I. Thesis Statement
While the book preserves its classic terminology, which is static, the film provides dynamic version of interpretation so that we see more depth in the characters such as Gertrude.
II. Overview of the Materials Being Discussed:
1. The full name of the book is, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. 2. The author of the book is William Shakespeare.
3. The film was produced by The Royal Shakespeare Company.
The genre of Hamlet is tragedy. The inciting incident of the play is that the King Hamlet appeared as a ghost wearing armor and revealed that Claudius murdered him. Hamlet has conflicts himself about whether to avenge Claudius or not because he is not sure the King’s honesty. While Claudius and Polonius surveil Hamlet, Hamlet stabs Polonius, and he creates unavoidable strife with Claudius. Claudius manipulates Laertes into revenge, so Laertes challenges Hamlet a combat, and Hamlet accepts it. The ending IS a sad denouement because everyone succeeds in blood revenge, and they all die at the end of the scene.
Hamlet is protagonist with a fatal flaw. He leads the whole story from the beginning to the end. The point of view focuses on Hamlet, and Shakespeare primarily describes Hamlet’s conflicts inside of his mental. Hamlet struggles due to his father’s revenge and finally he revenges on antagonist. Hamlet is antagonist also because he constantly suffers himself due to his thoughts; thinking of his mother’s insane marriage, and his father’s death sparks him revenge. Thus, Hamlet is antagonist toward himself. Claudius is clear antagonist in Hamlet. He murdered the king, and re-married his sister-in-law. Claudius surveils Hamlet when Hamlet pretends to be crazy, and he sends Hamlet to England to kill him. Polonius, a faithful counselor of Claudius, is killed by Hamlet behind the tapestry while peeping at Gertrude and Hamlet. Horatio plays an interesting role in the play; he is the only one whom Hamlet trusts and relies on. Horatio stays consistent with Hamlet and gives him advice. At the end, Horatio cleans up everything and announce the story to the world. Gertrude, the queen and Hamlet’s mother who remarried Claudius, eventually dies drinking poison, which is originally targeted to Hamlet. Laertes is counterpart of Hamlet who mainly resolves the problem. He charges Hamlet to avenge of Polonius and Ophelia, so the bloody fencing match, which is the last scene in which every character dies, holds. Ophelia is Polonius’ daughter who loves Hamlet. She keeps unease behavior and being dragged by other character. She becomes mentally sick after Polonius’ death, and consequently commits suicide.
The lesson of the play is that a person will certainly be punished if commits sin or harm someone.
VI. Spectacle of the Film
Film helps readers to understand the original play easier. As an active device, visual elements such as light, expression, and clothing refer the atmosphere of scene and characters’ traits. For example, Gertrude always wears saturated-colored clothes. In Act1, Scene2, when people commemorate Claudius’ throne, Gertrude wears a dark-blue dress that seems somber and cold. The blue color of her dress represents that she is cold-blooded, so she could remarry her brother-in-law less than two month after the king died. Her red dress, in Act 3, Scene 2, shows her passion towards the authority. Like her clothing colors, her behavior is greedy and ambitious. For Ophelia, she always wears ambiguous and faint colored clothes; it shows that her character is unstable and easily swayed. As the film heading to the end, both Gertrude and Ophelia become disheveled. The queen’s hair becomes messy, and she does not wear organized make up. Likewise, Ophelia’s lips are pale and she has deep-dark circle under her eyes after Polonius’ death. Consequently, an appearance of actors emphasizes their emotional changes, so the audience catches the traits of characters.
Lighting plays a role to switch the mood of the scene; in the dark, actors are usually in a bad mood. It also creates gloomy mood of the scene. For instance, the light is very dark when the dead King appears to tell the truth. The light shows daytime and nighttime by controlling the amount of light. And a spotlight brings concentration upon the actor who is playing.
Background music generally appears when the tension is raised. For instance, when Hamlet approaches Claudius to kill him in Act 3, Scene 3, the serious sound heightens the situation. The film does not contain unnecessary sounds, so the lines of actors can be listened clearly. There is a little echo with their voice, and it creates an equivalent mood to watching a play in the theater. When Ophelia sings the song, it raises miserable feelings to an extreme state. Rather than merely reading her singing, watching her sadness and listening to her wailing stimulate audiences’ emotion, so they can empathize with the character.
Ophelia, who loves Hamlet, seems a delicate and weak lady in the play. Her older brother Laertes and her father Polonius always nag her to be aware of Hamlet. She is obedient to them and never refutes aggressively; she seems static and passive in the book. In Act 1, Scene 3, Laertes advises Ophelia not to trust Hamlet before he leaves to France. Ophelia answers him to keep his advice. She said, “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine, himself the primrose path of dalliance treads and recks not his own rede”(43). This shows that Ophelia is placid and respectful. In the scene of film, she is more active and lively. She lashes out at Laertes; she takes his condoms out of his suitcase instead of saying that long line of dialogue from the original. Also, when Polonius dies, Ophelia shows reckless behavior when Claudius let Gertrude talk to her.
VIII. Outstanding Moment
The outstanding moment is when the queen drinks poisoned alcohol in the last scene. In the text of play, Gertrude simply denies when Claudius stops her from drinking. It seems that she merely proceeds to drink because she is over excited due to Hamlet’s predominance in the fencing match. She says, “I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me” (326). According to that, it is difficult to judge that Gertrude intentionally drinks a cup to protect Hamlet because she notices there is poison in the cup. Readers can only guess and imagine through the lines in the book. However, in the film, she shows a grim face and hesitance at the moment when Claudius says, “Gertrude, do not drink” (326). Through her action and facial expression in the movie, I see that she intends to drink poison to save her Hamlet. This scene is impressive because Gertrude seems to commit suicide as apology for the dead kiang.
In high school, students are compelled to read world literature and get to know Shakespeare. The very first impression of Shakespeare is frightening and complicating due to the fact that everyone has once heard about “classical” masterpiece is composed of old language, and classical literature typifies hardship of English class. However, high technological development gives a chance to understand these masterpieces better by putting it into visual devices, such as film. It has facial expressions, actions, some humorous satire, and stage settings that emphasize what is playing on the screen. Indeed, visual elements offer easier approach to comprehend ancient literature; preference of watching film rather than reading a book stems from easier understanding. As we can see, the film version of Hamlet provides collateral elements, and it makes some ambiguous scenes of original play clear. Also, feature of the actors becomes plain rather than the text. Hence, while the text of play inherits the original form, which keeps archaic language, the film offers new version that retails visual stimulation, so it delivers deeper understanding of characters.
Hamlet. Dir. Gregory Doran. The Royal Shakespeare Company, 2010. Film. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet (The New Folger Library Shakespeare). Simon & Schuster;
New Folger Edition, 2003. Print.
“Hamlet.” The Making of Hamlet. Great Performances. PBS, 2010. Web. 5 May. 2013.
< http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/hamlet/the-making-of-hamlet/983/> SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Hamlet.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2007.
Web. 6 May 2013. < http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/hamlet/citing.html>