Thursday, March 6, 2008

Act 3 Scene 1 Hamlet's Soliloquy (Kenneth Branagh)

24 comments:

Brian A. 6 said...
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Brian A. 6 said...

Out of all three videos that are on the blog, Kenneth Branagh’s version best captures Hamlet’s soliloquy and emphasizes the protagonist’s thoughts and emotions. Through out the video Hamlet approaches a mirror perhaps to take a deeper look into himself, to take a look into his soul, and conscience.

“ To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer; The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; or to take arms against a sea of troubles; And by opposing, end them.” ( 81 lines 55-59) exclaims Hamlet as he walks towards a central mirror in order to search himself to try and explain what is going on. Branagh’s Hamlet looks like Hamlet; he looks like a prince and fits the role of Hamlet. The way that Branagh’s Hamlet pronounces the words in this soliloquy further proves why this is the best video.

This soliloquy is not meant to be upbeat or loud but soft and quite, while in some parts louder when Hamlet becomes disturbed or angry with the current situation he is in. In a way this soliloquy sounds almost suicidal. “ To die, to sleep --; No more, and by a sleep to say we end; The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks; That flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation; Devoutly to be wished. “ ( 81 lines 59-64) This part is especially interesting because of the word Heir. Heir could mean ear, air, and ere. This shows Shakespeare’s wit , because these words could also fit with some minor tweaking. Again Branagh’s version of this famous soliloquy is the best because it shows the most emotion and shows hamlet inside of hamlet, in his mind , contemplating about his situation; taking a deeper look into his soul and conscience.

“ To sleep, perchance to dream – ay there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come; when we have shuffled off this mortal coil; Must give us pause; there’s the respect.” (82 lines 64-67) Are dream’s a premonition of what is going to happen? When we die will we finally have the respect that everyone craves for? Will people pause or holt or slow down for one moment and think of what one has done? Will anything anyone does leave an imprint in the sands of time? Branagh’s Hamlet poses these questions by the tone of his voice, he genuinely cares about what he is saying, and in a sense becomes Hamlet; that is the only way to be a great actor. Become the character that one has to act thus that person will perfect the scene. Branagh does just this, he shows Hamlet for who he is.

As this Hamlet goes on and continues his soliloquy with “ For who would bear the whips and scorns of time; Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely; The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office” is just beginning to scratch the surface of his deep hatred for either society or his uncle; King Claudius. Branagh’s Hamlet shows this emotion and deep sense of hatred of Claudius exactly one minute and twenty four seconds into this video when Hamlet takes out his dagger and says “ The patient merit of th’ unworthy takes; when he himself might his quietus make; with a bare bodkin, who would fardel’s bear” then the camera switches to Claudius and Polonius instantly for one second 1:36-37 plus some thousands of a second. This is just a mere technique in film to show that Claudius is afraid of Hamlet.

The end of this soliloquy echoes in Claudius’ mind, “ To grunt and sweat under a weary life; But that dread of something after death; The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn; No traveler returns, puzzles the will; And makes us rather bear those ills we have; Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards [of us all]” continues Hamlet. Will the dread of something one has done eventually kill that person because of guilt? Is everyone nice and caring because they are coward and fear to go to hell? How much power does the conscience have? What separates conscious from unconscious?

“ And thus the native hue of resolution; Is sicklied o’er with pale cast of thought; and enterprises of great pitch and moment; With this regard their current turn awry; And lose in the name of action.” Will we all be pale when the time of death comes upon us? Will that pitch overtake us all? Will the everything lose values and purpose in this regard? Branagh’s Hamlet portrays everything that Hamlet is supposed to be like. One cannot tell whether or not this Hamlet is crazy. It ends with these three lines “ Soft you now; The fair Ophelia. Nymph, in thy orisions; Be all my sins remembered.” It is possible that Hamlet is reminding Ophelia about something. Perhaps Hamlet was not lying about Ophelia being pregnant or maybe he has something on her.

In conclusion, Branagh portrays this scene the best out of the three because it shows Hamlet being Hamlet, and does so by using different film techniques and applies them to show the viewer Hamlet for who he is.

Michael R. 6 said...

Act 3:1

In Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy from Act 3:1, the actor puts on a show that evokes emotion and feeling much like the player did for Hamlet earlier in the play. This third video is different from all of the other video because it most accurately portrays the actual play and the setting that the tone Shakespeare creates. Hamlet is in the palace in Denmark standing alone in front of a mirror which is fitting for this speech because a mirror allows him to speak alone and still get the impression that one is being listened to. Some of the most recognized words in the history of the English language are found at the beginning of this soliloquy in the play when Hamlet asks himself the question – “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” (III i 55). The King and Polonius spy as Hamlet ponders the pros and cons of continuing on in a life filled with trials and tribulations.

In the beginning of the video there is a long shot with the actor’s head and feet. He is the only one in the mirror able to seen. Slowly, as the lines go on, actor moves closer and closer as the camera follows. Eventually, the long shot is changed into an extreme close-up shot where only Hamlet can be seen. Because it is an extreme close-up the actor is isolated and alone. There is no one else in the shot, no one else to feel the pain and torment that the actor does. Close-ups are to alienate and show confusion or loneliness. Hamlet is confused and maybe fighting within himself as to whether or not he wants to continue this battle to find the answers.

His first line “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” (III i 55) has Hamlet questioning his existence; “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” (III i 56). The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are his father’s death and the marriage between his mother Gertrude and his Uncle Claudius. Or should he endure the pain and “take arms against a sea of troubles,” (III i 58) surviving long enough to fulfill the prmise made to his father’s ghost? Death is sleep and an eternal says Hamlet. Those that sleep do not have to deal with people higher than them disrespecting them and treating them like nothing, “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,” (III i 69). “And by a sleep to say we end/ the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks/ that flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation,” (III I 60-62) refers to Hamlet ending his life and coincidentally, he just happens to be carrying around a dagger with him. It was commonplace to carry around a weapon in those times merely for self-defense.

In the video while, the dagger is out, Hamlet says his lines and holds the dagger to the mirror. The shot is created in a way that it looks like Hamlet inches closer and closer to his throat with the knife but each time pulls it away creating the idea that he is toying with himself, or testing himself; trying to create the illusion that he can take his life right now if he wants to. When the dagger is unsheathed, there is a jump cut to King Claudius and the expression on his face is one of surprise. He could be surprised that Hamlet is about to kill himself or that Hamlet is carrying around a dagger on himself. King Claudius reaction could be surprise in that he is shocked to learn that Hamlet has gone insane and Hamlet’s life may be threatened by it.

The actual colors chosen for the setting are relevant to the tone as well because white and black as a mix represent the mind and the floor in the mirror has a box pattern of white and black boxes. There set surrounding Hamlet shrouds him and closes him off from the rest of the world. He is alone in the hall (or so he thinks that he is) and let’s his thoughts flow.

The score in the background is found or fitting to the tone of the soliloquy because it is not profound or in the middle of the speech. The score adds to the mood and its eeriness. There are chants or wails from a violin at appropriate times throughout the soliloquy. The most fitting of the soliloquy was at the pulling of the dagger.

Near the middle of his soliloquy, Hamlet rationalizes that death is not the answer and that the dreams found in the afterlife may be ones that are no different from the ones found in this world. Death is unknown to Hamlet and to all man, “But, there the dread of something after death,/ the undiscovered country, from whose bourn,/ no traveler returns, puzzles the will,” (III i 77-79). In the end of his speech he concludes that this question does not have an answer and he is interrupted by the coming of Ophelia. She is greeted by Hamlet under his breath and makes her to be an angel with his line, “Be all my sins remembered,” (III i 88).

Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Hamlet is the best out of all of the Hamlet videos because the Hamlet chosen is believable and overall setting fits the description and the tone from the play. The cinematography, lighting, and colors chosen for the set design add the mood and help to elaborate one of the most studied and recognized soliloquies of all time.

Emily R 6 said...

In Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Act 3 Scene 1 of Hamlet’s soliloquy, the use of the mirror in which Hamlet speaks to represents a parallel world which is a theme throughout the novel and the appearance of false reality. Throughout Hamlet there are many parallels. There is a parallel to Hamlet and Fortinbras, Fortinbras’ Uncle and Claudius, and between the Queen and Fortune. Also, the mirror represents the illusion of something being real when it is not. This is shown through acting. This causes doubt to the authenticity of Hamlet’s soliloquy. He may or may not know of the whereabouts of Polonius and Claudius.


