Gregory Doran's Hamlet: An Equitable Presence On The Film

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Gregory Doran’s Hamlet (2010) is a loyal interpretation of the play, meaning that it respects and adheres to the source material and previous productions, despite its modern setting and cinematic adaptation. It may be easy for some to write off the Doran film as a low-culture take on the Shakespeare play because of its choice of setting and medium. I believe this is not an equitable stance on the film. So by comparing the film with the text and other cinematic productions of Hamlet, such as the films by Franco Zeffirelli (1990), Kenneth Branagh (1996), and Michael Almereyda (2000), the film can be seen as high-culture, such as other performances of Hamlet. The “To be or not to be” soliloquy is widely acknowledged as an important piece of characterization…show more content…
The two colors split him into halves, top and bottom. Red often represents anger, and in Hamlet’s case, his anger towards Claudius and his passion for revenge. Blue often is associated with sadness and hesitation, and for Hamlet this is his reluctance to face death, which would surely come for him if he were to take his revenge. The shot of Hamlet’s entrance into the scene reflects this struggle. The dark jamb of the doorway blocks him so as it seems to be restricting his movement. He must choose to either move back into the darkness from which he entered, or to move towards the light. Instead, he rests there, contemplating which path to take. While he begins his soliloquy, the camera moves to reveal the lighted front side of Hamlet who is coming out of the darkness, which reflects Hamlet’s intention through this soliloquy. He feels that he is given a task to do what is right, symbolized by the light, although at the cost of facing death, symbolized by the dark. Then when the camera shot switches for the remainder of the soliloquy, Hamlet is still blocked by the doorway, but now has his back to the darkness, echoing his decision he is making. By having Hamlet address the audience directly though looking at the camera when he is questioning what action he should take, it gives the audience the impression that Hamlet is serious about finding answers to these…show more content…
As Yvette K. Khoury writes for Literature/ Film Quarterly of the Zeffirelli film, “Even when Gibson’s [whom plays Hamlet] body movement catches the occasional sunray, the iron grid above Hamlet’s head shadows the overhead light; in turn the patter gives the impression of imprisonment in a dark dungeon and reinforces Hamlet’s tormented state of mind” (Khoury 123). This is similar to the way that Doran portrays Hamlet in that both directors create an atmosphere in which the audience is meant to feel that Hamlet is trapped and must find a way out. In the Zeffirelli film, the mise on scené of Hamlet’s surroundings look like a prison, forcing the audience to want Hamlet to break out of the prison. In Doran’s film, the door jamb is blocks the character’s movements, so the audience desires his freedom in this way. Both directors also use light and dark to contrast each other in an effort to mirror the character’s conflicted state. In Zeffirelli’s film, “In addition, the overhead light shining on the hero’s hands reinforces their upcoming usefulness in taking action that is contrasted by the dark void…” (Khoury, 123). The overhead light and the dark void are comparable to the darkness and light on either side of Hamlet in the Doran film. It is also worth mentioning that in the Zeffirelli film, some parts of the text are cut from

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