion, and instead of giving off his prior insane riffs like in the previous soliloquy, it gives him a given up stance. Tennant puts himself as doomed and that the idea of death isn't that bad a choice. Overall Olivier's soliloquy demonstrated a calm on the verge of insanity Hamlet as he wondered nearby the waves of the ocean, probably at this location due to the mentioning of currents; while Tennant was able to fully capture a hopelessness and stronger emotional idea of Hamlet as he reflected with the lack of music that left his character more plausibly full.

  13. The Gibson version as well as the Tennant versions of the 3.1 soliloquy both present that seriousness and dramatics expected to be displayed during this speech, but through two completely different outlets. Gibson’s setting adds to the understanding of what is being spoken, while the way Tennant speaks, (his voice as well as facial expression) convey the solemn tone of the soliloquy, with allowing the reader a much more broad scape for interpretation that Gibson’s. Gibson’s setting for his soliloquy, which happens to be a mausoleum, emphasizes the life and death aspect. As he speaks “To die, to sleep”, the dramatics are pronounced by the camera flashing over to a tomb. Tennant’s setting is located in a main room of the castle, but the camera never moves from his face during his speech. The setting is not guiding the viewer's understanding of the meaning as it is in Gibson’s, and allows for more space for the viewer to focus on his words rather than what his words are connected to. When Gibson speaks “for who would bear the whips and scorns of time” as he lays his head on the tomb (of what I believe to be his father), it adds to the dramatic effect of Hamlet’s words, and reminds the viewer of exactly what Hamlet is speaking. Tennant has his head leaning against a wall through the scene, making it seem as if he is in extreme distress. Gibson is moving throughout his setting, which helps emphasize his seriousness in some lines of the speech as well as his anger in other parts, for when he becomes irritated, he stands up and moves. Tennant does not have the motivation to move, there for this supports the dramatics of him pondering the workings of his own mind. While Tennant’s thoughts are all internally generated, some of Gibson’s may be influenced as well as exemplified by the setting which he is in. Tennant’s facial expression also allows the viewer to realize the entire tone of the speech if they are not sure of the meaning of the words, for they are not being given an hints from the background or Tennant’s surroundings. Gibson provides different types of facial expressions, (anger, seriousness, solemnity), which combined with the tombs of the deceased and the setting of the mausoleum, allow for an easier interpretation of the meaning of Hamlet’s words. Gibson is guiding the viewer's thoughts through his actions and props, while Tennant forces the viewer to rely solely on the tone of his voice, his face and the words. Even though both are completely different, each embody the same tone and exemplify the meaning between the difference of existing and not existing.

  14. 3.1 soliloquy

    Branagh and Tennent both are both great actors. The emotions they convey are so realistic. Hamlet is controlled by his emotions which is why the use of emotion is so important in any production of Hamlet.
    Branagh is definity doing this speech as a monolong and not a soliloquy, but i think it could still be called one because it shows the inner workings of hamlet just like the other soliloquy. In the Tennent version you don't know if it is a true soliloquy or a monolog because the whole thing is just on his face. the use of the one way mirror is different and causes a whole different meaning on the speech.
    Both of them use great facial expression to convey the hurt and confusion hamlet is going through at the time. Tennent is much easier to see because it is just his face. branagh uses his dagger to exaggerate his anger and overall emotion. Both take a unique spin on this scene and this creates different meanings. Branagh may or may not know that the king and polonius are behind that mirror while in the tennent version you don't even know if the king and polonius are in the castle, but they may be listening to him.
    Both create great emotion and depth to hamlet even if they do convey totally different meanings to the speech.

  15. Kate P.
    3.1 Soliloquy

    The concept of the soliloquy essentially is the choice between existing or not, so it was common for the delivery of such a speech to be given in a thoughtful, pondering manner, as it was in each of the five clips. Branagh's and Olivier's performances differed slightly in this way, as Oliver seems more caught up in the thought, truly captivated by the notion of sleeping. Juxtaposed, Branagh approaches the idea in more of a way like he was trying to convince himself, further verified by the directors' decision to have Branagh speak his lines to a mirror. His dangerously low tone held darkness as Branagh resembled an aggravated child trying not to lose his temper; it sounded strained as though he were about to snap. Olivier's voice more resembled his speech, in that it often sounded soft and delicate, like a dream, sometimes even varying the speech in and outside his mind, as if he were slipping in and out of consciousness. Both actors display a dagger when talking about ending their strife's, which lead me to believe that both directors interpreted his struggle of action versus inaction as a struggle literally representing life or death. The addition of being on a foggy cliff makes Olivier's performance seem a bit more eerie though, and I find it leaves the reader unsure of his proceeding actions, whereas Branagh ends his performance like the ending of a thought, continuing on to converse with Ophelia afterwards.

  16. Emma P Soliloquy 3.1 Shuttle Comparison
    Whether Hamlet is selfish is a big question, in Branagh’s portrayal he certainly seemed to be, however in Tennant’s the thought doesn’t enter into your head. Branagh talks to himself in a mirror during the entire soliloquy, like he is referring to himself though the monologue talks in general. Branagh also comes off as calculating, and loud in his opinions, making sure the world hears him. Tennant’s portrayal is much different, he talks in a quiet voice almost so that you cannot hear him. Tennant also does not seem to be aware of the world around him or himself. Tennant almost looks as if he is dreaming of the questions in the soliloquy.

  17. Through his aggressive tone and demeanor, Branagh is able to introduce a contradictory idea that he knows he is talking to Claudius and Polonius making it not a soliloquy at all. In the David Tennant version of the scene, there is no hint of a possible monologue taking place. We still see aggression in his voice but this aggression is more generally directed rather than being directed to a single person. Branagh thrusts his knife in the direction of Claudius's hiding place during his speech. Whether this is done intentionally or unintentionally is unknown, but the way he stares into the one-sided mirror unsettles Claudius. It is possible that Hamlet knows nothing about Claudius and Polonius hiding, and when he pulls the knife he thinks he is actually pulling the knife on himself. He makes this motion when delivering the line "When he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?" This is discussing suicide so it would make sense for Hamlet to pull the knife on his mirror image during this line.
    Tennant changes his emotions back and forth during his soliloquy, to portray Hamlet’s madness and struggle to cope with his tragic life. He begins the soliloquy with long pauses and eyes wincing. He looks in pain, but also that he is choosing not to do anything about this pain. Then he transitions to a more confrontational attitude. He shows this through the slight gritting of his teeth when delivering the line. “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” Shortly after he transitions to a more woeful tone of voice, raising his pitch in a listless, rising fashion. Branagh shows his madness through his developing but constant aggression towards either himself or Claudius. He comes closer and closer to the mirror until he is standing right in front of it. Then he delivers his lines with an ever so slight smirk on his face, even though his topic shouldn’t be amusing the slightest. This is what unsettles the viewers as well as Claudius.

  18. 3.1 Shuttle comparison
    Cody E.

