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Film Overview - Zeffirelli's Hamlet

            Every time a film based on Shakespeare's work is produced, it is common nature to lower your expectations for originality's sake. Not because the film doesn't follow the chronological events of the original, but because there are many aspects of the original that are sacrificed in the name of popularization. Franco Zeffirelli's 1990 version of Hamlet is no exception of this. By tradition, the tragic tale of a royal Dane whose bark is bigger than his bite becomes quite contrary to Zeffirelli's ultimate vision, and any student of Shakespearean works will notice this. However, what Zeffirelli lacks in traditional custom he makes up for in originality and realism. .
             By the time the first act's events are complete in the film, it is easy to notice what Zeffirelli has removed in originality's favour. For example, unlike the hours-long films made before it, the 1990 film removes any unnecessary and time-consuming dialogue that contain no real importance to the progression of the plot. Some may argue that this is a very bold move that shouldn't be taken lightly, and I am inclined to agree. By removing certain dialogue, you run the risk of taking away the film's credibility to be an accurate representation of Shakespeare's work. However, by removing unnecessary dialogue, Zeffirelli makes the play much more accessible and prone to popularity, unlike the long-winded BBC versions and others like it. Another example of Zeffirelli's "slash-n'-hack" approach is the total removal of Fortinbras's character from the film. Now, whether this was done as an effort to save time, budget, or to further another agenda I'm sure I don't know, but there are some advantages to this move. In Shakespeare's original, Fortinbras represents all the aspects of character that Hamlet is not, and by the contrary of the two young royals, the reader can easily see Hamlet's flawed character as less of a "noble hero".

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