And while I am on the topic, I think that Zefirrelli's JESUS OF NAZARETH is the finest depiction of the life of Christ on film. When I saw Olivia Hussey play Juliet, I knew that the only role greater than that one for her was the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And lo and behold!
Hamletis one of Shakespeare's most provocative plays and its young prince who hesitates to avenge his father's death is one of his most complex characters. Hamlets agile wit, mercurial moods and contemplative nature pose a challenge for any actor and Branagh delivers an impressive if not passionate performance. It's an elegantly reserved interpretation that sporadically erupts into emotion. But it's too restrained and somber to convey Hamlets full gamut of emotions. Only on occasion does Branagh capture the characters quicksilver mood changes and his potential for playfulness.
Hamlet: "My wit's diseased..."
Branagh has decided to bringHamletto the screen with the text uncut. This places familiar scenes in a new context and allows the play to develop its themes more fully. Now Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras truly offer a contrast of personalities as we see how each deals with notions of revenge, honor, duty and love.
Yet the film's weakness is its lack of fire. No matter what you thought of Franco Zefirrelli'sHamlet, Baz Luhrmann's recentRomeo + Julietor Al Pacino's, you never doubted the passionate drive of these filmmakers to say something new about Shakespeare. But Branagh's film possesses an artistic restraint that fails to stir passions. He seems to be making this film as if it were an obligatory rite of passage. It's self-consciously epic and fails to see the intimate drama that's going on as well. Hamlet's interior battle seems lost in Branagh's 70mm vista. The main set of the mirrored state hall typifies some of the film's problems. The hall's enormity keeps us at a distance and it's so evenly lit, so symmetrically designed and so pristine that it seems artificial.
In the end, though, Branagh's Hamlet is an admirable endeavor. Despite its four-hour length it moves at a good pace and showcases a diverse cast. But it remains somewhat disappointing because it lacks the brash energy that made Branagh's two earlier film encounters with the Bard so riveting.
Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1 [They Fight.] Spoiler Alert: Mercutio Dies Let's watch the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio in Zefirrelli's film and see how the director and actors use characterization in a fight scene. Now the Fun Part We are going to learn some basic stage fighting,