    While Kenneth Branagh’s version takes a direct route to the mirror to depict Hamlet’s newfound calculated nature, Michael Almereyda makes use of a winding path through Blockbuster to signify the ordeal that has led Hamlet to thoughts of suicide.
    Branagh’s version leads off with Hamlet surveying a ballroom of sorts, and conveniently stares at his reflection in the mirror behind which Claudius and Polonius are spying. This is an odd twist, but proves intriguing. Almereyda’s starts with a stoic Hamlet turning around and beginning his search for the right footage. The cheap winter hat certainly does not fit the mood, but provides an interesting contrast: a rather jolly headpiece concealing a grim, contemplative mind.
    Once Branagh locks eyes with his reflection, he begins to slowly walk forward. His legs are very close together and he seems quite purposeful in his advancement. Ethan Hawke instead takes a wandering saunter, seeming to glance through the titles rather than search. It seems as if his mind is too fixed on the question of existence to scour stacks of DVDs. It seems foreboding that as he narrates “To sleep, perchance to dream,” the televisions show a man being blown away by an explosion.
    Branagh also includes some foreshadowing, but it takes longer to develop. As Branagh gets closer and closer to the mirror, it is as if he is creating a spatial crescendo, building tension with every step. Once he finally reaches the mirror, he brings the bodkin close to his face, reminding us of the suicidal thoughts mentioned earlier in the soliloquy. It is telling that the bodkin appears closer to his face when looking at the mirror rather than over his shoulder. Hamlet proceeds to rest the object against his face, with a fiery look into the mirror, as he talks about death supposedly being the point of no return. As he says “...their currents turn awry,” he taps the bodkin against the glass, merely inches from the face of Claudius. Almereyda also applies a dramatic touch here, as the view pans to three televisions showing a wall of fire.
    It is interesting to me that one approach takes Hamlet on a straight line (getting ever closer to Hamlet’s target) while the other winds through a store, finishing with him leaving.

  19. Meghan O
    Soliloquy 3.1 Shuttle Comparison
    Looking back over the other soliloquy clips that David Tennant has performed, I have begun to realize that I prefer his performances due to his insane amount of emotion and feeling conveyed toward the audience. However, in this certain 3.1 soliloquy, I feel that Branagh has delivered an unparalleled performance of Hamlet’s most famous speech. Branagh is standing straight up, delivering his speech while looking at a one-way mirror, where Claudius and Polonius lurk watching him from the other side. This is a director's choice, because it is not included in the book. The fact that they were watching him only furthers the point that Hamlet is being suffocated by everyone and he can’t have any time to spend alone, even when he thinks he is alone. Tennant’s performance, surprisingly, was boring. He was stationary against a wall for the majority of his speech. This made the performance dreary and I didn’t feel like I was being included in the “we” that Hamlet kept referring to. I didn’t feel the same intense emotion and wonder I usually feel when watching Tennant perform. Branagh was loud and truly conveyed the debate of committing suicide, or taking revenge on Claudius.

  20. Melanie M.
    In the soliloquy 3.1 performances by Hawke and Olivier, the setting, as well as the actors movements and attitude can affect how the soliloquy is perceived by the reader. In the Hawke version, Hamlet is in a Blockbuster video store, by himself. This is very different compared to the setting of the Olivier version, which takes place on a foggy night, on top of a cliff, overlooking the sea. In both versions, the director’s choice of setting seems to convey an overall feeling of loneliness, but the Olivier version adds an element of true danger and suspense.
    The Olivier version of this soliloquy begins at the bottom of a steep and windy staircase, and climbs up them. These stairs seem to symbolize the troubles of life. Every step makes you a little more tired, but we keep climbing up. When we get to the top, we have a choice whether to jump, or enjoy the view. Once at the top of the staircase, the camera shows the rocky shoreline just below.This setting adds an element of suspense and danger because he is so close to the edge, he could end his life so easily. Hamlet stays atop the cliff for the rest of the soliloquy, until the end. In the Hawke version, the setting remains constant throughout the entire soliloquy, a Blockbuster video store; a modern twist to this historical classic. This setting illustrates the loneliness Hamlet is feeling, because it is empty; Hamlet is the only person around in a sea of movies. The actors choice of movements can add emphasis to a particular part of the soliloquy, which is part of what keeps the different versions different. In the performance by Hawke,he spends the soliloquy walking aimlessly up and down the aisles, which emphasises his depressed attitude, but also makes it seem like he is somewhat bored. On the contrary, Olivier’s movements engaged the viewer and adds suspense. When he says the phrase, “and by opposing end them, he takes out a ‘bare bodkin.’ He keeps this dagger very close to his body for the rest of the soliloquy; that is until he drops it and the small dagger plummets into the water below. I feel that Oliver did a better job portraying Hamlet as a desolate young man, on the brink of suicide. His tone of voice throughout the soliloquy seems to posses a desperate tone, and his eyes were closed frequently, which shows how he was contemplating what choice was the right one. In the version of this soliloquy in which Hawke played Hamlet, he used a similar tone of voice as Olivier did. Both versions reveal the depth in everything that Hamlet is going through, both express the desolate feeling of Hamlet’s inner minds. While the tone of voice were similar in both versions, I personally felt that the setting revealed more in the scene with Olivier, and Olivier’s body movements better expressed the inner workings of Hamlet.

  21. Paula Costa

    3.1 Soliloquy Performance Shuttle Comparison

    Kenneth Branagh’s version expresses Hamlet’s emotions with a melancholic monotone much like Gibson’s version. There is a slight difference: Branagh talks almost as if whispering staying consistent with his tone throughout the soliloquy while Gibson also uses a melancholic tone but you can notice slight variations in his tone of voice. This speech is of a very serious matter and both actors show this by portraying it with a seriousness in their faces and using undertones. Gibson’s speech has many variations with tones: he starts with a soft tone raising his voice at “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,” while Branagh keeps his tone consistent. The setting in Branagh’s version is the grand room of the castle, and he delivers his speech with almost no movement but only direct gaze at the mirror, while Gibson enters a catacomb to deliver his speech and walks around touching the tombs. Even though Branagh’s version stays in context by having the soliloquy at a more appropriate setting, Gibson’s version seems more to the matter because he is in a place that radiates death which pertains to the point.
    The mirror in Branagh’s version is a one way mirror which allows both Claudius and Polonius to spy on Hamlet with Ophelia, different from Gibson’s version where Polonius, Ophelia, and Claudius are never shown. In Branagh’s version the line “with a bare bodkin” causes him to take out a dagger scaring Claudius who’s behind the mirror while the same line does not have the same effect in Gibson’s version. Gibson’s version has almost no lights in the setting which seems appropriate for the matter of the soliloquy while Branagh’s version carries a room full of light making the setting contrast with the subject matter. At the very end the versions differ from each other greatly: Branagh ends the soliloquy by whispering “Soft you now!The fair Ophelia!” when Ophelia walks in the room while Gibson ended the soliloquy by walking to the stairs that led to out of the catacombs while saying “And lose the name of action.”