In Branagh’s rendition Hamlet is shown standing about 6 feet in front of a mirror. He begins talking in a low voice, almost a whisper slowly walking towards the mirror. After saying, “what dreams may come”(65) music begins playing, intensifying the scene. His actions seem as though he is trying to instill fear in someone, making it seem as though hw knows someone is watching. Throughout the soliloquy Hamlet is only seen through the mirror, only his back is shown at the beginning which eventually is only himself in the mirror. This represents a false person. It is not truly Hamlet, only his reflection.


His reflection is the false Hamlet, the actor. He is aware of Claudius’ presence. Hamlets reasoning to this soliloquy threaten the King. After saying, “When he himself might his quitus make with a bare bodkin..” (74-75) Hamlet pulls out a dagger, and a flash of Claudius’ fearful face is shown. This passage means that Hamlet can make the score even of his father’s death with a dagger. This act that Hamlet is given is a warning to his Uncle. The dagger foreshadows the fate Hamlet wishes upon his Uncle to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet’s loony demeanor in the play is an act, just as this soliloquy is. It is a front to deceive everyone. His deceit is driven from his desire to avenge his father.


After Hamlet pulls out the dagger continues to advance the mirror till he becomes almost inches away. He brings the dagger towards his heads and presses it against his face while he continues his soliloquy. In the play, as he does this, he says “And thus conscience does make cowards of us all”(82). In the play “conscience” means reflection which directly connects to Branagh’s rendition. In the rendition, Hamlet is staring into his reflection in the mirror. In the play the passage means that self reflection can frighten someone, perhaps from seeing the actual truth that one holds deep within.


In the rendition, as Hamlet ends the soliloquy, he touches the mirror with his sword and says, “And lose the name of action”(87). The soliloquy is a reflection, just as the one seen throughout the rendition, of Hamlet’s life and future doings. When Hamlet says, “pangs of depis’d love”(71) he speaks to Ophelia. When Hamlet says, “that patient merit of th’ unworthy takes”(73) he speaks to his Uncle who took the thrown from his father, “unworthy” of it. Though Hamlet acts as though he is alone, his speech is directed toward Claudius. In it he reflects upon the pains in his life and the pains he wishes to seek out against those “unworthy”. The dagger shown in the rendition shows Hamlet’s intentions. His intention of this soliloquy is to threaten Claudius shown through his low voice, his dagger, and his use of words. The soliloquy is a parallel of his life.

Elina R 6 said...

Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1 is one of the most momentous instances in the play. Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of Hamlet’s words brings to life the deeper meaning of this famous passage. By making specific decisions in his movements and tone, Branagh facilitates the understanding of Shakespeare’s writing.

The passage begins with the infamous lines, “to be, or not to be, that is the question;” (55). Hamlet is trying to decide weather it would be easier to kill himself or live his life. As he does so, he is looking at himself in a mirror and speaks almost in a constant tone. The fact that Branagh is speaking in front of a mirror reveals that perhaps Hamlet is so insecure with himself that he needs the comfort of his own image to encourage him to take action. But Branagh’s decision to deliver this line in monotone suggests that Hamlet does not care about his life. However, this it contradicted when he asks himself if it would be better to just “suffer” (56) from all of his problems or “to take arm against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them” (58-59). Branagh shows that Hamlet does indeed care but his life, but his madness will not allow him to think lucidly. At the moment when he delivers this line, Branagh bends his elbow and makes a fist with his right hand, and then takes a step forward. His actions suggest that he will actually take action and stop his suffering. The fist evokes a sense of violence, which may imply that Hamlet will use violence to deal with his problems. The fact that Branagh takes a step forward after he makes a fist is another sign of Hamlet’s insecurity. It shows that he will act violently before thinking about his actions, which might lead him to even greater problems.

The passage continues with Hamlet wondering if it were better to sleep or to dye. He confuses himself even more by coming to the conclusion that dying is sleeping; therefore dreams are a part of dying. Branagh shows Hamlet’s agitation by breathing heavier while delivering the line “-ay, there’s the rub, For in that sleep of death what dream may come” (64-65). Hamlet is afraid that he will not be able to get rid of his problems even after death. Also, while he is delivering the line, suspense classical music begins to play in the background, which acts as an emphasis on Hamlet’s confusion. The music evokes a sense of loneliness that has taken over Hamlet. He is unable to share his troubles with anyone causing him to drown in a sea of thought. The movement in the music symbolizes that turbulence that is happening in Hamlet’s mind.

Further on, Branagh stops and says, “When he himself might his quietus make” (74). Hamlet says that it would be easy to just end one’s own life, which is correspondingly portrayed by the stop in the actor’s motion. By instantly stopping the movement of his legs, Branagh is symbolizing the easiness with which he could stop the movement of his heart. At this moment, he also takes out a sword and places it in front of him. Once again, the idea of violence to end Hamlet’s problems is portrayed. But soon enough, Hamlet realizes that the reason why people don’t just kill themselves is because they are afraid of what will happen to their souls after death. At this point, Branagh places the sword on the left side of his face and says, “puzzles the will” (79). Hamlet thinks that the dead will be unable to use their self-control. They will be paralyzed from attaining any form of freedom and taking action. As the sword is placed on his face and he is looking at his reflection, Branagh says, “Thus conscience does make cowards [of us all]” (82). This suggests that “reflection” brings sanity to the human mind. As the actor is looking at his face in the mirror and the sword on his left cheek, he realizes that he is a coward for not killing himself, but a sane human being for not committing such foul act.

Finally, Branagh takes the sword off his face while saying, “With this regard their currents turn awry” (86) and touches the mirror with the tip of his sword. Branagh’s actions suggest that now that Hamlet has seen his reflection and is sane, his urge to kill will twist. He will no longer want to kill himself, but the person in his way. As soon as he finishes his statement, Ophelia’s footsteps are heard from a far. The fact that she is the first person to appear after Hamlet’s soliloquy indicates that perhaps she will be the person in his way. Ophelia may be the one that is killed as a result of Hamlet’s “currents” twisting.

Hamlet’s Soliloquy by Kenny Branagh is an outstanding representation of the event. By moving cautiously he allows the reader and the viewer to understand Shakespeare’s words while foreshadowing future events. His choice in tone and control over his breathing reveal Hamlet’s thoughts and emotions throughout his soliloquy.

Kristin D. 5 said...

Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet’s soliloquy best captures the feelings and emotions of Hamlet’s character. The background, camera effects, elements of reflection, and the tone of voice used all work together to create a stronger image of Hamlet’s character and helps the viewer draw up conclusions about Hamlet and the type of person he is. It accurately portrays Hamlet’s situation and inner feelings.

Kenneth Branagh plays Hamlet and he is a good choice for the role because he fits into the character of a prince and he is dressed appropriately. The diction of his words and precision shows the proper manners that he has and further proves his high position in society. The film opens with Hamlet looking at himself in a mirror “To be or not to be? That is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take the arms against a sea of troubles.” Hamlet is contemplating death. He is trying to decide for himself whether it is better to live of to die and whether is it better to put up with life or just end life because it is hard. Hamlet questions himself while looking at his reflection in the mirror. The reflection gives a stronger effect to the fact that Hamlet has an inner conflict. Hamlet may be looking at his reflection to see something that he can not see. By looking at his own reflection Hamlet is looking for an answer within himself.

Kenneth Branagh speaks in a soft voice throughout this whole scene. He is not loud and angry but more held back and secretive. The soft quite voice gives an eerie feeling to the situation. The tone of his voice and quietness helps give effect to the uncertainty of Hamlet. He is confused and unsure of himself and his tone of voice accurately depicts this. Further into the scene Hamlet still speaks in a quiet tone. It makes Hamlet’s character seem insane or on the verge of becoming insane.

At the beginning the scene Hamlet is standing at a distance of the mirror. As he continues his soliloquy he comes closer to the image of himself. This could be trying to give effect to the fact that Hamlet understands himself more and more as he comes closer with his image. “To die, to sleep-No more-and by a sleep to say we end The heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to” After questioning himself whether to live or die Hamlet comes to the conclusion that dying is the same as sleeping and dying is better because it ends all the pain that life brings. Hamlet comes closer and starts to realize that there is a catch to “sleeping” because “for in that sleep of death what dreams may come…That makes calamity of so long life”. He realizes that there is a catch to why death is not always the answer because once death comes there is no certain answer for what happens after death.

