Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 9. Saturday, 12 Jan 1991.
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 91 16:42:31 EST
Subject: Mel Gibson's HAMLET
I saw the movie version of HAMLET just over a week ago and I think it
was worth the $7.50 I shelled out for it. It always interests me to
see Shakespeare transported into different media, and what Zeffirelli
was most successful in doing (this goes for ROMEO AND JULIET also) was
convincing me that the text was written as a movie. All too often I
find Shakespeare boring on the silver screen, specifically Olivier's
HAMLET or the BBC's series, which are no more than recordings of
theatrical productions. Perhaps the larger budget allows for some
"movie magic." In both HAMLET and ROMEO AND JULIET the scenery and
costuming is beautiful. Zeffirelli's films are, if nothing else, a
pleasure to watch.
Aesthetics aside, the movie has a lot going for it. Mel Gibson surprise
me with his skill in the role, bringing the poetry out in the language
but not obtrusively so--Shakespearean English sounded very normal.
And Mr. Gibson was able to bring new perspectives to the role, which
is not easy for this part. The supporting cast (and by that I mean
everyone else) was very good. Alan Bates, as Claudius, was outstanding.
Ophelia was wonderful, giving a convincing transition to lunacy
(something too rare in productions of this play). Die hard
Shakespeareans will be horrified by the amount of text cut (I would
guess about 50%), but it is a movie, and perhaps not all of HAMLET
but some of the more important parts, or some of the parts (No
Fortinbras, no "O what a rogue and peasant slave am I," many parts
shifted (They didn't cut out "To be or not to be")). And some scenes
stand out in my mind as particularly exciting, specifically the Player
scene. All in all a wonderful film of a wonderful play.