  22. Zoe P
    "The Murder of Gonzago" Option #1

    The David Tennant version of the performance of "The Murder Gonzago" had a much more goofy and unprofessional feel whereas the Mel Gibson version was more serious and theatrical. During the dumb show in the Tennant version it had weird and unusual props witch sets the tone for a joke of a play. With the suspenseful music and seriousness during the dumb play in the Gibson version is gives it more of a professional feel. The reaction of Claudius in the performances also differs greatly. In the Gibson version Claudius is angry and shows that emotion very clearly, where in the Tennant version Claudius is very casual as he gets up and walks away, masking his emotions. The versions also show a different reaction and portrayal of Hamlet himself. In the Gibson version Hamlet seems anxious and angry awaiting for the reaction and again, it has a more serious feel. However in the Tennant version Hamlet seemed to be more crazy, acting foolishly and laughing through the scene, adding to the unprofessional mood. Gertrude's reaction in both the Tennant and Gibson version is relatively similar. They are shocked and they both have worried and concerned looks on their faces. In the David Tennant version, Ophelia seems scared about what may happen, but she seems comfortable sitting there with Hamlet, whereas in the Mel Gibson version Ophelia isn't really present through the scene.

  23. 3.2 Scene Prompt #3
    Certain improvements to the direction and acting choices in Gregory Doran’s Hamlet could benefit Act III Scene II. Strict directorial choices and specific acting routes by Tennant make for a performance that could be considered as a slightly radical version of the true “Hamlet”, and how the scene was “supposed” to be originally. Tennant portrays Hamlet as a more timid character, less confident than many other versions of Hamlet, and more seemingly defeated, as is shown in previous scenes of the play already. In this scene, Hamlet begins by talking with the players, Tennant portraying him as nervous, overly critical, and almost jittery about what is going to happen following. He does not express anger; rather, he comes off as practically a child with nerves, pacing, and ( without confidence, preparation, or any assertion) directing the actors during last minute. These qualities, in my opinion, are not all perfect representations of how Hamlet should be; the book gives me the sense that he’s got some level of higher courage in this respect than portrayed by Tennant. If Tennant incorporated a passion that was more controlled and confident, therefore laying the possibility of good prospects for Hamlet’s plans and hopes throughout the play, I feel it would have been a more accurate interpretation. Hamlet is defeated, certainly, but the book shows us - he has pent up anger for his father’s death and with regards to his mother’s situation, and that all went away here. Director Gregory Doran made certain choices as well that limited the scope of the scene. For a Tennant who’s playing a radical Hamlet, the setting is very stiff - a dark back room before the play begins, and a dark, stiff, small space during the play as well. The closed off setting, as well as the stiff monotonous camera angles, certainly contrasted with the radical behavior within the play, as well as Hamlet’s behavior - maybe this was a purposeful choice, but it my opinion, it did not work well. A “looser” setting and camera setup could have allowed Hamlet’s interesting behavior to be more “accepted” as accurate. Throughout the scene, Tennant continues to act as if the plan is just moving along, and he is the one praying it will work, practically still figuring it out in his mind. He lays on the floor, taping Claudius’s response as a happy, mesmerized little child, like an audience member almost - not a man. He becomes overly excited, and, upon deciding his plan has worked when Claudius and then the crowd become flustered, he is almost psychotically obsessed over his “defeat” - indicating crazy, not the studious, thoughtful Hamlet I gained as a character from the book. With slight specific acting choice and directorial choice changes, the Gregory Doran Hamlet film could have improved.

  24. Emma P "The Murder of Gonzago" Shuttle Comparison

    In both versions of the play, the King’s reaction is focused on more than the queens, but the King’s reaction in each one is very different. Hamlet focuses more on the queen in the beginning when he attacks her about marrying so soon after his father’s death. In the version with Tennant the queen is very contained and calm looking mostly concerned for her husband. In the version with Gibson, the queen’s reaction is more severe, but at the same time, most of it is for her husband. In the version with Tennant the director made the choice that the king’s reaction be almost imperceptible. You get to watch his face through Hamlet’s eyes with the use of a old-fashioned video camera. It is very hard to tell what the king is feeling, he keeps a completely straight face even when Hamlet announces that the play is called the “ Mousetrap.” The only time you can see any movement from him is when he gets up but his face is still unreadable. This version also has a more complete portrayal of the play. The version with Gibson features a king with a much more obvious reaction. The play is shorter but the king rows increasingly pale and nervous as he watches. He then stumbles up and all but runs from the hall because he is sin so much shock. Everything about the Gibson version is easier to read, including the setting. The tennant version requires more thought. In the version with Tennant the audience is much smaller, leading to a more intimate setting but there are also less people to read which, can influence what you think about Hamlet. Which way is better is hard to say because so little is known about Shakespeare’s actual intentions for this work.

  25. Hamlet’s play within a play “The Murder of Gonzago” is so important to the play as a whole, that the way that it is performed can make or break a rendition of the story. In particular, David Tennant’s version of the play is strikingly different from that of Ethan Hawke. Tennant’s version begins with a dumb show with clowns, while Hawke’s movie begins with images of happy families. Obviously the clowns are at first not meant to be taken as seriously, however as the play progresses it gets more dialogue-heavy, as well as more dramatic and more bothersome to the king. Hawke’s version is notably much shorter,and has no words whatsoever, instead showing movie clips depicting scenes of murder by poison, then scenes of lust, indicating Claudius and Gertrude’s situation more visually than simply telling about a murder, like Tennant’s version did. In particular, David Tennant himself was acting very strangely during the play, almost in a silly fashion, downplaying the meaning of the play, while Hawke barely even speaks at all. In hawke’s version, the film, and Claudius’ reaction can speak for itself, while the Tennant version downplays both the play itself, and even Claudius’ reaction, preferring to make the rest of the audience the focal point, as they act so rashly on Claudius’ leaving from the play, signifying Claudius’ mental turmoil almost more than he does. By contrast, hawke’s version sees the camera zooming in on Claudius’ face as he shows obvious signs of discomfort and guilt, to the point of storming out of the theater, with slightly less fanfare and commotion than the Tennant version.

  26. Everest C
    3.1 Shuttle comparison

    The inner workings of a persons emotions have a lot to do with feelings of isolation or loneliness, times of introspection. Directors Olivier and Branagh both understand that William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is shaped by these feelings, but they each approach presenting it differently. Branagh presents his soliloquy before a mirror, which (as the viewers know) is a two way mirror. So while the feel of the scene is that Hamlet is isolated from others in Elsinore that could listen to him, the truth is that there are people listening in on his speech. Branagh is able to capture this aspect of isolation, as well as another important piece of Hamlets life, deception. On the other hand, Laurence Olivier elevates the level of isolation in his depiction of the scene, with Hamlet perched above a long fall down onto the rocks. When the camera is on Hamlet, all that is visible is Hamlet, the rock he sits on, and the gray sky in the background, entirely isolated. Both authors demonstrate a use of isolation (or lack of) but utilize it in different ways.