Hamlet draws a knife up at his reflection. “But that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we known not of”, Hamlet is contemplating suicide toward the beginning of the scene but further as he approaches closer to his image he realizes more and more things about himself and about people. He does not think anyone would bear life because it was so horrible unless there was a catch and he realizes that the catch is that nobody knows what happens after death and that people would rather suffer and live the life that they know rather then to go on to something unknown.

“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”. With the knife still drawn Hamlet says that thinking about death and fearing it makes people lack courage to act and then he starts to lower his knife maybe to symbolize the withdrawal to the idea of suicide. As Hamlet further lowers his knife he says “and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”. Native is a place or some sort of origin that something came to being. The original idea of death is covered with the thought and fear of death. When something is covered and becomes pale it becomes unclear. The fear of death disables Hamlet’s ability to act on his thoughts of suicidal. When Hamlet says that he can not act “and lose the name of action” he completely withdraws his sword and it can not be seen anymore. This is a really good effect because it shows the audience the withdrawal of Hamlet’s original intentions of killing himself.

Hamlet’s soliloquy by Kenneth Branagh is the best portrayal of Hamlet’s character out of all three videos because it builds the character from beginning to end and the tone and movement of the character accurately builds emotions and inner feelings of Hamlet.

Wendy C.5 said...
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Wendy C.5 said...

In the whole blog, Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet’s soliloquy captures Hamlet’s feelings and mentality toward his uncle in the current situation the best. Compared to the other two videos, this version gives off a better understanding toward Hamlet. In the Branagh’s video, it set the stage in a room similar to a palace room, which is more relative to the setting of the actual play and the royalties of Denmark. The use of the mirror on the wall and the knife give a better view of Hamlet’s current state. The mirror reveals his inner soul and consciousness and the knife shows the state of mind.

As he stands several feet parallel to the mirror with his reflection in it and asks “To be or not to be, that is the question:” (81, line 55), it produces the image of Hamlet taking a deeper look at his own thoughts. As he continue with the words “Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them.” (81, lines 56-59), it reveals what is going on in his mind. It also gives a sense of his subconscious mind speaking directly to him. All of those words were spoken in a soft voice similar to a voice in a dream. The lines of “To die, to sleep” (81, line 59) are repeated more than once in the soliloquy giving the continuous feelings of a dream. It is as if he views of another world reflected through the mirror. Also as he pulled out his sword and point to the mirror, it reveals an image of another person that could be Claudius in a flash. It gives of him looking at an unreal world because of how he speaks and that flash of an image. It shows also he is thinking of revenge by that single image. His sword was pointing the knife at that image showing his consistent mindset of revenge.

Hamlet voices his words softly and draws toward louder tone as if he is going from sanity to insanity and also furious of the occurred events. Hamlet says the lines of “the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of th’ unworthy takes” (82, lines 71-74) shows the premonition of Claudius’s demise by his hand in his way. It shows his disturbed side to his hidden audience. Also as he speaks on the lines “no travelers returns, puzzles the will” (82, lines 79), he hold the knife to his head. It gives the evidence of his insanity or disturbed mind. It seems the anger, disturb, and insane mindset occur when his thoughts come upon Claudius because the flashing image appears just right after he predict Claudius’s demise and as he explain that about the mere knife which represent Claudius’s killing and the “fardels bear”(line 75) as in the guilt of killing king Hamlet.

In Branagh’s video, it shows Hamlet’s feelings and mentality toward his uncle directly. His disturbed mind and feelings are shown in a comprehensive manner. The other two is a bit confusing. The first video by Laurence Olivier portrays Hamlet’s soliloquy in a good way, yet the subject of who Hamlet is talking about is not clear. It is where Hamlet is all alone on a tower which give no indication of who he is talking about and a setting not relevant to the text. It shows that Hamlet is truly insane and that is all. The second video by Alexander Fodor portrays his version in a modern version, yet in a confusing manner. It is hard to connect what is going on in the background to the words. It seems that the lines and the actions do not match. The action of young people kissing a person who is either dead or sleeping does not connect to the idea that Hamlet is speaking the lines other than insanity.

Simon M 6 said...

Hamlet’s act 3 scene 1 soliloquy is best portrayed by Kenneth Branagh in the third video. Each of the videos brought out the emotion and feelings inside Hamlet with scenery, camera angle, and an orchestrated background. Branagh however, makes the audience feel Hamlet’s very emotions with his tone of voice and hand gestures. The scene reveals that Hamlet examines his sanity, ambition, and slight desire to commit suicide.

Hamlet begins his soliloquy with the famous “To be, or not to be? That is the question—” (55). Hamlet here questions whether he wants to live or commit suicide. The scene starts with Branagh standing and staring at the mirror, standing up with legs together and hands at his sides. There is no music or any other sound to concentrate on Hamlet’s speech. In a monotonous, calm, and passionate voice, he speaks to himself in a mirror—his reflection. This is to ascertain what others view him as. Hamlet may wish to know “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (56-57). He wishes to test his composure with his current confused state of mind. Hamlet is also referring to Claudius at this point—to hide his feelings on the “mirror” side or to “take arms against” (58) and “by opposing, end” (59) him. When he says this defensive line, a fist is raised as if it is clenched exert anger or threaten. This gesture helps portray Hamlet’s feelings of anger and turbulence against Claudius.

Soon after Hamlet starts speaking about sleep and death, how death is merely a sleep that frees the “flesh” of “heart-ache” and “natural shocks” (61). Then he says that there may lie a problem with dreaming in this eternal sleep. The camera does something very interesting during most of his speech. Near the beginning of the speech, Branagh walks slowly step by step towards the large mirror. The camera follows him, focusing mainly on the mirror. The image reflected is the “mirror” image of a person, bounded with all hidden emotions not shown in the real world. Thus the reflection will be considered a dream. As Branagh and the camera get closer to the mirror, so does the reflection. This scene helps foreshadow that someone is going to be killed “in that sleep of death” as no one knows what “dreams may come” (65). Eerie music begins to play as he begins describing the scorns of the world. At last “with a bare bodkin” (75) Hamlet draws his dagger and points to his reflection. He asks himself “who would fardels bear,/to grunt and sweat under a weary life” (75-76). Claudius jolts up on the sight of the dagger, almost scared. Perhaps he knows Hamlet keeps it waiting to impale him one day. Staring at his reflection, he tests his ambition for revenge and his will to live on to carry it out. Inside, Hamlet is scared and confused. He may want to end it all with a quiet death. This is all reflected in the mirror. However, it is shown that Hamlet has the “resolution” (83) when Branagh taps his dagger against the mirror, to establish that the “dream-state” is not yet real. His resolution is clear however, as the camera is fixed on the ambitions of his “mirror” self. Hamlet will not kill himself and he keeps his composure intact. Finishing the soliloquy, Branagh talks sincerely to Ophelia as violins play in the background. His composure is strong and he can hide his deep confusion. It is clear from the way he talks to Ophelia that he cares for her.

The video does well in presenting the true feelings inside Hamlet. He makes a clear decision to follow his ambitions thoroughly. His “will” (79) is no longer paralyzed by any hesitation. Branagh speaks clearly and the suspense is high because the audience is (at least for the beginning) solely listening to his words. The video does an excellent job capturing the emotions and themes of the scene.

sarah c 6 said...

Act 3:1

I chose to write about Branagh’s’s performance because I think that this scene portrays Hamlet’s soliloquy the best. Some things from the video clip remind me of the part in the book, which is why I chose it. Hamlet’s soliloquy shows him in deep thought. His feelings are expressed through his speech. In my opinion, this act portrayed those qualities of Hamlet well.

Part of the reason that this video clip is a nice portrayal of Act 3:1 is because the setting reminds one of the castle. This relates well with the book because Hamlet is in the castle while he delivers his famous soliloquy. The setting is important because it fits well with the context.

