- Hamlet (1990 film)
name = Hamlet
caption = Film poster for "Hamlet"
Franco Zeffirelli Christopher De Vore
Mel Gibson Glenn Close Helena Bonham Carter
cinematography = David Watkin
Warner Bros.(North America) Carolco Pictures(internationally)
released = start date|1990|12|19 (limited)
start date|1991|1|18 (wide release)
runtime = 135 min.
language = English
imdb_id = 0099726
"Hamlet" is a 1990
filmbased on the Shakespearean play of the same name. Mel Gibsonhas the title role as the young Prince Hamlet, Glenn Closeplays his mother, Queen Gertrude, Alan Batesplays his uncle, now King Claudius, Paul Scofieldappears as the ghost of Hamlet's Father, Ian Holmplays Polonius, and Helena Bonham Carterplays Ophelia. It was directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It was also the first film from Icon Productions, a company Gibson co-founded.
The cast includes three actors — Scofield, Bates, and Holm — who had themselves played Hamlet on stage or film. It also features two actors -
Stephen Dillaneand Michael Maloney- who went on to play Hamlet onstage.
The movie was nominated for the
Academy Awardsfor Best Art Directionand Best Costume Design. Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, and Dover Castlewere used as locations in the film.
Adaptation and interpretation
Film scholar Deborah Cartmell has suggested that Zeffirelli's Shakespeare films are appealing because they are "sensual rather than cerebral", an approach by which he aims to make Shakespeare "even more popular". [Cartmell, Deborah "Franco Zeffirelli and Shakespeare" in Jackson, Russell (ed.) "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Screen" (Cambridge University Press, 2000) p.212, quoting a Zeffirelli interview given to
The South Bank Showin December 1997.] To this end, he cast the Hollywoodactor Mel Gibson- then famous for the Mad Maxand Lethal Weaponfilms - in the title role. Cartmell also notes that the text is drastically cut, but with the effect of enhancing the roles of the women. [Cartmell, p.215]
J. Lawrence Guntner has suggested that Zeffirelli's cinematography borrows heavily from the
action filmgenre that made Gibson famous, noting that its average shot length is less than six seconds. [Guntner, J. Lawrence: "Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear on film" in Jackson, Russell (ed.) "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film" (Cambridge University Press, 2000) pp.117-123,ass titys pp.121-122] In casting Gibson, the director has been said to have made the star's reputation part of the performance, encouraging the audience "to see the Gibson that they have come to expect from his other films": [Quigley, Daniel "Double Exposure", in "Shakespeare Bulletin" Winter 1993 pp.38-9, cited by Keyishian, Harry "Shakespeare and Movie Genre: The Case of Hamlet" in Jackson, Russell (ed.) "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film" (Cambridge University Press, 2000) p.77] Indeed, Gibson was cast after Zeffirelli watched his character contemplate suicide in the first Lethal Weaponfilm. [Keyishian, pp.72-81] The fight between Hamlet and Laertes is an example of using Gibson's experience in action movies. The whole fight depicts Hamlet not as the dark and brooding character that he is, but as a cocky fighter much like many of Gibson's previous roles. Harry Keyishian has suggested that "Hamlet" is well suited to this treatment, as it provides occasions for "enjoyable violence". [Keyishian, p.77]
J. Lawrence Guntner has written that the casting of Glenn Close as Mel Gibson's mother (only nine years older than him, in life, and then famous as the psychotic "other woman" in "
Fatal Attraction") highlights the incest theme, leaving "little to our post-Freudian imagination" [Guntner, pp.121-122] and Deborah Cartmell notes that Close and Gibson simulate sex in the closet scene, and "she dies after sexually suggestive jerking movements, with Hamlet positioned on top of her, his face covered with sweat". [Cartmell, p.215]
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