    1. Everest C.
      The most critical aspect to the murder of gonzago scene is the reaction of king claudius, human reaction to emotionally jarring images is often a key sign of inner turmoil, and Hamlet wishes to catch claudius with this tool. When comparing the Mel Gibson scene to the Ethan Hawke scene several key differences relating to the reaction of the king can be scene. The reaction in the Gibson version seems to be one of pure disgust and almost physical pain, and like in the Hawke scene it occurs when the murderer approaches the now dead kings crown. Hamlet played by Mel Gibson is also extremely happy to have had his plan work and for the king to have acted in such dramatic fashion towards the play, and he celebrates with the players and horatio. Ethan Hawke on the other hand watches the king throughout (yet not as closely as Gibson watches) and seems to be angrier with the king than happy about his films success in showing the kings emotion about the scene. ( of course Ethan Hawkes Hamlet created a movie and did not have any players to celebrate with, but he did not celebrate the discovery with horatio immediately either.)

  27. Jaclyn W
    option #3 Murder of Gonzago mini essay

    Gregory Doran’s version of Hamlet conveys dramatic mood swings throughout the movie, but lacks the same emotion during the Mouse Trap scene. Firstly with the direction of the players makes no sense what so ever. The actors in the dumb play should be facing Claudius and Gertrude instead of facing Hamlet and having their backs turned to the King and Queen. Shouldn’t the players be facing Claudius and Gertrude to get their attention and for Hamlet’s plan to actually work? It just doesn’t make sense for them to be facing away from the target audience. Speaking of the direction of the audience, everyone should have been on one side and Hamlet and Ophelia shouldn’t have been flung to the other side of the rug. This created a disorganized sort of look and made the format displeasing to the eye and point. If there is a play going on and everyone else is at one side you should be there and not biting Ophelia while in her lap. Going further on position of the scene Horatio was also at a weird position. Why is Horatio out in the blue standing at an angle where he cannot see Claudius without turning his head away from the play? That makes it a little obvious in what Horatio is doing and that they should have hidden Horatio behind something to watch the king or put him in a place where he could see Claudius 100% of the time. Lastly there should be a note that the whole scene came off more light hearted than it should have. The comedy of the dumb play that had sound shouldn’t have been a comedy with noise as it distracted the purpose even further of getting Claudius to cave in. Speaking of Claudius caving in his reaction to the play came very awkwardly as he stood up. Claudius gets up calmly in the most un-dramatic way possibly, and you could feel nothing or no reason to as why he stood. If he were to stand at least have Claudius go up a little faster or calmly say “enough” to Hamlet before leaving. Claudius picking up the fire and disapprovingly shaking his head at Hamlet also didn’t do much for the scene as a whole, sure it showed that Claudius knew what he was doing and was thinking “nice try” there was no point. That scene should have had drama and emotion but was played out so blandly overall it was a disappointment. Claudius should have quickly gone up and left and that would have been that. It would have made Hamlet’s speech of Claudius being guilty more understandable, because a guy calmly getting up means nothing.

  28. Option #1
    Murder of Gonzago Shuttle Comparison

    Both Mel Gibson and David Tennant's versions of the "Muder of Gonzago" clearly show the hidden meaning of the play but they both use different techniques to show it. In Gibson's version the play and the characters (Hamlet, Claudius) are more dramatic when watching the play giving an air of suspense to the audience. In Tennant's version there is an air of comedy which makes the whole experience creepier because of the inner conflict where Hamlet is mad or if he is sane. Gibson's version of Hamlet seems more civilized, showing more of a angry mad than a crazy mad. Both plays depict the dark meaning very well, Gibson's is dramatic and full of suspense wheres Tennant's begins with a comedy. The reaction of the people around them differ as well, in Gibson's Claudius seems to realize what the play is about and he portrays a shocked, disbelieving look but in Tennant's Claudius seems completely calm, almost disappointed in a way when he shakes his head at Hamlet before exiting. I also noticed in Gibson's version Ophelia seems to realize what is going on when she questions Hamlet, but she doesn't press any further when he answers that it is mischief. This keeps Ophelia's obedient glamour still in place. In Tennent's version this is shown as well, but Ophelia seems to be bored with Hamlet, as if she is tired of having to deal with his crazy antics, yet she still sits beside him completely obidient. Gertrude tries to keep things light in Gibson's version when she delivers her famous line, "The lady doth protests to much methinks." This adds to the effect that she knows something is wrong and is nervous about the situation. In Tennant's version Gertrude delivers this line almost in a monotone voice with some anger cutting through. This gives her away a little bit, showing that she knows something and is angry that Hamlet knows. Overall both scenes use different themes to get the point of the play across.

  29. Joseph C
    Option #2

    In Michael Almereyda's version of Hamlet’s “Mouse Trap,” Hamlet uses of clips of different films, to convey his feelings of resentment toward his mother, and expose what Claudius has done to "catch the conscience of the king." The first clip that is shown is of a flower opening up. The flower was used previously in the play as a representation of purity, because of the delicate nature of both. The flower represents Hamlet’s mother, and shows how she started off pure and beautiful. Scenes of happy families are the next clips shown, and they are meant to represent Hamlet’s family before the death of his father. The clips show a son playing with his father, and the father taking his son to bed. This shows Hamlet’s closeness with his father before he passed away, and leaves the audience seeing that Hamlet’s previous family was content and had no problems. A clip of the world turning shows how time passes, which sets up the next clip, and is the turning point of the video. A bottle of poison is shown, and a man walks into a room with a sleeping man, and drops the poison in the sleeping man’s ear. This resembles how Claudius supposedly killed King Hamlet, and the next scene of a man struggling represents how King Hamlet dies from the poison. A scene of a line of people falling one after another might show how Hamlet feels the Kingdom has, in a way, collapsed in a domino effect after King Hamlet’s death. A spiraling checkered pattern is shown after, which further suggests that the kingdom went into a whirlwind or has experienced a downward spiral. The same flower that was blossoming in the beginning is now shown wilting. Hamlet is saying that his mother has lost her purity after the death of King Hamlet, because she begins an “incetouos” relationship with Claudius and marries him two months after the death. A man with a Roman helmet is shown kissing a woman’s hand in a clip that looks similar to a previous one that showed someone taking another man away. Hamlet is saying that Claudius had King Hamlet removed, and then took his wife. After this, two people are shown passionately kissing and making love, which is supposed to be the Queen and the new King. An audience is shown clapping, which could represent how the country of Denmark has been accepting of the Queen marrying her late husband’s brother, and that Denmark has done nothing to show disapproval. The next scene is a man picking up a crown and placing it on his head, showing how Claudius stole the crown.
    The clips effectively convey Hamlet’s feelings of resentment toward his mother, by showing how she is a wilting flower, and by suggesting she did not mourn her husbands death, and almost immediately married Claudius after King Hamlet was killed or removed. Hamlet feels that Claudius has stolen the crown, and has ruined Hamlet’s once perfectly happy family. The clips show Claudius as the main antagonist and does not show many clips that target Hamlet’s mother, which differs from the play, since most of the play Hamlet wrote showed how his mother is unfaithful. The Queen’s image is damaged though in Almereyda's version, especially with the scene of Claudius and the Queen kissing. The intensity of this scene is significant because it suggests that the Queen does not feel the loss of her husband, and it really shows that their “incestous” relationship is repulsing and disgusting. Hamlet feels that Claudius stole the Queen, along with the crown, which is shown with the scenes of someone taking King Hamlet away, and then Claudius kissing the Queen’s hand. The audience clapping suggests that Hamlet thinks the public should have been less approving of Claudius marrying the Queen, since a large crowd clapping for two people kissing seems like an over reaction. The collage of clips that Hamlet has put together shows how Hamlet feels his perfect, happy family changed after his father was murdered by his uncle, and his mother has lost her purity when Claudius had stole her, and the crown.

