Hamlet - To Be Or Not To Be

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Shakespeare's "To be, or not to be" speech can be interpreted in many different ways. In the Gibson, Jacobi, and Branagh versions, senses of depression, contemplation, and vengeance were conveyed. All of the emotions represented by the actors were appropriate, given the mental and physical states of Hamlet in the context of the play.

In the Mel Gibson version, Hamlet was portrayed as a depressed and suicidal individual. He wore a black, leathery outfit, with a small dagger tied around the waist. The setting began with Hamlet descending through chiaroscuro into dark and gloomy catacombs, filled with skulls on the wall and a large sarcophagus. Gibson's gestures included walking through scattered bones while looking around aimlessly, and placing his hands on his chin during "To sleep! perchance to dream!" During this line he also closed his eyes representing the sleep of death itself. His pace started to speed up as his anger grew when he said, "That patient merit of unworthy takes," but returned to his original stride as he collapsed saying "who would these fardels bear." Emphasis was placed on the line, "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all," which explained Hamlet's anger at his own inability to take his revenge. This interpretation of the speech was possible because of Hamlet's intense grief over the death of his father.

In contrast, the Derek Jacobi version, represented the speech in a much lighter tone. The setting was a bright hallway, and Hamlet wore a white, airy, poet shirt. He reasoned his actions by talking directly to the audience, while Gibson's Hamlet merely looked off into space. Props included in the scene were a chair, a pendant medallion, a small dagger, and a silhouette of Ophelia in the distance. The walls were painted to look as if they were a sunny balcony looking out over a river. During the opening, Derek held himself tightly, representing his efforts to reassure himself in his beliefs. While he said, "When he himself might his...
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