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Hamlet-The Play February 12, 2015 12:00 AM | Tagged as Hamlet, Kenneth Branagh, Mel Gibson, Ophelia, play charms, Shakespeare, Silver Charms, Yorick

~~I have had a “love/hate” relationship with this play.  I didn’t enjoy reading and studying it in school because it was boring, but that goes back to my old argument that these plays were to be seen not read.  BUT, because I didn’t like it due to reading it, I never wanted to see it performed.  That all changed with Mel Gibson’s movie version of Hamlet (1990).  I admit I was curious and went to this movie for two reasons only, first; Mel Gibson, and second, because it was Shakespeare.  I had seen Laurence Olivier’s movie and didn’t really like it too much.  So I was skeptical about this new version because I knew the words would be the same. 
I had seen 2 other Shakespeare movies Franco Zeffirelli had done, Romeo and Juliet (1968), which I didn’t like. But that’s because it’s Romeo and Juliet.  I just don’t like that play and all.  The other Zeffirelli I had seen was The Taming of the Shrew (1969) with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  I saw this as a young teen and loved it so much that I knew my first daughter would be named after Katherine, and she was.  So I figured I had a 50/50 chance of liking the new version of Hamlet.
I was happy to find that I loved the movie Hamlet so much that I am now a fan of the play, which constantly surprises friends who know that I only like happy endings in ALL my entertainment, ie. books, plays and movies.  The cast was strong and this version was followed up a few years later by Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 version which, I feel, was even better but some felt it was too long.
Now back to the play, since, “the play’s the thing”.  Hamlet comes home from abroad to find his father dead and his mother remarried to his uncle.  His mourning is sincere and deep. After a visitation from his father’s ghost, who informs Hamlet he had been murdered by his own brother, now the new husband of Gertrude, Hamlet now has an avenue to vent his sorrow into revenge.  But his revenge not only ruins his uncle, but everyone around him, including Hamlet himself.  Kind of sad and depressing so I don’t know why I enjoy this play so much now.  But it does have great lines and lessons to learn from it. 
For example, Revenge is never good.  It eats at you and it is better to just move on.  If Hamlet had instead tried to get justice for his father’s murder instead of revenge there would have been fewer deaths in the end.  Another topic debated in it is suicide.  In Hamlets “To be or not to be” soliloquy, he debates whether it would be better to die or to live and see the events through.  What ruined him, in my opinion, was how he handled the events, NOT the events themselves.  Also; there is the lesson of Ophelia.  Ladies, don’t be used and manipulated by others.  Hamlet didn’t treat her well, her father, Polonius, Gertrude and the new king all used her to get to Hamlet, and because she wasn’t strong and independent, it drove her mad and killed her in the end. 
I do love the friendship between Horatio and Hamlet.  Horatio tried to be a support to Hamlet and stuck with him to the end. But I also feel a good friend could have helped dissuade him from the destructive path he was heading down. 
In the end, the “play’s the thing” and it is a great play.  Again, I IMPLORE parents, if your child is going to be studying this play in school, PLEASE let them see a stage performance or movie version of the play first!  It will make the studying of it so much easier and enjoyable. 


Posted in Hamlet, Play charms, William Shakespeare | 0 Replies