  30. Tess B.
    Option #3
    In Zeffirelli’s scene the over-dramatized reaction of Claudius to the intentional similarities Hamlet places in the play depicting a king’s death does not accurately display the silent shock I gathered Claudius possessing upon watching the play in the book. Zeffirelle’s scene begins with Gibson saying “You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.” He directs this comment towards Gertrude who gives him a glare of ice in return. The director’s choice in having Hamlet directly deliver this line to Gertrude serves its purpose because the line carries with it a double meaning meant for Gertrude to feel the guilt of what Hamlet believes is a sin. Gertrude’s response does not mimic the passive response I expected from the book’s portrayal of her demeanor. Moving forwards into the scene, the actors carry on with the depiction of King Hamlet’s death until the abrupt standing of Claudius stops the actors and gathers the attention of the audience. He makes a huge display of his shock, and more importantly, his guilt, as he sharply inhales and his eyes widen. The abrupt standing is expected but that should stand to remain the only clue as to his guilt. Zeffirelli over does the reaction and makes it too obvious that the King is guilty especially when the King runs down the aisle holding his ear as if he has been physically affected by the poison himself. The scene drags on and what was supposed to be a subtle rising and departure turns into the main display of the play. Ophelia is supposed to say “the King rises” but she does not say this line as she is not in her place next to Hamlet. The Queen’s reaction to her husband’s sudden discomfort seems appropriate. She asks if he is alright with genuine concern and she, as well as most of the crowd, follows the King upon his departure from the theater. She looks back at Hamlet one last time as if in warning to be careful. Hamlet and Ophelia have an interaction where he tells her one last time to go to a nunnery. This scene does not, and serves no purpose to exist. The theater should be empty except for Hamlet and Horatio who, in the movie, did not seem thrilled by the King’s disturbed reaction and Hamlet’s jubilant dancing in response. I did not gather much emotion from Horatio in the book so perhaps he was as quietly tense in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” as he was in Zeffirelli’s. Zeffirelli should have made Ophelia a larger part of the scene and made Claudius’s reaction less outwardly dramatic but more tense and rigid which could be shown by the emotion in his features.

  31. Hamlet 3.1 Soliloquy Shuttle Comparison
    Again, I have chosen Branagh and Tennant as my Hamlet examples because they both show possibly accurate emotional displays of Hamlet. Branagh's performance of this soliloquy visually shows Ophelia & Claudius eavesdropping on him as he really deeply ponders life and the life beyond it, or as we all call it, "death." I adore Branagh's portrayal this time around because hamlet is mad enough to be sure in his own dysfunctional mind of the innermost thoughts of it. Tennant however, still goes on making Hamlet a paranoid looking freak, someone who needs help and doesn't have faith in what he is doing. I believe Hamlet in this scene really has a lot of underlying meanings. Hamlet discusses whether life is really worth living because an escape from the pain is so near.. but then, what would one escape to? Hamlet ponders everyday questions in this soliloquy which is what I appreciate most about it. Branagh keeps Hamlet tied to the thought while Tennant looks tired and distracted.

  32. Option Number Three; Third Clip
    I hate the setting. The casual Hamlet doesn't fit the character in my mind at all. As a director, I would elaborate the physical setting to match the language used by Hamlet. The boring normalcy of it all turns me away from it and I cannot bear to watch it. The goings on of Hamlet's mind aren't coming out of it, but rather just a voice-over as he walks through a video-store like Blockbuster.

  33. Option One Shuttle Comparison "Mousetrap"

    I chose to watch the works of GIbson and Hawke again because i enjoyed their performances the last time i watched them. Once again i found that the actors in the Gibson version overreacted to the point that it was theatrical this was interesting and made it seem more like a play and less like a movie. Claudius was very flamboyant with his performance while watching "Mousetrap" he didn't try to hide it whatsoever which made the performance seem somewhat unrealistic but it did do a good job of showing how surprised and frightened Claudius was when he saw "Mousetrap". Hawkes version was much more realistic and modern. The acting was low key but not bland. Claudius in this version made a quick escape not drawing too much attention to himself which is what a real person probably would have done. Gibson did a good job of showing the insanity that is Hamlet. His emotions were as full of life as possible. Hawke was much more laid back and sane. He portrayed more modern reactions which were easy to relate too. Hawkes focused on Gertrude and Claudius. It was aimed at breaking them both at the same time. The part that stood out to me the most was that woman having sex which was clearly highlighting the fact the Gertrude cheated on King Hamlet and is involved with incest. Gibsons focused just on Claudius but it is shown that Hamlet has also struck Gertrude when she looks back at him in pain whilst he is celebrating. The music in Hawkes version was very intense which made the situation that much more nerve breaking. Gibsons version lacked music related to the vibe of the scene.

