Various attempts are made to create a modern version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. However, it is also important to retain the original emotional and moral conflicts explored by the author. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation directed by Gregory Doran achieves this goal due to the excellent cast of actors and camera movement. Some of the artistic choices can be questioned. For instance, the film-makers do not show why they decided to produce a modern-dress performance of the tragedy. However, the movie is still worth attention.
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Overall, the director attempts to create a modern-dress production of the tragedy. The male characters are dressed like people who work in the offices of modern corporations. Moreover, Hamlet wears jeans and a T-shirt (Hamlet). In other words, they do not resemble the characters from the medieval castle Elsinore. The text of the play remains relatively unchanged. In this way, the director wants to show that Shakespeare’s play can be placed almost in any context. Moreover, it cannot be restricted to any distinct historical period. To some degree, this approach can be aimed at making the tragedy more appealing to a contemporary audience.
There are several aspects which make this film worth seeing. First of all, one can speak about David Tennant’s representation of Hamlet. This actor was able to portray Hamlet’s struggle to retain his sanity as well as the will to live. While performing to portray the famous soliloquy, he was able to show the protagonist’s inner conflict between the need to forget his misfortunes and the need to live on. He inserts longer pauses into the soliloquy, and they highlight the intensity of emotional and mental struggle within the character (Hamlet). Other actors brilliantly cope with the roles that they play. Among them, one can distinguish Patrick Stewart, who plays Claudius. On the whole, the cast is very convincing. This is one of the main issues that should be considered.
Another aspect that should be considered is the single-camera set up. This approach to cinematography makes the film more authentic because the viewers can detect the movement of characters or their gestures. Moreover, a person can almost sense that he/she is present at the stage where the action takes place. This is one of the main strengths of this adaptation.
There are some limitations that should not be overlooked. The director continuously stresses the modernity of this adaptation. For instance, the viewers’ attention is attracted to the clothes of the main characters or even the use of modern technologies in Elsinore. However, there are no other links to modernity. There are no references to the historical or social context of the play. It is difficult to understand why they did not try to recreate the atmosphere of the medieval Elsinore. This drawback is typical of many modern-dress adaptations (Worthen 65). So, people who want to see a conventional adaptation of the strategy may be slightly disappointed.
Nevertheless, these disadvantages do not undermine the artistic value of this film because it shows that Shakespeare’s characters can fascinate the imagination of the modern audience. Moreover, the movie shows that the moral and existential conflicts examined by the author are still relevant to contemporary viewers who may not be even familiar with the historic period during which this tragedy was written. This is the main argument that can be put forward.
Hamlet. Ex. Prod. Gregory Doran. London: The Royal Shakespeare Company, 2009. Web.
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Worthen, William. Shakespeare and the Authority of Performance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print.