While Hamlet is expressing such thought he is looking at himself in a mirror in the video clip. It also makes sense that others are spying on him because they can hide. This is significant because it is as if he is examining his appearance and in his speech he is examining his mind. Hamlet also talks about sleeping and dreaming. Previously he has said that his dreams trap his mind as if in a prison. While Branagh looks into the mirror he is only thinking of himself and everything he goes through alone. The mirror shows “Hamlet” is staring back at himself and mirrors can be a symbol of bad luck, but eyes can be the windows to the soul. This is a moment in which Hamlet is really thinking about only himself and the mirror helps one see this because Hamlet is alone in this room but he still stares back at himself.

When Branagh plays Hamlet he appears to be in character well. Branagh wears clothes that make him look like Hamlet and he does not look modern at all. In his video clip the character fits with the setting and it all fits in well with the actual story. Branagh’s tone when he speaks the soliloquy is the best. His tone shows meaning and displays how Hamlet is really feeling as Shakespeare wrote his character to feel.

One part of this video clip really shows Hamlet’s resentment for King Claudius. A little after a minute into the video clip, about halfway, Hamlet takes out a dagger as he says one of his lines. As “Hamlet” takes out the dagger, the screen switches very quickly to King Claudius’ scared looking face, as he says, “The patient merit of the unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make, with a bare bodkin; who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life…” This part shows both Hamlet’s dislike for Claudius and Claudius’ fear of Hamlet. This part makes the words have more meaning.

Overall, this was the best video clip of the three. The setting matched the book and Branagh matched the character of Hamlet. The tone and pitch of the voice was just as one would imagine Hamlet’s to be because he is very serious when saying his soliloquy. This was the best performance of act 3:1 in Hamlet.

Stephanie P. 5 said...

Kenneth Branagh, in my opinion, by far delivers his lines the best because of the scenery the way the actor delivered his lines and the way in which the scene was captured on camera. Hamlet is talking of suicide so in the back of my mind I thought I would pick the person who looks the most distressed and depressed. When I saw Branagh do his lines, he gave me the impression that he was Hamlet.

To me Laurence Oliver looked the most depressed. The way he delivered his lines were soft and slow, the color was black and white, and he was looking out at the sky as if in a daze or onto the rough sea where he could have easily fallen into, and at the end, which was my personal favorite, he walks of into this fog as if he doesn’t know where he is going. But Oliver didn’t give me an impression that this was Hamlet; it was far too dull to be Hamlet. I could practically predict what Oliver was going to do; it was kind of cliché, like I had already seen it before. By reading the book readers see that Hamlet hasn’t gone in the direction that I thought he was going to go in; he is very unpredictable. Oliver also doesn’t bring out this madness that I know is in Hamlet, which is very disappointing. I enjoyed the music I thought it went along with the scene really well and tired to add suspense to the whole thing.

Alexander Fodor was interesting and came in second, in my opinion. Fodor looks like he is really contemplating whether it is better live or to die. I like the slight intensity in his eyes. The light in the background was a good effect; it gave me the impression that Hamlet is intrigued with the idea going into “the light” or after life. I didn’t quite understand the kissing the corps and the transformations. Again I didn’t see the madness that Hamlet has.

Branagh brought out the madness many readers believe, including myself, believe he Hamlet has. The scenery was good; Hamlets a very wealthy person who is very privileged the scenery is something I pictured it would be like while reading the book. He slowly walks to the mirror in a subtle way but as he gets closer his eyes are have intensity and are unsubtle; this sort of goes along with his sometime normal and sometimes mad personality. Looking in the mirror had a great effect it gave the impression that Hamlet’s really thinking is it worth suffering. When Hamlet pulls out the knife and the kings face flashes it sort of reminds the people watching why Hamlet’s mad and reminds Hamlet that he has to avenge his father. When Branagh brings the knife to his face it was showing the Hamlet could take the easy way out and end his life in a second. Overall the performance he gave was great.

Christina H 6 said...

The third performance by Kenneth Branagh best interprets Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1, because it captures the prince’s conflict between reality and his dream-like world. The detailed setting of the video accurately portrays a grand room in the palace of Denmark where Hamlet is thinking out loud. Kenneth Branagh’s delivers the speech in a hushed tone, which expresses Hamlet’s feelings of disappointment and depression, and expresses his mysterious character as well. Unlike the other two videos that take place in an awkward, random setting, Branagh’s video flows logically with the rest of the play.

The video begins with Branagh standing perfectly still in front of a full-length mirror in a grand room or hall of the palace. The details in this scene display Hamlet’s wealthy background. There are multiple grand-scale mirrors in the room that complement the pearl white walls and the golden trimmings and wall designs. The floor is made up of neat black and white square tiles. Branagh is dressed in predominantly black clothes aside from the white undershirt, which represents his struggles between life and death. The black is consuming Hamlet with ideas of suicide. In addition to the lack of bright colors in the scene, the lighting of the scene is also kept at a minimal. Drawing first impressions from the setting, the scene creates a serious and depressing atmosphere.

When Branagh delivers the first line, “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” (55), he pauses after the end of each phrase as if he was registering the words that he was saying. Hamlet contemplates suicide, and in the video he stares deeply into his reflection, hoping to find the answer within himself. He struggles between life and death, and wonders “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” (56-57), or, lifting his arm to his cheat, “to take arms against a sea of troubles” (58) in order to put an end to them. His inability to make a clear decision over the issue of suicide reflects the uncertainty of his character. Hamlet weighs both sides of the situation—life and death—and realizes that both decisions may involve eternal suffering. His lack of authority and self-confidence pushes him to take a better look at himself through the mirror.

Still staring at himself, Branagh slowly walks closer to the mirror, taking a single step at about every 10 seconds. The slow pace of his walk also represents the amount of time that Hamlet is taking to register his thoughts. Hamlet wants “to die” (63) yet he simply wants to go “to sleep” (63) at the same time. He tries to differentiate between the two, but they both seem to provide the necessary means for him to escape from reality.

Branagh quickly changes his tone at 0:52 seconds into video. Hamlet announces to himself, “ay, there’s the rub” (64). The sudden change in his tone is similar to the spontaneous emergence of an idea. Hamlet comes to a realization that the worst that sleep could bring is dreams, but the “sleep of death” (65) leaves an uncertain path that may lead to even more suffering than the harshness of his reality. By recognizing the obstacle that death poses, Hamlet comes to a deeper understanding of the reasons for people’s choice to suffer in life rather than face an unpredictable life after death. At the same time when Branagh says, “what dreams may come” (65), eerie music begins to play in the background. The music adds a creepy and mysterious feel to the scene as Hamlet talks about dreams. To Hamlet, the scene is almost surreal as he is going back and forth between reality and the thoughts in his head.

At 1:37 seconds, Branagh swiftly pulls out his dagger from his side pocket. For a split second, the video shows a glimpse of Claudius’ horrified face as jumps at the sight of Hamlet’s dagger. The sharp sound that the video makes when the dagger is pulled out also catches the viewers’ attention. The sound is loud and crisp, which shows that Hamlet wanted Claudius and Polonius, who were hiding, to hear his desire to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet makes these references indirectly. Claudius who was probably listening to Hamlet’s speech intently had jumped in response to Hamlet’s unpredictable, aggressive movement, or Claudius’ guilty conscious kicked in.

As Branagh approaches his reflection even closer, he raises the dagger to his temple at the lines, “No traveller returns, puzzles the will” (76-79). Hamlet sees that death is permanent, and if he chooses death, then he will stop fate. However, by not choosing death, he still has the ability to fight against fate and change his future. By pointing the dagger at his head, Branagh shows that the source of Hamlet’s dilemma is his mind. Hamlet claims, “thus conscience does make cowards [of us all]” (82). Hamlet is blaming his mind for his second thoughts. Because of these second thoughts, Hamlet is unable to put actions to his words. Lastly, Branagh points his dagger at his reflection showing Hamlet’s disappointment in himself and his wishes to commit suicide, because he is useless.

In conclusion, Kenneth Branagh best represents the character of Hamlet, not only because of the physical attire, but his mysterious personality. The set also accurately portrays Hamlet’s palace, which makes the scene realistic and believable. The color and lighting of the set design adds to the depressing atmosphere of the situation. Altogether, these factors create a successful interpretation of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

Shaun N 5 said...

Shaun N
3/10/08
Period 5

Hamlet’s Soliloquy: Act 3 Scene 1


The best video representation of Hamlet’s soliloquy in scene one of act three, in my opinion, is the third posted, the Kenneth Branagh version, which depicts a calm and charismatic Hamlet and at the same time displays a vast supply of symbolism within the minimal camera angles executed. Over the length of the entire soliloquy in fact, there is but one steady shot, gradually zooming in as Hamlet draws closer to his reflection. There is only one brief, nearly subliminal, interruption inside this buildup.