  34. Paula Costa

    “The Murder of Gonzago” Performance Comparison

    David Tennant’s version portrays this particular scene in a very upbeat, funny way whereas Mel Gibson’s version portrays it in a more serious and suspenseful approach. The setting of Gibson’s version is more time appropriate both with the wooden pillars and chairs, but also with the Shakespearean wardrobe while Tennant’s version is played in what a modern palace would look like and the clothes are also modern (tuxedos). Gibson’s version starts with “You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.” which in the actual texts causes the king to rise and put an end to the play but in the scene it only starts the dumb show juxtaposed to Tennant’s version where he starts from “Speak the speech” in which he talks to the players, then Horatio and only afterwards starts the play. Both versions have the dumb show included in their scenes: in Gibson’s version the only performance is the dumb show and it is executed in a formal theatrical way unlike Tennant’s version which shows the dumb show as really silly and playful which leads to the real play in a more serious note. Gibson’s version skips the real play and it just sticks with the dumb play which surprisingly does not take away that much from the scene but the part where Hamlet talks about his mother whereas Tennant’s version does a throughout job in portraying the scene according to the text. Tennant’s version incorporates comedy into the dumb show and play itself by having the actors have really big ears, inappropriate clothing and act silly while acting whereas in Gibson’s version the players portray the scene in a very serious manner by having the murderer wear a black vest that covers him whole giving him a creepy evil look. Tennant’s version adds a little to the play by having the actor who is playing the dead king put a white sheet over him and act like a ghost while Gibson’s version adds to the play by having the dead king’s crown fall to the floor adding to the dramatic side of the play instead of having the anon take it before putting the poison in his ear. In Gibson’s version, the king stands up, walks almost to the stage and acts as if he is not feeling well then runs off screaming “give me so light” while in Tennant’s version the kind does not stand up, walk away, or show any big emotion towards the matter. At the end of Gibson’s version he completely drifts from the original text and runs out and sings with the players skipping the poetry part and talks and kisses Ophelia which never happens in the book while Tennant’s version sticks with the book almost all the way except with how the King never reacted. Both versions focused on the main subject which was to catch the conscience of the king and portrayed that well in their dumb shows. The difference was that Tennant chose to stay traditional with the plot and lines while completely modernizing the way it was acted whereas Gibson stayed traditional with the acting but modernized some plot and lines.

  35. Kate P.
    Option #1
    Murder of Gonzago Shuttle Comparison

    I found the performance of both Tennant and Gibson to be a bit unnerving, as they both showed a bit more than the others, the insanity and unstability of Hamlet at this time in the play. In Gibson's performance, Hamlet takes the reaction of the king very seriously, in such a way that he looks more intense than the others, perhaps the way he follows the king, or always keeps him insight, jumping at any chance he gets to explain the significance of te play to his mother and Claudius. The director of Tennant's performance took a different route in that they had Hamlet film the king's reaction. Something I found about all of the clips from Tennant's Hamlet is that he has a very convincing way of playing a visibly insane person, and that's no different in this scene. Something in the way he crawls on the floor, the way he has that crazy look in his eyes is something that I think Gibson and the other actors lack to some extent. Both appear very hell bent on discovering the truth, but Gibson seems much more rational than Tennant about it, because the way Tennant acts, primarily his erratic movements, are particularly chilling. Also, the way Ophelia addresses Hamlet is very different in the two versions; with Tennant, the director has Ophelia act much more lovingly towards him, like she's concerned for him, where the Ophelia in Gibson's version seems a bit more hesitant around him. Lastly, the reactions of Claudius are completely different in the two versions. In Tennant's, he seems remarkably unphased by the play, shaking his head at Hamlet as he exists as if to say, "I know what you are doing, and it's not working." Gibson's Claudius differs in that he appears completely flustered from the performance, exiting hastily to find air, essentially giving Hamlet the reaction he wanted all along.

  36. Option three for Tennant Version

    In David Tennant's version of the Gonzago murder scene, there were many directional and acting choices that I would do differently to convey a contrasting attitude for this scene. In Tennant's version, Hamlet sits on the ground with Ophelia clearly video taping Claudius reaction. I imagined in the book that the stage would be bigger, and the audience much larger also. I suppose it makes sense for that time period, to have a play be performed in close proximity to the ten people in the audience, but I think that if Claudius thought his reaction was more secret it would make Hamlet's discovery of his guilt more intense and surprising. I did not like how Tennant kept getting on the stage, with anxious eyes, to speak with Claudius and Gertrude about the play. I imagined those comments as more of an aside and I think that his loudness really interrupted the play. I think that the organization of the audience versus the players was distracting and confusing. Hamlet should be in the audience too, pretending to enjoy the play as he watches for Claudius' reaction. As for Claudius' reaction, it was undramatic. I imagined him getting up quickly, looking vulnerable and motioning for Polonius to help him as he squirmed under the pressure. Instead he just stood up and shook his head at Hamlet, who could not have been more obvious about taping his reaction. Also, for such a formal setting and compared tot he attire of the rest of the audience, Hamlet is out of place because he has no shoes on. That was very distracting to me and whether its because he's supposed to be mad or just because it was a directional choice I think it gave off the impression of immaturity and informality instead of insanity. Although this idea of the "Mousetrap" has a thread of insanity to it, it is Hamlet's best option and it quite intellectual of him to put the whole thing together. Because of this importance I think he should've portrayed a smarter perspective about the execution of the play by his staging in the audience, his reactions, his tone of voice, and his body position.

  37. Michael M

    Option #1

    Branagh chooses to portray this scene with regard to the script, while Tennant chooses to stick with the more laid back approach to the scene. Branagh shows Hamlet thrashing Ophelia with the sex jokes that are seen to be rude and offensive. Tennant includes the same sex jokes, yet he does it in such a way that they do not come off as offensive. Instead Ophelia seems to hug Hamlet tighter with each sexual remark. Both directors try to keep the play in a similar standpoint of acting. Tennant uses all male acting for the parts, much like would have been seen up on stage in Elizabethan England. Meanwhile, Branagh uses a more contemporary auditorium, stage like presence, unlike the private chambers feels of Tennant’s version. Tennant also choose to have very little dialogue amongst the actors, while Branagh’s actors each had long deep speeches about the situation put in place by Claudius. Branagh strays from Tennant’s idea to include Claudius’s intense sexuality that has driven him to this sin. The slinky behind the heart was a nice addition by Tennant, using few words to show huge ambitions. Branagh's Hamlet is also very loud and outspoken. He is seen blurting the actors lines and speaking directly to everyone throughout the play. In Tennant’s version he seems more refrained, even keeping the sex jokes quite. The King and Queen’s reactions are very different in the two directing choices. Branagh portrays Gertrude as stunned by the performance and almost angered. Meanwhile, in Tennant’s version there is little to no reaction from the Queen at all. The King has similar reactions, just on a higher scale, as the Queen in each. In Tennant’s version the King calmly rises from his throne, stares at at Hamlet and proceeds to leave the room. Then in Branagh’s version there is the rising tension in Claudius’s face followed by a very dramatic apex as Claudius suddenly arises and leaves hastily. One play within a play, two directors, and two totally different scenes are shown from Tennant and Branagh’s version of “The Mouse Trap”.

  38. Kerri C.

    3.1 Shuttle Comparison

    Franco Zeffirelli and Michael Almereyda have two different approaches to the way that Hamlet performs this scene and the way Hamlet displays himself. Almereyda’s modern scene in the comic book store reveals the pain within Hamlet while Zeffirelli places Hamlet in a burial tomb surrounded by the dead which shows that Hamlet is facing pain, sadness, depression, and is ready to give up on life. Surrounding Hamlet with the dead remains provides the idea that he may personally feel dead on the inside. This is different from how Almereyda has Hamlet walking down the action aisle of the store, but still provides the pain that he faces in his surroundings. This is because the fire on the televisions he walks by reveal the torture he is feeling on the inside, fury that he is filled with, and the need for revenge. Franco Zeffirelli also uses foreshadowing because since Hamlet is surrounded by the death it leads you to conclude that someone that Hamlet knows or is close to may die in the near future.

