Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996) is quite literally four hours long. It was nearly impossible for me to get through the movie in one session so I did end up watching the film over several sessions. Personally, my overall impression of the movie was that I found it quite enjoyable. I particularly found the depictions of the characters Ophelia and Hamlet both dramatic and entertaining in equal measure. I can definitely say that I appreciated this adaptation over the Almereyda’s Hamlet (2000) as this one was more historically accurate, the soundtrack was on point, the acting was phenomenal, and the use of flashbacks to uncover the past as we simultaneously move forward in time was immaculate.
In act 5 scene 2, when I first read the lines “…to make true diction of him, his semblance is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more” in the original text (ll.100-101), I interpreted this as a genuine compliment that Hamlet makes about Laertes. However, the film led me to believe otherwise because Branagh delivers these lines very quickly and with a sarcastic tone. This almost creates an impression that what Hamlet said should not be taken too seriously. That being said, I appreciate that the film made me think about this line differently because I found more humour in it.
Overall, I had a great viewing experience and I commend the ways in which the film maintained a balance between keeping with the original text and departing from it.