Alas, poor Yorick — you fellow of infinite jest and most excellent fancy — your dedication may be cut from the screenplay depending on who is directing the adaptation! “Hamlet,” widely considered to be William Shakespeare’s finest work, has inspired creative endeavors like David Foster Wallace book titles, other plays like Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead,” and poems by T.S. Eliot, and it’s also been made several times over into film adaptations.
Ethan Hawke, Mel Gibson, Kenneth Branagh, and Sir Laurence Olivier all brought their own joie de vivre to the role of the existential Danish prince, as did Vincent Price in “Theatre Of Blood” (not a “Hamlet” remake, but a chance for the golden-voiced actor to try his hand at Shakespeare). In this new supercut from the British Film Institute, each one of these roles is spliced together (specifically for the “To be or not to be” speech) into a dramatized megamix.
In Olivier’s 1948 version, much of the Bard’s original text was removed to save time, including the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This enabled the film to concentrate more on Hamlet himself, swapping lines for Olivier screen time. In Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 version, he did not remove any lines from the script; however, he updated the setting to the 19th century as opposed to the late 1500s-early 1600s, and portrayed Elsinore as a grand kingdom.
Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki adapted the play in his 1987 romantic film “Hamlet Goes Business,” which includes a man seeing his father’s ghost while working at a rubber duck company. (Creativity at its finest, folks.) Kaurismäki’s minimalist approach concentrates more on the character development than quoting the original text.
Who is your favorite Hamlet? Have a favorite line? Let us know in the comments below.