This film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is my personal favourite rendition of any Shakespearean film, as Kenneth Branagh chooses to use the entirety of Hamlet‘s script. The use of the entire script allows for the actors and scenes they act within to be expressed to their fullest, as each word may be succinctly recited from the play with no changes or alterations, whilst maintaining the beauty and purity of a Shakespearean film.
Within the final scene of the movie and play, Act 5, Scene 2, Laertes and Hamlet duel, which begins the gruesome finale within which all of the main characters present within the throne room die. An interesting adaptation seen within the film when compared to the play is Hamlet and Laertes’ stripping of their clothes in the later stages of their duel, removing their upper vestments as if synonymously removing their guarded inhibitions towards each other to symbolize the grand conclusion of the film and play. The film very accurately shows Laertes and Hamlet’s disdain for each other, for as the duel continues, both parties grow more agitated and visibly disgruntled by the others unfaltering assault. This disdain concludes in the film with Laertes falling from a catwalk above the throne room, cast down by Hamlet, defining Hamlet’s fleeting victory of Laertes.
I found the film showed me the amount of anger and emotion that is captured within this final scene of Hamlet, where Claudius aggressively requests for Gertrude to not drink from the poisoned chalice, seen in “Gertrude, do not drink” (Line 267). This instance shows that the same level of emotion that is conveyed in the film is not so easily seen in the play, where Claudius’ line in the script comes off without very much emotion or feeling. This is seen again only a few lines later, where Hamlet states, “Nay, come again” (Line 280)
. The same lack of emotion seen within the play is more accurately portrayed within the film, as Hamlet is shouting at the viewers of his and Laertes’ scuffle to not interfere in the business of the duel, or whatever it had become at that point in time. All in all, Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Hamlet is well worth the four hours, by detailing the play in all of it’s glory, with no shortcuts or “trimming of the fat”, so to speak.