  39. Kerri C.

    Option #2

    In the third clip by Michael Almereyda the director put together clips of actions that Hamlet knew of, so that he could “catch the conscience of the King”. Hamlet presenting this film of clips to the King and his mother, the Queen, shows the need of revenge that Hamlet embodies.

    The first clip that the film shows is of a bottle of poison followed by a shadowy figure looming in the background and a man that appears to be asleep on a couch. While this man is asleep a vial filled with poison is dropped into his ear. The poison then kills the man. These first few clips were pasted together to get a reaction from the King, which it does because as each clip reveals itself on the screen he leans in closer and closer. Hamlet continuously looks back to see the reaction that the King has to the video playing so he can verify what he believed to be true. After the first person dies there are multiple clips of other things dying like the vibrant flower and the people dropping like flies.

    The little boy that creeps down the stairs in a sense is Hamlet and how he met te ghost of his father and that he was a witness to what had happened to his father and to what occurred after the death of his father. This was used as a technique to make the King nervous and uneasy. Gertrude is portrayed by Hamlet to be a disgusting woman because of the selected clips where the woman and the man are playing with each other’s tongues and faces that she makes when having stuff done to her by the man. These clips reveal that Hamlet sees his mother differently than he used to and he now sees her as a dirty and grotesque woman.

    Looping back to the male character placing the crown on his head in the film after the woman it draws the King back into the film. He then reacts to the film by standing up and leaving the room at the end in rapid speed. Racing out of the room gives confirmation to Hamlet and in turn he has caught ”the conscience of the King”.

    This film put together with the mashup of clips from other videos shows exactly what has happened in Shakespeare’s text. Executing the main ideas in an inventive way that captures the essence of the whole act that occurs on the video segment. The main ideas that were scene were the need of revenge for Hamlet because of his father’s death, how his views of his mother had drastically changed because of the loss of his father, and the need of closure related to the death of Hamlet’s dad.

  40. Melanie MacDonald
    Option 1
    While the Hawke and Gibson versions used different mediums in order to portray the Murder of Gonzago, and chose certain parts from the play to focus on, both revealed the conscious of Claudius, and expressed the excitement that Hamlet was feeling. Both of the directors made the decision to have the Murder of Gonzago conveyed in a dumb show, without words. Although in the play version, there is both a dumb show, and a part with dialogue, these film versions decided not to incorporate dialogue, which allowed the message to be conveyed directly through actions. In the Gibson version of this play, the director decides to focus primarily on the actual murder of the King. The play starts off with the King sleeping, and a cloaked figure sneaks onto the stage. From the very beginning, Claudius looks surprised and uncertain on what is happening. He starts to rise from his seat as the cloaked figure approaches the sleeping king with poison, and stands up as he pours the poison into the King’s ear, a mere 30 seconds in. In the Hawke version, when he sees the vial of poison he looks surprised and uncertain. He continues to look surprised and in shock for the rest of the play, and stands up at the end when the new king put the crown on. Some people assisted him out of the theater, and Claudius stumbled on his way out, but not nearly as much commotion was made compared to the Gibson version. In that version, The entire theater followed Claudius out, in a mass of chaos. In both versions, Hamlet asks Claudius if he was “Frightened with False Fire”, which cues the King in that Hamlet had a plan all along. In the Gibson version, he acts very excited, and almost mad, and shouts with his friends. In the Hawke version, he is exited the ‘caught the conscience of the king’, but he shows his excitement in a more subdued approach.
    During the actual Murder of Gonzago, Hawke version was longer and included things other than solely the man pouring poison into the King’s ear. In this version, Hawke pieces movie clips together to make a scene. In the beginning, he shows a family, and includes happy father and son moments. I think this worked to break down Claudius to remind him the man he killed was more than the King, that he had a family and that he was a good man and father. This version also shows the poison, and the killing of the king, similar to the Gibson version, except after Hawke added a couple clips in the movie to directly show his anger towards his mom. The Gibson version did not have anything that illustrated Hamlet’s relationship to his mother. I think that the things that were in the Hawke version and not the Gibson version showed revealed more about Hamlet’s character. For instance, the father and son moments in the beginning revealed that he missed his father dearly, and the times they shared, and the scenes with a woman that is supposed to represent his mother show his anger towards her and how he thinks she is like a whore. Overall, I think the version with Hawke did a better job of showing the Mousetrap, and did a better job of showing the “conscience of the king.”

  41. Winslow L.
    Option 1
    The dramatic and unstable response given by Claudius in the scene directed by Franco Zeffirelli displays an interesting, human quality, to Claudius which isn’t seen in the rendition directed by David Tennant. Upon seeing the reenactment of the murder of his brother, Claudius appears very uneasy to say the least. He staggers up to the stage with his hand pressed against his head. While up there he staggers again, looking as if he's ready to collapse. Then, he looks to the crowd and laughs, a very strange reaction for a man that looked shocked just moments ago. In tennant's version, Claudius gets up calmly with a hint of uneasiness displayed on his face, and walks with normal speed to the front of the stage. Then, when delivering the line "give me some light", Claudius does so by shouting it out to the the audience and then hurrying outside in the version created by Franco Zeffirelli. In the version created by David Tennant, Claudius calmly asks for light from a servant, walks to Hamlet and shakes his head in disapproval. This is a sharp contradiction in the way these scenes are portrayed. I believe the Marco Zeffirelli version was made the way it was to make clear the guilt that Claudius has for murdering his brother. This can be seen in the bewildered look he gives the actor right before exiting the room. He looks as if he is in disbelief of what he has done, and this disbelief is clearly making him uneasy. Hamlet's behavior is very similar in both the Zeffirelli and Tennant version. In both renditions he seems wirey and fixed on the reactions of both Claudius and Gertrude. In the Zeffirelli version, Gibson is literally climbing over people to get a good look at Claudius's expression. Tennant is looking for anything he can find as far as a reaction goes. He even hints at the meaning of the play by telling Claudius that the title of the play is "The Mouse Trap". Both renditions portray Hamlet this way to show his desperation for a reaction. No reaction from Claudius would leave Hamlet with many questions about the spirit who visited him, so he must be able to sense something wrong with Claudius's demeanor.

