Friday, May 15, 2009

Hamlet 1:5:Kenneth Branagh's video

In Kenneth Branagh’s video of Hamlet’s scene 1 Act 5, Branagh focuses when Hamlet meets his father’s ghost and the truth of his death is revealed. The video of this scene emphasizes the anger prince Hamlet is feeling once he found out his uncle killed his father. With the incorporation of flashbacks, the sound effects, and the setting (dark woods), Branagh gives his viewers a great understanding on the scene and it foreshadows the rest of the play.

A great technique used by Branagh are the flashbacks. These flashbacks allows the viewers to relive the crucial moments of Hamlet’s death. As Hamlet’s ghost is describing the moments of his death, flashbacks are brought up on the screen. In the play by Shakespeare, this scene does not give such details as the video does; instead the Ghost briefly states "The serpent that did sting thy father’s life/Now wears his crown" (Shakespeare 39-40). As the Ghost continues to express his anger, more flashbacks are being incorporated. For example, when the Ghost states "With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous gifts-/O wicked wit and gifts that have the power/ So to seduce!- won to his shameful lust/ The will of my most seeming virtuous queen"(Shakespeare 44-46). These lines, in the video version, are being accompanied with flashbacks of Hamlet’s brother giving the queen "toys" and they happily play. The last flashback is the when Hamlet was murdered by his brother. In the video, the ghost raises his voice as he continues to advance on how he was killed; "And in the porches of my ears did pour…Holds such an enmity with blood of man/ That swift as quicksilver it courses through/ The natural gates and alleys of the body,"(Shakespeare 64-67). The use of flashbacks and the deep voice the Ghost uses, both work together to emphasize the anger the ghost feels towards his cowardly murder.

The sound effects give the scene a frightening feeling. As Hamlet is running through the woods, he is talking and looking around impatiently, repeating a passage from Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 4. Among the lines of that passage, the sounds effects increase starting with these lines "Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blast from hell,/Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,"(Shakespeare 42-43). When Hamlet pronounces "heaven", "hell", "death", "burst their cerements", and among others, the sound effects become louder and impact more the viewers. Hamlet is speaking with such a fast pace, and the effects become more and more noticeable, that the viewer is encounter with a mixture of significant details that make this scene perfect.

The setting also contributes to the formation of this scene. While reading Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Prince Hamlet, this scene is not being portrayed in the woods. The reader would most likely picture this scene perhaps in a tower of a castle (since that is where Hamlet’s soldiers would most likely be guarding). But the dark woods give the scene a more frightening atmosphere, which connects with the appearance of the ghost.

The delivery of lines is an important fact when it comes about replicating someone else’s work. Each character effectively delivers each line with the correct tone, and pauses that create suspense. For example, the ghost highlights the word "Murther": "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murther" (Shakespeare 25) in the video, and as he mentions "murther", a vivid image of his ear with three holes appeared with blood pouring out. The ghost is mostly whispering in this scene, which demonstrates that the ghost is trying to maintain a quiet and secretly conversation with Hamlet. The whispering also creates suspense in the viewers as they patiently await for the next effect to take place.

Branagh ends the act of the ghost with the "Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me"(Shakespeare 91). The ghost vanishes into the air, making it an effective way for a ghost to disappear. Hamlet is now left in the woods, analyzing every detail his father told him, and with anger reflecting on his eyes, the viewers can easily tell that a war is about to break out in Denmark. The video concludes with Hamlet kissing his sword, which symbolizes that he is making a pact with his father to revenge his unnatural death. As he kisses his sword, he mentions "Now to my word:/It is ‘Adieu, adieu! Remember me.’/I have sworn’t" (Shakespeare 110-112). Branagh definitely captures the correct tone and the character delivered the last lines correctly, making the intensity the video increase.

In overall, both characters full achieved Shakespeare’s play. Branagh captured the correct setting, the tone, the effect, and most important, the delivery of lines. The intensity that was needed to deliver the accurate meaning of the scene, was demonstrated by both actors. This video gives a different interpretation of the setting but it fairly adapts to the play. The video version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was well-directed and effectively operated.

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