Branagh's Hamlet settinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread
Hi Branagh fans and experts of Skakespeare Hamlet we are an Italian school class and we are doing a research on Hamlet We are trying to answer to this question:
"Why did Brangh choose a different historical setting and period from the original Shakespearian play, as is the 19th century(steam train,dresses,ground of the palace, etc)?Who can help us?
-- IV G Class (email@example.com), February 29, 2000
Branagh mentioned that he wanted the setting to be closer to the present so that we (the audience) could relate to the events and yet be far enough in the past so that the way the character's spoke would be believable. He talks about this and a lot more in this interview: http://www.ultranet.com/~luvvy/kcb/kb_inter.htm
-- Virginia (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 29, 2000.
Dear Virginia, thanks a lot for your answer, it was very helpful to us, especially the Branagh interview that gave us a possible answer to our question. Now the class is debating on all the possible answers and we are pleasead to let this interesting forum know them, hoping to have more "answers" too:
Laura and Marta:
We think that K. Branagh, with his work, wanted show that the Shakespeare's play can be realized in every time, because the emotions that Shakespeare wanted to convey with Hamlet are eternal.
Stefania, Rosanna, Angela, Valentina, Maria Grazia, Giuseppe and Biagio:
We think that Branagh has set his film in 19th century because he thinks that the Shakespeare's play is immortal and so it can be set in any age.This tragedy is immortal because it mirrors the reactions of the Man to any problem as: revenge, grief, sorrow,cheat, etc.
Floriana and Francesca:
In our opinion, K. Branagh did choose, as setting, the XIX century because he would show an other important thing of all Shakespeare's plays:the universality and immortality of the human feelings and actions and of the Love, It is comprensible the grief of a son that has lost his father, while his mother married soon after. It is relevant his need of revenge too.
Maria Teresa, Stefania, Davide, Antonella:
Branagh sets the scenes of Hamlet in 19th century because the plots of Shakespeare are immortal and valid in all times:in the past, present and probably in the future,
-- IV G CLASS (email@example.com), March 03, 2000.
BECAUSE HE WANTED TO IT TO SEEM MORE INTERESTING FOR THE VIEWERS AND TO MAKE IT MORE INTERESTING THAN IT WAS ORIGINALLY.
-- KIMBERLY JOHNSON (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 13, 2000.
IT IS COMMON PRACTISE TO STAGE SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS IN MANY DIFFERENT TIMES. THIS HELPS TO ILLUSTRATE THE UNIVERSALTIY OF THE PLAYS AND HOW THEY APPLY TO ANY PERIOD. A RECENT MOVIE OF RICHARD IIIWAS SET IN EURPOE IN TEH 1930s-VERY EFFECTIVE!
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE RICHARD III OR MCBETH DONE IN A "STAR TREK" SETTING. I AM CERTAIN PATRICK STEWART WOULD MAKE AN AMAZING RICHARD III. AN AFRICAN PRESENTATION OF MCBETH WAS DONE USING NATIVE COSTUME, SPEARS AND SHIELDS. WHAT IS INTERESTING IS THAT THE TRIBES NEAR WHERE IT WAS BEING STAGED BELIEVE IN GHOSTS AND DEVILS AND STILL USE SWORDS AND SPEARS TO ASSINATE RIVALS: TALK ABOUT RELATING TO 13 TH CENTURY SCOTLAND.
A RECENT AMERICAM HAMLET MOVIE WAS SET IN 2000 NEW YORK, WITH HAMLET CONSPICUOUSLY DRINKING CARLSBERG BEER.
fIVE CENTURIES FROM NOW SHAKESPEARE WILL BE STAGED USING CONTEMPORARY THEMES,.
-- richard ilomaki (email@example.com), October 08, 2001.
Branagh chose to set his production in the 19th century because the history of this period is more significant and memorable to a contemporary audience than that of the 16th century. Branaghs millenial anxieties about the the British monarchy in the 90's are played out by the crisis and Denmark and associations with the breakdown of the Russian monarchy in the 19th century. Branagh also wanted to suggest the patriarchal constraint of women in the 19th century. Ophelia is portrayed in terms of the periods knowledge of female insanity. Maddness in women was directly associated with a woman's sexual experience.
-- Emma Heapes (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 06, 2002.
I'm sorry, but I take umbrage at that. I reckon they're not teaching the Renaissance enough any more. There's so much about it that's so relevant and significant to our time - as much, at least, as the 19th century.
For example, the Brits actually did chuck out their monarchy in the 17th century, not the 19th. The Protestant Churches were begun in the Renaissance. There were social concerns which still trouble us today such as welfare, and the education and treatment of children. Ideas such as man's ability and right to strive, and achieve and obtain stuff on earth appeared. Centralized government and taxation of large nations became effective for the first time since ancient Rome. Police forces were born. Capitalism was born. Banks were born. Social mobility based on merit and ability as opposed to position through birth was born. Forms of literature, art, music, architecture, sport, weaponry and clothing that we still rely on today were born. Etc.
Shakespeare was born, thank God.
The 19th century reaped the grain that the Renaissance sowed, and we are still doing so now.
I recently put on a production of TWELFTH NIGHT. I set it in the sixteenth century. Even people who hadn't touched Shakespeare with a bargepole since it wa forced on them in school said it was easy to follow and understand, laughed and said it was funny, dynamic, and that it made them want to see more Shakespeare. I hope to do HAMLET next. I'll set it ca. 1800, but not because the Renaissance doesn't work.
Because after all, wherever and whenever you set Shakespeare, it's still his words, and his depiction of people, emotions, relationships, values, religion, ideology, family, society, behaviour, education, war, economy, sex, gender roles, literature and music, food and drink, love and hate, crime and punishment, national and individual identity, language, humour and more.
That's ultimately what we're reading or watching: Shakespeare, all set down before the 23rd of April, 1616, long before the 19th century: it's a product of the Renaissance, and we're watching it because it's significant as such, no matter what dressing we may give it for appearance or 'accessibility'.
-- catherine england (email@example.com), April 06, 2002.
I'm not sure whether or not anyone will be reading this anymore but I thought I'd contribute. I'd like to challenge the universalist approach, sure the setting shows that the story can be successfully transposed to a different time but this is Branagh's adaptation,which is a cultural materialist piece. This means that as he has interpreted it into a setting of roughly 1901 he has trascended the "orignal intent" that traditionalists and universalists are forever harping on about. For example, the flashcut scenes, especially the one with Hamlet and Ophelia having sex, Branagh has overided (excuse pun!) Shakespeare's original ambiguity and therefore usurps the universalist perspective. Also, Branagh's version is the amalgamation of two editions of the script and thereby also moves away from the traditionalist view, as Shakespeare never used this combination in his lifetime. Anyway, I like the film because it's a good story rather than any pseudo- intellectual-snobbery reasons. Shakespeare (or whoever wrote these plays) put together a good story, just enjoy them for what they are; ignore universalism, if you can identify with something in a pleasurable way then relish it, life is too short for, "Who knows in that sleep of death what dreams may come!" P.S. For all you die-hard fans out there who say "that silly old bitch has quoted that line wrong, please, leave the computer, put on your coat and go outside and do something; as I said, life is too short.
-- Jen (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 20, 2003.
Most of Shakespeare's plays are historicised to bring the audience closer to a period it is familiar with. The Victorian period was extremlely religious but at the same time hypocritical with their usage of it. Hamlet personifies philosophically the absurdity of death within war.
-- Elizabeth Hemmings (email@example.com), February 19, 2004.