McCombe agrees, observing that Zeffirelli's film "links Hamlet's hesitancy to his unnaturally strong bond with his mother" (McCombe). Crowl believes that Gertrude is at the center of the film, or "at the center of Hamlet's fractured consciousness, rather than the ghost or Claudius. The film is much more about sons and mothers than fathers and uncles" (Crowl). While this may be true, we should also consider how this interpretation is much more emotional this way. Hamlet's troubles are predominantly linked to his mother in one way or another. Zeffirelli captures the complexities of this relationship by making it complicated and a sensitive issue for Hamlet in the long run. In the final scene of the film, we see the depth of the emotions Hamlet feels for his mother. Ophelia is another woman that allows us to see the extremity of Hamlet's emotion. She is beautiful and seems quite innocent. When Hamlet exclaims, "Get thee to a nunnery" (Hamlet), we see emotion from both characters that is stunning and very convincing. The scene with Ophelia and the flowers is realistic and it allows us to feel what she is feeling. From the beginning of the play, the man is torn and he never finds peace. He is removed from everyone else and to accentuate this, Zeffirelli situates Hamlet in lofty places. For example, at one point Hamlet emerges on a catwalk over the courtyard where he can hear the conversation below him but he is not a part of it. In Polonius' library, he is draped from the top shelves. When he feigns madness, he jumps on the top of a table. These scenes demonstrate Zeffirelli's attempt to make Hamlet appear misplaced in the physical world because he is so disjointed in the emotional realm.
While Zeffirelli's interpretation of the film has been criticized from excluding certain important and relevant scenes from the original play, it can also be said that those exclusions allow us to focus on the "meat" of the play, which is Hamlet and his emotions. The play does not drag on monotonously and we do not feel as though we have missed anything if we judge the film on its own merit. While McCombe maintains that Zeffirelli's "editing choices focus our attention upon Hamlet and away from the supporting characters" (McCombe), it could also be construed that Zeffirelli deliberately left certain scene out of the play to make the audience focus more on Hamlet the man rather than Hamlet the statesman. There can be no question that this does not follow Shakespeare's intention but it does follow Zeffirelli's attempt to make Hamlet seem real to us by allowing us to see him as much as possible with no extraneous scenes that might clutter our observation. Zeffirelli's Hamlet is alone in the ...
Franco Zeffirelli's interpretation of Hamlet is one that establishes the emotional volatility of the entire play. Never in the play do we find a moment of peace or relaxation; instead, we find a man that is emotional distraught for one reason or another. Hamlet's emotional state deteriorates as the play progresses and Zeffirelli follows this prescription well, presenting us with a man that never truly finds the solace or the answers he needs. Even in death, Hamlet appears to be an emotional wreck. Zeffirelli captures the delicate and fragile emotional landscape of Hamlet in this interpretation because he does not allow the setting to become cluttered with objects and costumes that are not necessary. Hamlet is an emotional play and without its emotional, the plot would not move. Zeffirelli establishes this fact early in the film and continues this theme until its final moments.
John P. McCombe. "Toward an Objective Correlative: The Problem of Desire in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet." Literature/Film Quarterly. 1997. Gale Resource Database. Site December 02, 2008. http://www.infotrac.galegroup.com
Crowl, Samuel. "Zeffirelli's Hamlet: The Golden Girl and a Fistful of Dust." Shakespeare in the Cinema. 1998. Gale Resource Database. Site Accessed December 02, 2008. http://www.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Hamlet. Dir. Franco Zeffirelli. Mel Gibson and Glen Close. Warner Brothers, 1990.
Bloom, Harold. Hamlet: Poem Unlimited. New York: Riverhead Books. 2003.
From the beginning of the play, the man is torn and he never finds peace. He is removed from everyone else and to accentuate this, Zeffirelli situates Hamlet in lofty places. For example, at one point Hamlet emerges on a catwalk over the courtyard where he can hear the conversation below him but he is not a part of it. In Polonius' library, he is draped from the top shelves. When he feigns madness, he jumps on the top of a table. These scenes demonstrate Zeffirelli's attempt to make Hamlet appear misplaced in the physical world because he is so disjointed in the emotional realm.
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