Branagh’s Film

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Branagh sets his film in what appears to be the 19th century, not the 16th or 17th (when it was written) nor the 9th (whence the legend originally dates). Why? What are the advantages of the setting as Branagh conceives it?

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This is clearly a film, not merely a filmed play. At many points, Branagh chooses to present the material in a way that would be impossible to achieve on stage in a theatre. Explain how Branagh films in a way that takes advantage of the cinematic medium by examining scenes from the movie.

Branagh uses actors who were famous but not known as Shakespearean actors for many of the roles. These include Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston, Gerard Depardieu, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams. (English audiences would have recognized some others, too.) Which ones do you think work well? Best? Which, if any, do you think do not work?

Hamlet is an extremely complicated character, and almost as many ways exist to play him as actors who have done so. What about Branagh’s performance and interpretation of the character do you like? What do you think he could have been done better?

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