Comparing Branagh and Olivier
The two movie versions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that are directed by Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh have similarities and differences. The similarities include how Hamlet feels betrayed by his mother because of her sudden marriage after the death of his father. The differences include how Hamlet is portrayed as a character. Olivier uses the Hamlet’s relationship with Gertrude and his soliloquy to portray Hamlet as confused, whereas Branagh uses the same dynamics to portray Hamlet as furious.
Olivier presents Hamlet’s relationship with Gertrude as more physical in order to indicate Hamlet’s confusion, while Branagh presents the relationship between Hamlet and his mother as less physical to reinforce his feelings of frustration. During the scene where Claudius and Gertrude are encouraging Hamlet to stay in Denmark, Gertrude freely touches Hamlet and kisses him on the mouth to console her grieving son (Olivier, 1948). During this scene, Hamlet is sitting at the edge of the table wearing all black and is turned away from everyone. He is upset that his mother has remarried such a short time after his father’s death. His tone of voice suggests that he is full of grief, devastated about the death of his father, and feeling betrayed by his mother. Even though he feels betrayed, Hamlet passively allows his mother to embrace and kiss him. Hamlet is confused, and has no sense of how to deal with his conflicting feelings. Branagh, however, presents the relationship between Hamlet and his mother without any physical contact between the two. During the same scene in Branagh’s version, the queen smiles and encourages Hamlet to stay instead of returning to Wittenberg (Branagh, 1996). In comparison to Olivier’s Hamlet, Branagh’s Hamlet has a different tone of voice. His tone of voice is on the edge of tears. When Gertrude consoles Hamlet and urges him to stay in Denmark, he agrees to stay, but does not engage in any physical contact with...
Cited: Hamlet. Dir. Laurence Olivier. Perf. Laurence Olivier. Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 1948. Film.
Hamlet. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Kenneth Branagh. Warner Bros., 1996. Film.
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