I really must admit that I originally did not want to read Hamlet, but now that Julia Stiles has something to do with it, it certainly has my attention. I really liked the version with her and Ethan Hawke in it and the version with Kenneth Branagh and Kate Winslet. I enjoyed the directing in the Kenneth Branagh version and I thought the colors, costumes, and acting were excellent. However, I thought that the version with Ethan Hawke and Julia Stiles was better. The concept of setting Hamlet in the 21st century is original and easier for the modern audience to relate to.
As far as the settings go for both movies, the version with Ethan Hawke definitely exceeded Kenneth Branagh's version. There is no other setting that I would like to see Hamlet take place in more then 21st century New York City. Being from New York City, I related to the setting personally. I also think people of my generation are more likely to take interest in Hamlet when it is set in a modern society that they can easily relate to. I think a big problem with Shakespeare is that the modern audience finds it hard to relate and maintain interest in a story that uses language and settings that are foreign to them. I thought the modern version of Hamlet let today's generation enjoy the play more. If you would like to see Hamlet in a more classical setting, then I don't think you can beat Kenneth Branagh's version. His version totally contrasted the Ethan Hawke version. The Kenneth Branagh version was very bright, clean and had a lot of pastel colors unlike the modern version where the setting was very dim. I thought that the bright and clean setting made emotions stand out more, especially emotions of madness. There were a lot of mirrors in Branagh's version and there was also a mirror in the modern version. I thought that helped represent the self-reflexivity that appears to be a constant theme in Hamlet. Branagh's version took place in the lobby of a huge palace and did not give you the feeling of being confined at all.