Throughout different contexts, perspectives change. With these changing perspectives, composers collaborate with one another in order to attain a heightened understanding of the context. The enduring quality of Hamlet arises from its textual integrity, and its exploration of universal themes relating to the human condition. As such, the cohesive nature of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1601) is enhanced through Gregory Doran’s’ film interpretation Hamlet BBC (2009). An analysis of this contemporary production elucidates the concepts from the original play, exploring the deceptive facades of the protagonist and antagonist.
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Further we can observe the inter-play of duty on identity and judge the notions of mortality in order to realise the fragility of life. Both texts remain relevant in relating with the modern audience and more specifically, the symbolisation of the ‘mouse trap. ’ The notion of verisimilitude, which is chronic to humanity is exemplified in Shakespeare’s revenge tragedy Hamlet through the characters of Hamlet and Claudius. Noblemen such as King Hamlet were seen as individuals chosen by God; therefore Claudius’ fratricide against King Hamlet was seen as a supremely sinful deed in that context.
The serious nature of his crime necessitated his facade. The use of first-person collective and plosives in ‘Our dear brothers’ death… and our whole kingdom be contracted in one brow of woe’ (1. 2. 1-4) emphasizes Claudius’ overwrought attention in maintaining his ‘honest’ and ‘honourable’ image. The notion of illusion against reality is further emphasised in the paradox of ‘that we wisest think on him… With one auspicious and one dropping eye’ which conveys Claudius’s insincerity and reflects man’s deceptive capabilities.
Hamlet’s feigning of an ‘antic disposition’ symbolises his deceit in hiding his renaissance ideologies. Hamlet’s aphoristic statement “that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain”, after hearing of Claudius’s murderous act, evokes the central concern of the play in which the line between masquerade and authenticity is blurred. Doran’s interpretation of Hamlet also deepens the contemporary audiences’ understanding of the difficulty in distinguishing between truth and illusions.
In our post-modernist humanist society the film portrays Claudius as a multifaceted individual. Over the progressive passing of time, there has been a lowering of standard and apprehension towards the royal families of today; hence Doran’s Hamlet (2009) interprets Claudius as the victim in the after –math of King Hamlets’ murder, rather than Hamlet. This is evident in the use of chiaroscuro and ominous, non-diegetic music in the background as Claudius presents his soliloquy ‘Oh my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;’, which portrays him as exposed and helpless.
This is juxtaposed with Hamlet in the darkness, portraying him as sinister and secretive. The additional quirky facial expression on Hamlet captured by a POV shot during the ‘mouse trap’ scene is presented to heighten this discreet, dark atmosphere on Hamlet. Hamlet’s sustainment of his overzealous, insane actions during his soliloquy emphasizes the directors’ interpretations on Hamlet being mad in reality. Therefore, the tenuous nature of truth allows us to question mankind’s nature and how appearances can easily interfere with our perception of reality.
Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, through the characterisation of its protagonist, examines the justifiability of the universal notion of revenge. Hamlet faces an internal conflict to seek revenge against Claudius due to the conflicting notions of chivalric vengeance and the Renaissance ideal of divine retribution. The torment of the protagonist is conveyed in the soliloquy “O that this too too solid flesh would melt”, which depicts his deep anguish in fulfilling his fate as the avenger. (Do you have any ideas for contextual info? Shakespeare’s Hamlet indicates that rather Hamlet desiring to seek revenge for his father, he was merely forced into the action. The use of metaphor accompanied with war imagery ‘suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune… To die, to sleep… Ay, there’s the rub’ are used to highlight Hamlet’s conflicting dilemmas on suicide and spirituality. Hamlet’s contemplation of suicide emphasizes that the pressure of his duties laid down by the ghost has ultimately acted as a catalyst in initiating his down-fall.
This can be concluded that Hamlets’ fate has been pre-determined, caused by a series of chain of events linked to the time period when King Hamlet was alive. This emphasizes the delicate, yet complicated structure of mortality how one course of action can dramatically change one individuals’ life. Hamlets’ contemplation in regards to his spiritual morality reflects and relates to the general dilemma of modern society, further proving that Hamlet remains relevant in society regardless of time. The use of personification ‘The undiscovered country… puzzles the will… thus conscience does make cowards of us all’ (3. . 79-83) foreshadows Hamlets’ existential conscience preventing him from taking revenge on Claudius quick enough. Contrastingly, Doran’s adaptation portrays Hamlet as an incompetent and demotivated individual in regards to his duties and identity. This emulates the ill-attentive, careless nature of the contemporary society of today. The use of comical non-diegetic sound and a slanted crown on Hamlets’ head portrays him as care-free and ignorant of the situation he is in. Contrastingly, a more serious side of Hamlet is shown during the scene of Claudius’ soliloquy.
Hamlets’ grim facial features in the darkness compared to Claudius under the light emphasizes Hamlet as being very sincere in regards to the revenge of Claudius. This is very puzzling as the directors’ overall interpretation of Hamlet differs from the serious nature of him in this scene. Through the director’s adaptation, this can be concluded as Hamlets’ inconsistency also shown throughout the course of the play. The concepts of revenge and retribution are seen strongly through Hamlets’ ponder on existentialism and the futile depth of his revenge.
The use of allusion and repetition of Alexander the Great ‘Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to dust’ emphasizes that it is pointless in achieving for great things if in the end; we all are reduced to dust. This further reflects the care-free attitudes of the individuals in the modern society. Doran’s adaptation of Hamlet is a model exemplar of this concept by viewing revenge as a thrill-seeker in the eyes of Hamlet. Doran portrays Hamlet as very lively and excited during the scene of the ‘mouse trap’ displaying him as taking the whole situation as a game he must win through his facial features. Any other ideas? Ran out) This is assumed that it has been deliberately done by the director in order to contrast from the mundane lives of the contemporary society. In conclusion, the fluid nature of the universally coherent themes within Hamlet remains relevant in society regardless of time. Individuals obtain a heightened understanding of this play through the collaboration of unique ideas. Doran additionally further highlights Hamlet’s sinister image through the absence of light on Hamlets’ face during the scene of Claudius’ soliloquy.