The first thing that is immediately noticeable in this version of the Hamlet videos is the fact that, as Hamlet speaks, he is walking toward a large mirror, and the shot becomes increasingly focused on Hamlet’s reflection as opposed to his actual self. In the end of the shot, the angle moves completely into Hamlet’s reflection revealing nothing of the actual person (of the “real world”). Hamlet’s reflection fills the screen upon the lines, “But that the dread of something after death,/The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn/No traveler returns, puzzles the will…” (page 82, lines 77-79) Literally, he is referring to hell and the life after death. What is displayed in the video, however, is the analogy of hell in comparison to Hamlet’s delving into deeper insanity. The fact that this line begins where the director has chosen to fall into the mirror means precisely that the interpretation the director is attempting to display is of Hamlet disappearing into himself (the reflection) and dwelling in a mindset unstable (hell).

Within the initial extended shot of Hamlet walking toward his reflection, there is a brief shot of another character. My first assumption is that this person is King Hamlet. The image appears only after Hamlet pulls a knife from his jacket and thus brining on this image of King Hamlet holding a knife as well. It seems to be an obvious connection between Hamlet and his father, an empowerment, that enables Hamlet to embody the soul of his father and carry out his promise to fulfill the vengeance upon his death.

Further analysis into the Kenneth Branagh video clip would reveal symbolism in the scenery that surrounds Hamlet for his soliloquy. Aside from the one mirror, there are many other mirrors within the room, seen through the likes of the first mirror. This imagery adds to the idea of Hamlet’s insanity and displays a sort of confusion due to the mirrors within mirror. It is a mental state that tells the audience that Hamlet may be lost within himself, so far gone that he may never see the light of day.

Another image within the scenery is the vast black and white checkered floor in the room. It is almost blinding to look directly at it, as it may also be as equally blinding to become accustomed to a disturbing truth. The truth in this case, of course, is the true fashion in which King Hamlet died; his murder and a rushed marriage between the Queen and the King Hamlet’s brother.

Stephanie P. 5 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thespina g 6 said...

Act 3:1 - Hamlet’s Soliloquy


After watching all three videoclips, I came to the conclusion that the third videoclip by Kenneth Branagh was the best interpretation of Hamlet's famous soliloquy because of the portrayal of the actor, his delivery of the lines, and the lighting and camera effects used during the soliloquy. The portrayal of the actor captured Hamlet's tone and emotions while speaking, the actor's delivery of the lines was at the perfect speed to give enough meaning to the words, and the effects of the camera captured the intensity of the soliloquy as well as the actor's intensity.

The actor clearly fits the role of Hamlet- a prince who is not insane, but may appear that way to others who don't know what he's thinking. He speaks with the accent of a prince and with the rythm of an intellectual. He never mumbles and his voice gains speed and depth the more upset him because. The point of Hamlet's soliloquy is for him to discuss with himself, to vent out what is going on around him and what is disturbiing him that is causing everyone around him to believe he is insane. The actor's delivery of the lines is exactly as Shakespeare's Hamlet would have been. He portrays Hamlet in the most accurate way out of all three Hamlets.

As Branagh's Hamlet approaches his reflection in a mirror he begins the famous speech. "To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer; The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; or to take arms against a sea of troubles; And by opposing, end them.” ( p.81 lines 55-59). It's clear he is contemplating everything just by how he is looking into himself for answers. The soliloquy is not meant to sound positive. It should be gloomy, vengeful and at some points, angry. Branagh's Hamlet does exactly this by increasing his volume while reciting particular lines where Hamlet presumably feels angry or upset. He remains calm and quiet while starting and looks at himself, pondering. "To die, to sleep --; No more, and by a sleep to say we end; The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks; That flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation; Devoutly to be wished. “ ( p.81 lines 59-63. These lines are recited in a fragile and quiet manner by Branagh's Hamlet. The actor looks into the mirror as if asking himself, "Should I act upon what I now know, or should I just accept the fact that he is my father and uncle?". What's wonderful about this video is that every last word of the soliloquy is readable on the actor's face.

The lighting and camera techniques do a brilliant job at capturing Hamlet's facial expressions. Also, one camera technique is the camera shooting at an angle where you can ssee only Hamlet's reflection and theback of the right side of his upper body and head. There is never a direct shot of Hamlet until Hamlet walks up to the mirror and the camera zooms in so that it looks like the camera is on him, but having seen how the shot was a few seconds earlier, the viewer knows that the shot from the camera angle is manipulated by the mirror, making it look like a direct shot of the actor, but really, the camera is still on the actor's reflection. Not only is this an interesting technique, it makes Hamlet seem to have many layers to his character and allows the viewer to see Hamlet with different aspects, literally. As for the lights, they are bright throughout the entire videoclip and fill up the room that Hamlet is in. The lights give the impression that Hamlet is less alone than he looks, even though he is standing by himself. Directly after the soliloquy, Ophelia enters and there is a shot of Cornelius and Polonius, which proves that Hamlet really is less alone than he looks.

Hamlet continues, "To die, to sleep-- to sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there's the rub, For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause; there's the respect that makes calamity of so long life: For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The pangs of despis'd love," (p.82 lines 63-71). In these lines, Hamlet compares dying to sleeping. He recognizes an obstacle presented when sleeping--if one will dream or not. He starts to sound suicidal the more he speaks because he complains about how the world is full of bad things and wonders who would bear them. The emotion he feels based on the acotr portrayal of him could be interpreted as suicidal or even violent. As soon as he starts with the line "For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,"(line 69), a deep sad song starts to play in the background and gets louder the more Hamlet speaks, as does Hamlet who appears to become more upset as the song becomes louder. Finally, he does become violent on camera when he his very close to the mirror and whips out a dagger, "With a bare bodkin,"(line 75), is what he says, referring to his own dagger. A great camera effect of foreshadowing is used as soon as Hamlet takes the dagger out of his pocket. The camera flashes to a scene of King Claudius with someone holding a dagger to his throat. This flash happens within half of a second but has the right effect on the viewer. Branagh's Hamlet continues speaking of "something after death, the undiscover'd country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of?"(lines 77-81). He contemplates what is after death, and knows only that it is something no man is familiar with. Hamlet referrs to his mother when he says these lines because he says that the fear of "the undiscover'd country" paralyzes people from doing what they truly want, and makes them live with the problems they have, rather than "fly to others that we know not of" (line 81). It is ironic that Branagh's Hamlet is looking into his own reflection when he says "Thus conscience does make cowards [of us all],"(line 82). This could be interpreted as Hamlet viewing himself as a coward because he won't or is afraid to avenge his father's death.

Throughout the entire soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates whether he should act upon his new knowledge or not. From beginning to end he considers different things that have to do with avenging his father's death such as, his mother, and the king. He connects his actions to sleeping and dreaming which are portrayed in the videoclip through the light and camera effects, such as having Hamlet stand in front of a mirror speaking directly to himself and filling the room upwith bright light. Lastly, the actor portrayal of Hamlet was the most accurate because he shows the most emotion, brings out Hamlet's thoughts through his actions and expressions and delivers the difficult lines as precisely as possible.

And might I add, he is by far the cutest Hamlet.

Luana said...

