The new and old movies of Hamlet were very different from the play, as well as each other. They both held different views and emotions for key points of the original play as well as a different way of expressing these feelings. The older movie was set in a fitting time for Hamlet, where Kings and Queens ruled all and technology was still primitive. The newer movie is set in modern day times and with nearly the same text as the original play. But whether it is Mel Gibson or Ethen Hawke who stars in the movie, essentially, it is still Hamlet.
Let us start off with the main character. Mel Gibson vs. Ethen Hawke. Of the two, I personally preferred Mel's performance. He gave the appearance that Hamlet was a young man (despite the age of the actor) who had no real problems in life until Claudius made everything go awry. Gibson said every phrase with suiting emphasis and expression, making his feelings believable. Ethen, on the other hand, I thought to be very disappointing. His acting was at best weak in my opinion. He always had the same stupid look on his face, like he hit his head a little too hard falling out of a tree as a child. As if that was not enough, there was no weight to what he said, it was all said too lightly and left me yawning. I personally think Mel Gibson is a better actor in all cases, but Ethen was just disappointing, that is all I can really say.
What do you think about when somebody mentions Hamlet? Probably a castle, surrounded by trees and grass, a brook here or there, with immense emotional distraught among the royalty and friends. This only comes through in one of the movies, while the other places all the dialogue in modern places, such as Blockbuster. I thought of this as somewhat amusing, re-enacting a play in a movie store, but maybe that was intended. The newer movie set in modern times totally destroys the mood and feeling of the movie and makes it unbearable to watch, almost painful.