Mel’s Hamlet

I just finished watching Zefferelli’s Hamlet with Mel Gibson in the title role.  It’s actually pretty impressive. The script editors have taken great liberties with the text, not only cutting large chunks, but putting some speeches in other scenes to move things along and make it all more intelligible. I don’t have a problem with this. It works well, and the overall effect helps drive the story along and increase the dramatic tension.

The whole cast is excellent, but Glenn Close’s Gertrude and Helena Bonham Carter’s Ophelia are especially fine. You can see her madness there from the beginning in her gaunt and haunted look. Zefferelli’s direction and cinematography never intrude and always contribute to the whole effect of the play. This shows Branagh’s film in a bad light because, while it is sumptious and wonderful to look at, you end up saying, “Gosh, the costumes! the sets! the filming! How terrific!” and while it is fun to enjoy all that, if they distract from the inner drama of the play itself it is second rate.
Most of all, Mel Gibson’s Hamlet is excellent. He is a strong, purposeful Hamlet, yet the motivation for his madness and indecision is believable and moving. I wonder if Catholic Gibson and Catholic Zefferelli knew of the ‘Shakespeare was a secret Catholic’ theories, and understood the Catholic subtext of the play….
Now if only I had thought to ask Mel that question the time we had dinner…
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  • I’m not sure I know the catholic subtext of the play.

  • Look to the brevity of the funeral for one. Methinks the ceremony was a tad scant, for what rites are due those with deaths of such questionable circumstances? Sigh…..on the Bard can write like the Bard.

  • I’ve always regarded Gibson’s Hamlet as the best.

  • +JMJ+I took this up in uni the year The Passion of the Christ came out. My classmates seemed to think that Mel Gibson was some sort of weirdo. When our professor screened scenes from this adaptation for us, I was probably the only one not laughing.