Kenneth Branagh’s deliberation of one of the most famous speeches ever given in English literature, Hamlet’s Soliloquy is given with the intensity and the zest of lunacy necessary to fully captivate Hamlet’s perturbed emotional state. A qualm between life or death, Branagh captures Hamlet’s conflict by juxtaposing the two possibilities and allows Hamlet’s inner thoughts to be revealed to himself and his audience.
The setting of the scene helps create a very solid image of Hamlet and his surroundings. Only natural that the soliloquy itself take place in the palace, as it is he has an audience in Polonius and Claudius, who are both keenly listening to every word. Another aspect of the scene, that draws immediate attention, is the form in which Branagh delivers the soliloquy. By facing a mirror, Branagh allows Hamlet to take a role that may appear lunatic. In the very beginning of the speech, Branagh’s body posture, which is very stern, shoulders slightly lifted, the body very straight, with a deep and intense gaze right into the mirror, as he utters “To be or not to be” suggests an almost disgust for himself. Yet his voice, which is almost a whisper, alludes to an obsession and a determination.
As he repeats for a second time “To die, to sleep -To sleep,” branagh begins to approach the mirror in very soft and slow calculated movements. However, his hand is raised and clenched into a fist. His voice makes little trembles. He is not arguing with himself, but lecturing on the possibilities of what death may bring; an endless infinity of sleep, free of the turmoil’s of mortal life. However, there is a downfall, for in sleep we dream and what dreams the “sleep of death” may bring we can not know.
Hamlet continues to approach the mirror, his thoughts of suicide begin to diminish. His mind stops to consider what makes life so miserable and contemplates the idea that if everyone were to die, than “who would bear the whips and scorns of the world?; the oppressors foul play, the proud mans arrogance, the sudden sharp spasm of pain born of a despised love, the slow and glacial pace of the law, or perhaps the presumptuous…..” His thoughts suddenly halt and he moves back into his feelings self hate. In a way that would suggest suspicions within himself, his eyebrows rise in the middle of certain phrases, one particularly referring to his scorn for his patience in his attempt to end his life, when with merely a dagger, it could all end so simply and easily.
While analyzing the dagger, Hamlet expresses his continual conflict with death. The idea of entering what could be considered an “undiscovered country,” whose boundaries “no traveler” may ever return from, paralyzes his “will” to die. And it is this fear that allows the human kind to endure the misery and “calamity” here on earth.
The music, a variety of string instruments, and most notably, the violins, become louder and powerful as hamlet reaches the last few lines of his soliloquy. With the dagger still in hand his conscience completely blurred with ongoing expectations of what awaits him in the after life, he can only find one resolution. As he takes the dagger and brings it down from his face and places the tip of it on the glass of the mirror, pointing the dagger directly at himself, he reaches a conclusion that albeit sick with pallor from melancholy, the risks of the greatest and highest point in the moment, has twisted his head and he has lost all purpose.
Kenneth Branagh’s deliberation of hamlet’s soliloquy really captured the heartache of Hamlet’s fragile state. Although in many parts, Hamlets sanity is arguably questionable, this speech was a revelation in itself. He does not appear to have the capacity to take his own life, although he would very much like to, his fears are far to great. His scorn for himself might be heightened after he failed to take his own life. However, it is his loss of purpose that will really set in as his conflict progresses and continues to grow.

Mark D5 said...

Mark
Hamlet’s Soliloquy (Kenneth Branagh)

In my opinion, the best interpretation of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy was the Kenneth Branagh version. Hamlet has got to be the most challenging role for an actor. Depending on the director’s vision the actor will have to play the role insane, or will have to act like a character who is acting insane. Hamlet has the most layers to his character than any other in the play and Branagh depicts and shows all the layers in his brilliant performance of the monologue in Act 3 Scene 1.
Hamlet starts his speech by standing straight up and staring at himself in the mirror. Using a mirror in motion pictures is always a good way to show a character torn between two decisions. With the mirror we see one Hamlet with his back facing the audience and the other in the mirror. And the question he is being torn about is ultimately whether or not to kill himself. “ To be or not to be, that is the question”. The calm and airy voice of Branagh during the most intense monologue in the play adds a chilly feeling to the scene. His voice never gets louder than a soft whisper. Also his face is absolutely genius. His lack of volume in his voice is immensely made up for by the fire in his eyes. The audience can feel the heat, passion, and depression his eyes while staring at himself in the mirror. In the soliloquy Hamlet questions whether “ Tis nobler” to face the struggles of the world or to do something about it and just end them. By doing this “ we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to”. Being human is not easy. If a person could just kill themselves they are not only ending the sea of troubles which drown them at that particular moment but also they are ending their suffering soon to come.
The set matches perfect with the scene the director creates. The ground is a simple black and white which is what is noticed first. Hamlet is dressed in black and white while standing on a black and white checkered floor. The black and white symbolize the choice Hamlet has: To commit suicide or be drowned in the sea of troubles. Also, deep in the background of the set are two other mirrors. Both mirrors have the reflection of the checkered floor giving the illusion of two paths. This could have been just how the shot turned out but in movie making hardly anything is done by accident. I believe that the director wanted to show the two paths Hamlet can take from that time forward.
Lighting has always been an interest of mine and as simple as the lighting design was for this shot I think they work. Which is also interesting that the whole monologue was done in one shot. There was no edits or cuts. Throughout the whole movie, or as much as I have seen of it, the lighting as been real world lighting. So to have a sudden change in the color scheme would be strange and take the audience out of the story.
The actor Kenneth Branagh make a subtle yet powerful acting decision during his second time saying “ To die, to sleep”. The audience has already heard Hamlet state that once a few lines earlier. The point has already been given that if he commits suicide so the second time around needs to be different. There needs to be a beat, a change of emotion. Branagh give an airy subtle breathe while repeating the words “To Sleep”. It seems to give a shudder of fear over Hamlet. His fear has been quickly dripping away from him since his encounter with his father’s ghost so it is very unusual and well put to have Hamlet show a quick and small gleam of fear in his voice.
As Hamlet gets closer to the mirror there is another beat. He realizes why humans so not end their troubled lives everyday. “ But that the dread of something after death, the undiscover’d country, from whose bourn no traveller returns.” People fear what they do not know or understand the most. And if they dare think that there is life after death than the uncertainty of what the world after suicide is like could be the reason for staying alive. Hamlet never falls on an answer for whether he will end his life because he is interrupted by the fair Ophelia. In between the time where Branagh’s eyes were filled with passion and fire and the cut to him looking at what the noise was another reason why I choose this interpretation. In between the cut of the camera Hamlet has already has lost his madenning stare which he had throughout his whole soliloquy.

Emily L 6 said...

Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy demonstrates Hamlet’s nature the best with his use of tone, detailed facial expressions, and distinct movements. With the choices that Kenneth makes, he portrays Hamlet’s thoughts clearly and in a subtle way.

The scene starts with Hamlet standing still in front of a large mirror that reflects his whole body. The room is quiet, no music is played in the background, and the only voice heard is Hamlet’s. It grabs the viewer’s attention when Hamlet is the only one speaking because this allows for the reader to fully concentrate on Hamlet’s words. It also gives the impression that Hamlet is telling a secret as he whispers the words in a subtle tone. This subtle tone serves Hamlet well because Hamlet’s character is crafty and scheming.

Then he begins to recite the famous line “To be or not to be, that is the question…” (55) as he gazes deeply into the mirror. At this moment, Hamlet questions himself whether he shall live or die. Compared to the other two versions, this is the only version in which Hamlet actually looks at himself rather than at the camera when he speaks his soliloquy. It clearly shows that he is talking to himself because he looks at nothing but himself. He disregards everything, but his own thoughts. Even the room that he is in is filled with mirrors. Where ever he may look, Hamlet is trapped within his body and mind. The first two versions show Hamlet speaking to the camera so this conflicts with what a soliloquy should be because it is as if Hamlet is now speaking to the viewer and that there is someone there.

As Hamlet speaks more of his thoughts, he slowly steps closer and closer towards the mirror without ever taking a glimpse away. As he walks closer to the mirror, it signifies his path into discovering his intentions and the truth. He looks deeper into his eyes as he walks closer. Eyes are a symbol of truth and his thoughts become clearer when he walks closer to the mirror to focus on his eyes. First he questions whether he shall live or die, but then he talks about the pros and cons of life and death when he says “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them?” (56-59). Hamlet struggles to choose whether to put up with all the downfalls of life or to just simply put an end to it by dying. Then his thoughts become more specific as he walks even closer to the mirror. Hamlet begins to discuss the meaning of death when he says “to die, to sleep- no more- and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to-”(59-62). Death is like sleeping when all seems quiet and at end, but “to sleep, [there is a] perchance to dream” (64). Even though dying may appear to be a solution to the end of all the humiliation that life brings, it is still uncertain what happens when one is dead and that is why humans fear death.

