Film Diary – Act 5 Scene 2 (Jasmine Koonar)

While watching Branagh’s film “Hamlet,” I found the overall film to be quite enjoyable. There were many scenes that caused me to see Shakespeare’s script in a new light. Throughout this course, I have become more and more impressed with Kenneth Branagh’s work involving Shakespeare. It has definitely sprung an interest for me in his work, and I will probably continue to explore more of Kenneth Branagh’s career after the course ends.

In the film, Kate Winslet’s portrayal of Ophelia is one of a chilling and disturbing performance. Her slow decline throughout the movie was very obvious. In some of her final scenes when she is strapped in a straight jacket, it really dramatizes Ophelia’s insanity unlike in the play. Ophelia’s skin is very pale and her voice trembles, her portrayal still sends shivers down my spine.

If we analyze Act 5 Scene 2 in the film, we may see some distinctions in how the movie chose to interpret the play. I found that the play was quite blunt when the king dies. That one moment the Queen is dead then suddenly Hamlet is killing the king. However in the film, the scene is quite dramatic with many things going on at once to catch the audience’s attention. As Hamlet states “Then, venom, to thy work!” (5.2.296), He throws the sword from across the room to hit the King, then swings the chandelier onto him to trap him. This was almost humourous in how unrealistic his aim would be. Very dramatic. Very unrealistic in my opinion. Altogether, Branagh’s performance was once again magnificent and I will be looking forward to the next Branagh film to watch in the near future.



Notes Reflection

I will be reviewing my notes when analyzing the text entitled Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Zeffirelli’s film Hamlet from 1990. When analyzing the notes taken in comparison to watching a film and reading a play, there are many differences in the details that I take in. When reading a play, the reader usually takes notes regarding the style of language, the diction used, or the flow of sentences. We use our imagination to dictate our emotions towards the play, and there was much room to create a story to fill in the blanks of what is missing. Such as the appearances of the characters, the tone of voice used, the set design, and the expressions of the characters’ faces. However when watching a film, we are told the story and shown the dialogue in a fixed manner. Instead of us having to create the scene in our minds, we are shown it. This may give the reader a better understanding of how the script may be interpreted. Along with this, the reader tends to take notes revolving around subjects other than the script, such as music, editing, camera angles, tone of voice, or costumes of the characters.


I found when analyzing the film Hamlet by Zeffirelli, my notes revolved around many different factors. I made points regarding how there is an extensive use of bird’s eye view in the film. For example, at the end of the film, the camera slowly goes up to show a wider view of the surroundings as Hamlet dies. This may give the viewer a greater perspective of those watching Hamlet, as well as demonstrate the devastation of the scene as many die around them. However in the play, the final scene contains more words said then in the film. What I noted in my margins was more the play on words, such as “flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” (5.2.334) which demonstrates the heavenly beings that will watch over Hamlet and help him to be at peace in the afterlife. In reading the play, there is more space to assemble the tone of the characters. I noted that I felt it was difficult for me to follow along with what was happening in the plot. With the help of music and body language, the 1990 film was much easier to follow. In the play, I also noted many examples of symbolism and metaphors or similes that were not demonstrated in the film Hamlet. The use of emphasis on language may change the way the reader, such as myself, interprets the text and this surely occurred in my situation. In the play, I found many small details that I took note on that aided with a visual perception of the scene as well as emotion.



When we are given the freedom to imagine the scene when reading a text, it allows us to be more subjective about the play. However in the film, we are given an objective view of an interpretation of that text. We as the viewer do not have control over how the text is manifested when watching a film. I believe that when reading the text, this gives us a sense of freedom of exploring the creative, imaginative side in all of us to subjectively analyze the text. Therefore, my notes when comparing those to a play and a film are very different. In my notes regarding the play, there is more analysis involving the meaning of words and diction, as well as summarizing my idea of what is occurring in the play. When reviewing my notes in the film, it mainly focuses on the direction of the film, not as much on the actual script. There is no better or worse type of notes in my opinion because each set offers something different to how I may later look back on them. I will gain different ideas from either notes because they each give me a better understanding of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Therefore there is no pair that is more successful because they each offer a component to my understanding of Shakespeare.

