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Zeffirelli and Branagh - Hamlet

            Many novels and plays have screen adaptations of them. In the process of being made into a film, many works of literature may be changed according to the interpretations of directors, actors and audience. Shakespeare's plays are always open to interpretation; this is seen clearly through several movie versions of his famous play Hamlet. In Franco Zeffirelli's 1991 and Kenneth Branagh's 1996 film version of "Hamlet," we can see that the portrayal of the ghost of Hamlet's late father was different in each version. Branagh views the ghost as a fearful and vengeful entity, but Zeffirelli presented the ghost as a placid and sorrowful being seeking retribution. Using sound elements; the director's adherence to the original text; physical elements, including the use of props, costumes and setting; camera choices, the way that the ghost is presented in the scenes creates a significant contrast in the facade of the ghost and Hamlet's opinion of the ghastly and threatening figure before him in each film.
             In Branagh's film, the first ghost scene was dramatic and loud with music to add to all the suspensefulness, where areas the Zeffirelli version was a bit more believable and less dramatic and calmer. The ghost that actually played was also different during each of the scenes. In the Branagh version was speaking quickly and loud voice, while in the Zeffirelli version the ghost was calmer when speaking to Hamlet. In Branagh's version of Hamlet, the ghost is portrayed as a feared figure that instigates fear in Hamlet and is the main driver for Hamlet to avenge his father's death. The ghost stands tall and high above Hamlet in order to instill fear in him. In addition to its frightful demeanor, the ghost's sky blue eyes and pale skin as well as his battle armor conveys a passion for revenge. However, in Zeffirelli's version, the ghost is portrayed as being weak and more human-like. The ghost's sitting position implies that it means no harm.

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