  42. Rachael S.
    Throughout the Gibson and Tennant versions of “The Murder of Gonzago”, the actors play into Hamlet’s madness. When the play begins Gibson is going crazy with anticipation, sitting in a chair slouched down and constantly checking on Claudius’s reaction. Much like how Tennant also sits slouched, though it is upon Ophelia’s lap, and he continuously turns the video camera on Claudius, careful to capture his response to the play. Neither can sit still throughout the play due to the madness within them that keeps shining through. Even in the way they address Claudius and Gertrude comes off as pure madness. Tennant’s madness appears to be more lighthearted and funny when addressing his mother and uncle, as though he finds himself quite clever and funny for making such fools of them. Whereas Gibson is mad though in a more serious way. He questions Claudius and his mother more cunningly deceptive and mad rather than mockingly like Tennant. Hamlet’s actions towards Ophelia also reveal his madness. At the end of the play Gibson rushes to her and kisses her telling her to go to a nunnery, this being the only interaction they have during the play. This action characterizes Hamlet’s madness for it is unexpected by Ophelia, seemingly out-of-the-blue, impulsive just like a mad-man would be. Tennant instead discusses with Ophelia throughout the play, all the while making sexual jokes towards her and laying on her, occasionally biting her arm. He appears to be doing these actions impulsively like Gibson, though Ophelia does not respond as though she is scared or offended like the Ophelia of Gibson’s version did. One last case of the evident madness being played by both actors is their running around after Claudius leaves. They both seem joyous at his perfect reaction and cannot contain the strength of their feelings and must run around to let them out.

  43. Cody Eaton
    option 2

    Michael Almereyda’s “Mouse Trap” covers Hamlet’s situation by using surprisingly simple footage that fits into the much more complex context.
    The film opens with a typical family portrait: smiling parents, doting upon their beloved child. Affection is abundant, and it portrays as ideal a childhood as could be. The interaction of the young boy with his father fits well with Hamlet’s glorious portrayals of his father as God-like, comparable to Hyperion. However, this image is most likely burnished by its contrast with his contempt and disgust for Claudius.
    The film then depicts the poisoning of Hamlet, using simple cartoon footage. By using such flat animations rather than actual footage, he implies how fundamentally wrong the action was. There are three separate clips illustrating the death of Hamlet, ensuring that Claudius could not miss the hint if he tried. He is left to dwell on these images as the young boy tip-toes down the stairs.
    As the boy watches from behind a corner, crude clips portraying Claudius and Gertrude fill the screen. The first shows one of Hamlet’s murderers kissing the queen on the hand. At first she seems reluctant, but then she gives in. The scene exemplifies just how easily Gertrude submitted to Claudius, as if within seconds. This resonates strongly to the lines “The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.” 1.2.87-88 The ensuing clip appears to be extracted from a sex scene, much to the dismay of Gertrude; her shame and embarrassment is made quite obvious.
    The closing scene depicts an old, wrinkled man placing a crown upon his head, delighted it seems. Claudius then storms out of the theatre, visibly shaken and disturbed. It seems that Hamlet has successfully conveyed his thoughts of his mother, and gotten to Claudius all in one film.
    The film stays very close to Shakespeare’s writing, ensuring that the themes and attitudes are drawn out so that the majority of viewers can identify them.

  44. Meghan O.
    Option #3

    Kenneth Branagh’s version of “The Murder of Gonzago” left very little to desire, except for a few things. Overall, the performance was very good. Branagh is a very good actor and he did a great job of conveying the arrogance and pompous attitude of the facade that Hamlet put up before the show. One thing that I believe that Branagh could have accomplished to better the show would be to not have Hamlet scream toward Claudius and Gertrude while the performance was going on. I feel as if this made the scene too forward and made Claudius want to act less overwhelmed because he knew all the attention was being drawn onto him. Instead, Hamlet should have whispered it to Ophelia, and just let the home viewer audience hear what he was saying, rather than the entire atrium of people in the theatre. Hamlet spent a while talking about how he wanted to make completely sure that Claudius was guilty before he made his move to take revenge on him. He said something along the lines of "Shall he but blench", and the fact that he was screaming torward the king must have contributed to his uneasiness, therefore putting him under great pressure. This would greatly improve the scene because Hamlet would feel like he didn’t contribute to the uncomfortableness of Claudius, therefore his reaction to the play would be less biased and more true. Also, I feel as if the actual performance of the murder of Gonzago was not emotional enough. The words that were spoken by the players were quiet and not thoroughly emotional.

  45. Julissa S.
    Option 1

    Kenneth Branagh distinctly plays his role in a bright yet enriching scenery as compared to Mel Gibson where he performs the soliloquy in a underground dark what seems to be cave filled with soulless bodies. Mel Gibson seems to portray a simple minded Hamlet more of a type of Hamlet that is not going to take action. Mel Gibson himself doesn't seem convinced that he will perform active suicide to or death to any extent. The closing of the scene is the light dimming but instead in Kenneth's play Ophelia appears. Not only is that an interesting ending to the soliloquy but during the soliloquy Claudius seems to be watching upon Hamlet and almost heart fetchingly sweating of nervousness. Not to mention Hamlet pulls out a knife almost as a tease to take away his own life as the knife makes contact along his face. The knife is a powerful symbol of not being passive and taking action. Kenneth seems to be extremely engaged with his inner feelings of hatred and revenge. The mirror was a more discrete idea because from his reactions you could tell Kenneth's intentions and his facial expressions emphasized his feelings . While Mel Gibson seemed calm throughout the whole soliloquy.

  46. Option #3
    I watched Ethan Hawke’s version of the “Mouse Trap” and I greatly admired the creative approach the director took when creating the direction in which he went with making the mash-up of the film. Although, there are some changes I would have made myself. Not much was verbalized from either Hamlet or Claudius, not as much as in the other versions I watched. the verbalization really helps the viewer understand exactly what sort of intense emotions both of these men are experiencing at the given moment, specifically when the “play King” is being poisoned. When Claudius stands up and exclaims, “give me light”, I wish the director would have had Hamlet be more angry with his reaction. When Hawke speaks to Claudius right before he walks out, he does not seem to angry with his expression, more excited. There really wasn’t much conversation between Hawke and Claudius, or even Hawke and Ophelia that would have hinted at any sort of emotion Hawke was experiencing. He was not really interacting with his environment either, as in Branagh and Tennant’s versions. I would have had Hawke be explaining his film as it was playing, as Branagh does with his play as well as Tennant. It gives the viewer the feeling that Hamlet is relying greatly on the performance of this play to go smoothly, as to “capture the conscience of the King”. I would have also had Hawke interact with Ophelia in his inappropriate manner. When he does this, the viewer realizes how much he really has lost it, and establishes how their relationship is at that very moment. Hamlet is disrespectful, as well as dirty, which gives an insight on his mindset at the time, and how much the outcome of the play is gnawing at his mind during it. Hawke spoke one line to Ophelia in his version, and it made it seem as if they were on good terms at that point, which is known they are not. Branagh’s version must have made a great impression on me, because I wish Hawke’s version including the back and forth between Hamlet and Gertrude. This moment establishes the kind of terms that Hamlet and his mother are on at the moment, before they confront each other about their feelings. I would include this in Hawke’s version, as the Gertrude in his version is blatantly disgusted with what her son put in her movie. Although this version was very creative and unconventional, it lacked some of the information that was crucial to the development of Hamlet, Claudius’, Gertrude’s and Ophelia’s characters during that important scene of the play.