After Hamlet speaks about death, music starts playing in the background. The music plays the sound of evil cries and the mood of Hamlet’s soliloquy starts to switch. Hamlet focuses more on the negatives of life. He describes examples of human humiliations like “th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of th’unworthy takes” (70-73). Hamlet’s tone gets louder and he appears angry when he says this. When he takes out his dagger, Claudius’s face appears for a split second. Hamlet has always planned to seek revenge for his father and with the appearance of Claudius in a fearful posture and Hamlet with his small dagger tightly gripped in his hands; it foreshadows Hamlet’s desire to kill Claudius and the true intentions of Hamlet. However, when Hamlet takes out his dagger, he points it toward the mirror where his reflection is. It symbolizes Hamlet challenging himself because he is still afraid of the “dread of something after death” (77) and the “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” (78-79), which means hell or the world of the dead.

He gives an evil smirks at the thought of taking revenge for his father and his eyes narrow with anger. He points at his head with the dagger. The thought of death still frightens him as it “puzzles the will” (79) to revenge. While pointing at his head, he says that “conscience does make cowards of us all” (82). Hamlet uses the dagger to point out the evils of his mind and conscience because at times Hamlet thinks too much and this weakens him, causing him to be in doubt. Finally Ophelia appears, and Hamlet makes a flawless transition from his evil smirk to a smile, demonstrating Hamlet’s ability to “act.”

In conclusion, Kenneth Branagh is able to achieve Hamlet’s character for being the manipulative character that he is by using a subtle tone to speak the soliloquy, a reflective setting, and the proper expression for each line.

Emily T 6 said...

Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet’s soliloquy best depicts the emotions, thoughts, and actions of Hamlet. Throughout the video Hamlet is focused in on a mirror. The image of the mirror represents several symbols that are shown through his emotions and his actions while he speaks.

During Hamlets soliloquy he does not take his eyes off of himself in the mirror. This could show that Hamlet is trying to find deeper meaning within him in order to answer his question “to be, or not to be”. Hamlet could be trying to find this answer within himself he could be looking for the truth in his own eyes. As he looks in the mirror while saying this his voice is low in a whisper. This could be because he is trying to conceal his true feelings only to himself. He is contemplating the thought of death but wants his true deep feelings to be kept a secret. While he is contemplating the meaning of life and death he raises his arm and makes a fist. This fist could symbolize his will to “take arms against a sea of troubles” that has been placed in front of him.

As Hamlet begins the lines “to die, to sleep” he begins to walk closer to the mirror. This shows how Kenneth Branagh focuses on Shakespeare language on his concentration of the issue of death and sleeping. It shows that Hamlet is curious about the distinction between death and sleep. He says “ and by sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to”. Hamlet believes that death is an everlasting sleep that ends the troubles that a human endures during their lifetime. He then goes on to contemplate the issue of death more in depth, “for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil”. He wonders if death really ends the misery that human beings face in their lifetime or if death could be a dream worse than what we have already endured even after life’s troubles have passed us. As he contemplates this issue music begins to play showing the intensity that Hamlet feels about this subject. Branagh tries to capture this intensity by using overdramatic music that makes the scene suspenseful in order to capture the importance that Shakespeare is trying to convey.

Hamlet keeps moving close to the mirror and the music is getting increasingly louder building up the suspense. As he moves closer to the mirror his voice raises into a louder whisper that gives of an angry tone. He utters the lines “for who would bear the whips and scorns of time, th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely”. These lines along with the tone of Hamlets voice show his anger through how he has been treated. He no longer wants to harassed and treated like a lesser individual by a man that is ignorant and carries a great ego. The way the actor moves towards the mirror fist clenched and voices rising give the audience a sense of revenge and rebellion from Hamlet.

When Hamlet reaches the mirror and says, “When he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?” he pulls out a knife and a face flashes the scene. This face that flashes the scene is either Polonius or Claudius. This could be the foreshadowing to what is to come between Hamlet and this character. The pulling of the knife in Hamlets soliloquy might foreshadow the pulling of the knife in another scene to come in the play. Hamlet pulls the knife while he is asking why people that are being brought down by hurtful don’t just quit and pull out their knife. This use of language could be illustrated in two different ways. Hamlet could be saying he is going to pull out his knife and end the life that is threaten or ruining his or he is saying that he is going to take out the knife and end his life in order to stop his own suffering. The video depicts both of these options. When the face flashes it makes the audience wonder if he is going to end another life. But as the scene proceeds it makes the audience wonder if Hamlet will end his own life because he raises the knife to his head.

Hamlet gets as close to the mirror as he can and says “ who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns”. As he is saying these lines his eyes shift for the first time in the scene. His eyes shift from the reflection of his eyes in the mirror to the ground. This shows that Branagh is depicting Hamlets doubt in the life after death. He cannot look himself in the eyes while he wonders is he should be afraid of what is to come after death. The movement in his eyes represents uncertainty at what is to come after death. This uncertainty comes from the fact that Hamlet knows there is no returning after death. He goes on to say “thus conscience does make cowards of us all” which shows that Hamlet does carry uncertainty on the issue of what comes from death and this is why Branagh shows the character shying away from his eyes.

This video exemplifies Hamlets soliloquy most accurately because it uses distinct actions and emotions through music and movements to show the audience how the character is feeling through Shakespeare writing.

Derek D5 said...

Kenneth Branagh’s performance of Hamlet’s soliloquy best captures the overall tone and the emotion of the piece. Branagh’s character has the regal look one would expect from a prince, but at the same time there is an energy surrounding him that draws the viewers attention. Branagh’s manner in speaking the lines are also closer to how Hamlet is commonly envisioned, to do this Branagh keeps his voice low and very airy, and keeps a very dark manner throughout the piece.

The piece begins with Hamlet standing a short distance from a full length mirror. Hamlet is facing away from the viewer, but it is possible to see the character through his reflection, which is intended to show the viewer the dual nature of Hamlet’s character. In fact the entire soliloquy is focused at the reflection of Hamlet.

The opening lines, “To be or not to be that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of trouble, and by opposing, end them.” are spoken at a point just above a whisper by Branagh, in order to show the depression which rules Hamlets life. As he says these lines, Branagh approached the mirror with very slow steps, while keeping a steady stream of lines directed at his reflection. This actions helps the readers view the madness that grips Hamlet early on.

Later on in the piece Branagh speaks the lines, “To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause; there’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life.” He begins to speed up the lines. This sudden influx of energy gains attention from the listeners and directs it towards the lines. The lines themselves hint at suicide, especially when Hamlet mentions, “when we have shuffled off this mortal coil”. All through this Branagh is still approaching the mirror, but the viewer can only see Hamlet’s reflection, which can symbolize wether or not the Hamlet saying this speech is the real Hamlet or not.

As Branagh continues through the piece he reaches a section where he speaks of, “the insolence of office,” and the line “When he might a his quietus make with a bare bodkin;” the lines leading up to the last one are obvious thoughts Hamlet has about his Uncle’s reign as king, and on the word bodkin Hamlet draws a stiletto style dagger from his belt. The camera also cuts to a face flinching away at the sound, who can be assumed to be Claudius. The sudden movement with the dagger, and the gestures Brangh makes with it help to reinforce the idea that Hamlet is mad and out for revenge. Also by this point Brangh is facing his reflection in the mirror and stands barely a foot from the mirror.

Branagh’s performance as Hamlet is the most believable out of the three performances posted, because Branagh seems to have immersed himself in the character that is Hamlet. He carries himself like a prince would, he is dresses like a member of a higher class, but most of all his delivery of the famed soliloquy is the most convincing aspect of his piece.

Laurie M 6 said...

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet’s soliloquy found in Act 3 scene 1 Kenneth Branagh uses great technique in order to convey the character Hamlet’s true feelings at that exact moment. Kenneth Branagh’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and color contrast in the scene allows the character’s true feelings to surface.

The color choice for the lighting in this scene plays a gigantic role in what the director wants to produce in this scene. In this video clip the setting is a really smoky and the colors are not defined. The color choice allows the audience to feel a sense of vague sadness. It’s sad because there are no bright colors in this scene. The darker the colors are the sadder the scene becomes. Also the lighting is not bright at all, the director made this choice in order to convey the silence this scene is supposed to have. If there where bright colors the mood of the soliloquy would change greatly. So the choice of using colors like gold, white, grey and brown is there to convey the gloomy feeling of the character.

The director also adds a mirror in this scene. The mirror is placed there as a prop for the character Hamlet. This character uses the mirror in a chilling way. As the actor gets into this scene he looks into the mirror deeply. He looks into the mirror as if he is looking into his soul, with so much intensity. The actor himself has eyes that intensify the scene. While saying “that patient merit of th’ unworthy takes” (line 73) the Hamlet approaches the mirror in an aggressive manner. He walks toward the mirror slowly, while the camera is zooming in closely to what is being filmed. The zooming effect adds intensity along with suspense.

