Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Various Hamlets

In preparation for my course on Hamlet, I have studied various versions over the past few days. Of course my favourite Hamlet will always be Toby Stephens at the RSC in 2004, but I thought I'd try a few alternatives.

First of all, I watched Mel Gibson's version of the Dane from the 1990 Franco Zeffirelli film version. Hamlet struck me as a little too old, against a too young Gertrude (Glenn Close) and a very young-looking Ophelia played by Helena Bonham Carter in her usual dotty way. Lots of costumes, lots of sweeping outside shots, but overall I wasn't convinced enough to keep my attention fixed on the screen rather than on other stuff that needed doing.

Next up was David Tennant's version from the 2009 BBC version directed by Gregory Doran. This was a modern-dress production, which did fun things with CCTV footage at the scene changes. Although Tennant and Gibson were around the same age at the time of performance, I found Tennant to make a convincingly younger Hamlet, although Mariah Gale's Ophelia seemed far too young for him. Penny Downie's Ophelia was just about old enough to be Hamlet's mother (unlike in the 1990 version!) and I liked the dual casting of Patrick Stewart as both Claudius and the Ghost. I'm less sure about whether I was convinced by the fight scene though.

Finally, or rather first thing this morning, I read the manga version. Set in 2107, this one worked best out of the three for me, and I only had to flick back to the front pages a couple of times to remind myself of who the characters were. Quite a cut-down rendering, but it captured all the essentials of the story.

All in all, this quick gallop through the three very different versions of the play was a great reminder of what's great about it, as well as emphasising yet again that Shakespeare can be easily translated to a variety of eras and settings.
Tags: films, graphic novels, inspiration, on the internet, real life, summer of shakespeare, winning at life
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