Commonly known as Shakespeare's best, Hamlet is one of the most famous plays of all time. From the spine-chilling ghost scenes to the astonishing sword fights, on the edge of the chair, you stay while enjoying Hamlet. Shakespeare's Hamlet has appeared on film since the year 1900 when Clement Maurice directed Le Duel d' Hamlet a silent picture. Ironically, in this film a woman played Hamlet. The play originally appeared in text between 1958 and 1601, when Shakespeare had put the pen to the paper. Over time, Hamlet has transpired to film a numerous amount of times. Once in 1948 staring Laurence Olivier as Hamlet. This film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Another version was filmed in 1969 with Nicol Williamson as Hamlet and Anthony Hopkins as the heinous Claudius. The modern Franco Zeffirelli version was produced in 1990 starring Mel Gibson as the honorable Hamlet. A spin off version of Hamlet was also filmed in1990 called Rosencantz and Guildentern are Dead. In 1992, Hamlet was even animated explaining just the basics of the play. In 1996, Kenneth Branagh directed and starred as Hamlet. Most recently filmed in 2000, a modern version of Hamlet, starring Ethan Hawke. The four versions I was so privileged to study were Zeffirelli, Stoppard, Branagh, and the original text. These four productions appear to be the same play but yet are quite different.
The plot of each of these stage shows are base around one story line, on the contrary each version has its own twists and turns though out the dramatic piece. Franco Zeffirelli's film is considerably different from the original text. For instance, he added the funeral scene at the beginning. Zeffirelli also decided to cut most long speeches down, rearrange scenes or parts of scenes and sporadically impart one character's lines to another. He made these changes to build up the action and shorten the plot. As you watch the film, you become aware that this production is much easier to follow than others.