The works of William Shakespeare have been widely studied through various types of media. Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, has been adapted for film multiple times with many different interpretations. Adaptation of a literary work for film creates a unique version of the original work due to the director’s vision for the film, production restrictions, screenwriting, and many other factors.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet opens with guards exchanging watch over the royal castle of Denmark at Elsinore. The guards express unrest over seeing an apparition during their watch. They bring a witness, Horatio, who identifies this ghost as the late King of Denmark. Branagh’s Hamlet, although set in the Victorian Era, follows Shakespeare’s original work very closely. The actor’s lines are almost identical to original. The opening scene is the same as the play, but use of special effects and lighting set a much more frightening interpretation. Zeffirelli uses a completely different opening scene. The main actors are immediately introduced through funeral proceedings for the late king and the scene with the guards and ghost has been omitted.
Zeffirelli continues to use a different interpretation of Shakespeare’s work with changes in Act 2 Scene 1. Hamlet comes to Ophelia in her sewing room looking disheveled and acting strangely. He is believed to have gone mad with love because Ophelia, under her father’s command, has been rejecting Hamlet’s advances.