The music behind the scene is extremely moving. The scene begins really slowly and moves into intense moments. Due to the importance of this speech, there must be silence at some points. Once the important aspects begin to surface, the music is added slowly. This music allows the audience to listen attentively. The mix between having the music quiet to mediocre, adds a flare to the scene. The soft setting gives the actor enough liberty to do as he pleases. He uses his acting skills and tone of voice to choose the right moments to soften his voice and/or make it louder. For example on lines 77-78 he says “the dread of something after death, the undiscover’d country, from those bourn” he raises his voice slowly. He raises the sword as well; this intensifies the scene in an incredible way. This makes the audience sit at the edge of their seats.

So in conclusion Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1 is best performed by Kenneth Branagh. It is best performed by him because of the use of lighting, tone of voice and color choice. All these aspects contribute to the display of Hamlet’s feelings. He is in an angry air in this scene and it is easily conveyed with the brilliance of Branagh’s choices.

Benwit L 6 said...

Of the three renditions of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1, the one directed by Kenneth Branagh is what I consider the best. It is not only a faithful interpretation, but it demonstrates good fundamental movie techniques. Branagh concentrates on delivering a solid performance.

Rather than trying to use movie effects to “enhance” the delivery of the lines, Branagh himself relies on the actual acting. As Branagh begins the famous, “To be, or not to be?” line, he starts off in a rather low, drawn out voice, as if he is keeping these thoughts to himself and is contemplating greatly on them. However, his voice elevates as he speaks certain lines and emphasizes certain words and thoughts. As Branagh says, “For who would bear the whips and scores of time,” his tone starts to get more confident and his delivery is faster, as if Hamlet is in a moment of quiet ecstasy, letting his anger pent quietly.

The setting of the soliloquy is unlike the other two versions posted. By today’s standards, the visuals of the sea in Olivier’s interpretation, though symbolic, is considered too tacky. The camera angle seems dull and static. Though it is not a problem with the actual performance, the Olivier version of the scene appears to be too outdated. The Alexander Fodor version does not have a clear setting. The white setting makes it seem as if Hamlet were floating in space which is not the case. It helps give the audience an idea that Hamlet is isolated but it also separates him from his actual setting. The images that pop up during the soliloquy of the dead man are intended to help the dying and sleep connection however it distracts the audience more than it does make the connection.

Branagh chooses an interesting camera angle for the scene. Shot in front of a mirror, Hamlet’s back as well as his front, making clear Hamlet’s body language and Hamlet’s lost, drifting thoughts. While such an angle is impossible in a play for all of the audience to see properly, the scene itself progresses as though it were an actual play without heavy reliance on visuals other than the Branagh’s own acting abilities. Hamlet clenches his fist “to take arms against a sea of troubles,” suggesting hostility. After he says, “When he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?,” he draws his rapier and points it in the general direction of the mirror, suggesting further hostility under his calm composure which can be interpreted as hostility toward himself, especially as he is walking towards the mirror with it in hand.

The score for the soliloquy does not overtake the scene which is definitely an advantage for such a momentous speech. The scene starts without music. It is not until after Hamlet speaks “[shuffling] off this mortal coil,” or casting aside a mortal needs. This makes the already eerie, resonating music seem as though it has an unnatural feel to it beyond the mortal world. The music becomes louder and has more feeling as Hamlet goes on as well as becoming more frequent. It ends as Hamlet’s soliloquy ends, suggesting that the music representative of his thoughts and emotions, dormant and slowly growing, dwelling on inconveniences of being alive.

What makes the Branagh rendition of Hamlet’s soliloquy the best of the three is how the script is not treated as if it were a movie but more as if it were a play. Rather than using movie techniques to convey more emotion and thought, it is shown through focusing on the advantages of good acting which, overall, creates more faithful rendition to what is intended for a Shakespearean drama.

Mario R. 5 said...

Out of the three movies I feel like the best performance of hamlet’s soliloquy in act 3 scene 1 to be or not to be was giving by Kenneth Branagh. The reason behind my choice is that I feel that hamlet talking into the mirror puts more action behind his words. The talking to the mirror seems to me a refection. He reflects on his thoughts to see what will be his next step in his great plan for vengeance.

“To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer; the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; or to take arms against a sea of troubles; And by opposing, end them.” (81 lines 55-59) these are the words spoken by hamlet as he slow walks towards a mirror that is place in a room that is surrounded with mirrors which gives the feeling of emptiness. Hamlet asks himself in this passage if everything that he is doing is wroth anything at all is there more pride in dealing with the heartache, the pain, and the suffering then there is to end it all. The mirror is just a way to ask the only person that hamlet trust and that’s himself.

Branagh delivery of the speech is not a loud screaming but a soft whisper tone which gives the illusion that hamlet is talking to himself it is a suspense builder. There could not have been a better person to have played hamlet because Branagh resembles hamlet and he portrays Shakespeare work the way that it seem to have been meant to be done. I believe that the tone of the play is suppose to be a suicidal but it’s more of question of, if I kill myself then would everything be easier rather then I going to kill myself. Which just add to the suspense of the story what will happen if he kill himself?

Which hamlet describes in the next few lines “To die, to sleep --; No more, and by a sleep to say we end; the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks; that flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation; devoutly to be wished. To sleep, perchance to dream – ay there’s the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come ;”( 82 lines 62-68) In these lines hamlet compare death to sleep saying that they are the same but death is end for it all sleep only prolongs it. He also asks himself what happens after death do you dream, and if you do what do you dream of. To die would be an achievement to hamlet it would end all that he haves to deal with. This version of the soliloquy best fits because it shows how hamlet is thinking; it shows him being in a really deep thought.

The next reason that this was the best version of the soliloquy was because later on in the play when hamlet starts to talk about why we would choose to work hard, and dread life over just dieing. We are scary of death and are fear of death makes us cowards is the answer giving by hamlet. (Lines 79 to 90) during these lines hamlet wipes out his sword and soft music starts to play and the music starts to grow as his tone does. The sword represents his thoughts about himself and how he does not have the will to care out of his vengeance because of his fear of what will happen after death. The music raises the tone of the soliloquy from soft and quite to an angry tone where he starts to hate on himself for not doing what he is suppose to do yet.

In conclusion I believe that the third version of hamlet soliloquy was the best because of Branagh acting level was amazing, also he looks like a hamlet to me. Finally the music and sword help to bring the whole soliloquy together as for the mirror I don’t believe it wouldn’t have been as good if he was talking to mid-air as is in the other versions.

Kathy L. 6 said...

Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1 by Kenneth Branagh portray Hamlet’s soliloquy the best of out of the other two. It captures Hamlet’s feelings and emotion throughout the play and it makes the audiences be able to feel it as well. The way he works the camera and zoom the image in make us get more curious about what’s going to happen next. Kenneth Branagh makes us understand Shakespeare’s writing even better by all the detail, movement, and tone that he decided to do.

He starts off by using the famous line of the play and that is “to be, or not to be, that is the question” (55). He is trying to determine if it’s better for him to be alive or dead. While he is saying this he is looking into the mirror in front of him, which show that he is alone and that he is talking/asking himself. Looking in a mirror can also be that he is trying to look for comfort because all he feels inside of him is pain and “heart-ache” (61). By the sound of his tone is seemed like if he doesn’t really care about his life but really deep inside he does. If he doesn’t care about his life he wouldn’t say “Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them” (59-60).

He want to seek for revenge and get back at King Claudius since he is the murder of his father’s dead. Kenneth Branagh show this by taking the sword out of his pocket really quick and then show a flashback at King Claudius’s face when he say “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely” (69-70). Then it slowly begin to zoom in his face and he look up and down at the sword when he think of “death” (77). The way he acts in this show that he will actually take actions to stop himself from feeling all these pain and heart-ache.

He doesn’t want to kill himself anymore. He beginning to put up his sword and put it against his reflection that is in the mirror. “But that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we known not of” (77-81). He is starting to realize more things about himself, peoples, and all the things that are around him.

Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1 by Kenneth Branagh, he portrays Hamlet’s soliloquy the best out of all of it. It shows many emotion and movement throughout the play. It also makes the audience feel it as well.