Hamlet Nunnery Scene Analysis

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I think the the adaptation of the nunnery scene by Kenneth Branagh was the most effective of the ones we viewed, for through its symbolic use of setting, its inclusion of the complete Hamlet text, and the emphasis placed on the shifts in tone between the young lovers Hamlet and Ophelia, it incorporates subtleties of theme and meaning of the original play, which other adaptation fail to convey.

The main reason why Branagh’s adaptation, according to me, was the most successful was because he tried to stay as faithful as possible to the original text, deciding not to omit any dialogue whatsoever. By cutting out lines, the other directors manipulate openly the play, thus not providing a faithful adaptation, but rather a subjective interpretation. The Branagh adaptation thus brings the viewer closer to Shakespeare’s play by eliminating the middle man, and not trying to make the play more “accessible” or “entertaining”, but rather giving the viewer the benefit of building their own interpretation of the complex play of Hamlet, instead of being spoon-fed. For example, I enjoyed the fact that Branagh was the only one to include Ophelia’s soliloquy after Hamlet storms off. This addition made the scene longer, but was crucial to the understanding of Ophelia as a complex character, and not just as a stock figure, for we gain access to her own perspective on the facts, and learn about how she is guilty, tormented for being forced to choose between her father and her fiancee. This scene also foreshadows her eventual descent into madness, culminating in suicide, which otherwise would come more as an odd surprise. Also, this adaptation includes visually the stage directions of Shakespeare, according to which Polonius is hiding behind a drape, assisting to the whole scene. Branagh has a quick cut from the scene between Ophelia and Hamlet, to Polonius, seen reflected in one of the mirrors in the scene - thus we are introduced to another perspective behind the action.

I...
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