After reviewing my notes, I may find that each are different in their style and interpretation of Shakespeare, yet both are equally important to my learning experience. I may say that my notes on the film were of a greater success because it was easier to find more detail in the film compared to the play. This is due to the visual aspects involved in film because I find that I absorb the visual components of learning easier than that of text. Therefore, I found more to write about on the film compared to the play. When analyzing my annotative practices, I believe that I have a solid foundation on how to take notes when analyzing the play and movie of Hamlet, yet I will continue to try to improve my skills by striving to decipher the lines more deeply in Shakespeare.

Scene Comparison – Zeffirelli’s Hamlet (1990) and Almereyda’s Hamlet (2000)

I will be analyzing the following two scenes from Zeffirelli’s 1990 version ( and Almereyda’s 2000 version ( of Hamlet. In Act 1 Scene 5 of Hamlet, Hamlet’s father comes back as a ghost asking him to take revenge on Hamlet’s uncle who killed his father and took the crown. The 1990 version uses a traditional approach to Shakespeare as it is based in Elizabethan times and the 2000 version is a modern replica of Hamlet. The two scenes from either films both convey different moods that are established through emotion and conviction of the actors and the set used in each scene. When analyzing these separately, we may reveal different tools that each director used to create the proper atmosphere.

When analyzing the acting of the characters in each film, there is a tremendous contrast. In Hamlet’s 2000 version, the actor of the ghost has an intimidating and serious persona, which is demonstrated through the character aggressively grabbing at Hamlet with a constant serious face and speaking very quickly. The ghost seems more evil and angry about his situation. The character of Hamlet in the 2000 version has a frightened and confused expression throughout the scene, conveying how stunned Hamlet is that his father’s ghost is before him. I find that Ethan Hawke’s portrayal of Hamlet is very poor and lacking emotion, as presented in the review, When analyzing the acting in Hamlet’s 1990 version, the ghost speaks using many dramatic pauses, to create suspense and anticipation for the audience. This may be demonstrated when he exclaims “List, list, O, list!” with a shocking cry, compared to Almereyda’s version where it is simply said quickly. In the 1990 version, the ghost expresses feelings of sadness and betrayal through a few tears shed and a trembling voice. I found the ghost in the 1990 version to be a comforting and loving presence compared to the ghost in the 2000 version. I believe that this enhanced the plot because it is more believable for the father to be of a comforting figure than that of intimidation. The acting of Hamlet in the 1990 version was very well portrayed through the use of a frightened expression and expressing bewilderment of his father’s presence.

At the end of the scene in the 1990 version, the ghost reaches out to Hamlet stating “remember me” but then disappears suddenly before they touch, compared to an embrace in the 2000 version. I found the embrace confusing as it did not match the ghost’s previous showing of intimidation towards Hamlet, as well it does not make sense for a ghost to be able to touch a human. In the 1990 version, the ghost says these lines with a trembling voice and shedding tears, creating a somber mood and showing the strength of the father-son bond. In the 2000 version, the lines are accompanied by a strong embrace, which also conveys a strong father to son bond. However, there is less emotion in the ghost’s voice, which may demonstrate the ghost holding more power and control over Hamlet.

The 1990 version is set surrounding stonewalls at night, which creates a dark and creepy mood, as well as demonstrating a sense of isolation from the outside world. The noises of rustling wind and sinister music helps to establish the mood. In the 2000 version, the scene is set in a modern messy apartment which demonstrates that the meet is private, as well as the mood is more chaotic and frantic due to the mess surrounding them. The melancholy music in the background of a violin creates a depressing mood.

Both film scenes use the same text and both cut out a few lines from the original Shakespeare text. However, the 2000 version of Hamlet uses more of the original text and is able to squeeze in more lines due to the rapid talking pace. The 2000 version of Hamlet also uses an interesting camera affect of circling the camera around the actors as they are speaking. This helps to give the audience a perspective of the characters’ body language, as well as placing the audience viscerally immersed into the scene. The 1990 version uses up close shots of the characters’ faces, which gives the audience a sound idea of the emotions portrayed through facial expressions. This shifts the meaning of the scene by putting more emphasis on the characters’ emotions in the 1990s version, versus putting emphasis on the surroundings and actions of the characters in the 2000s version.

When comparing the following two scenes in the movie of Hamlet in 2000 and 1990, we may view that both the scenes have a contrasting mood. The 1990s version creates a comforting and heartbreaking mood through the use of teary actors and dark lighting. However, the 2000 version is a more chilling and grim take to Shakespeare’s scene through a shifting acting style. Although both scenes convey Shakespeare’s work in coinciding ways, I find the scene in Zeffirelli’s 1990 version to be more compelling and pathos driven.