is hamlet a political play? : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

Zefferelli said "Who needs the political thing? who need Fortinbras, who needs Norway. Is he right is saying Hamlet is not a political play

-- pat hemming (, April 26, 2000


Politics may not at first glance seem all that important to Hamlet as a play, and it is true that the major points are made by Hamlet and the other major characters, not by Fortinbras or his actions. But, without the support of political ties, Hamlet would not carry the same depth as it does. The story and characters cannot exist in a political vacuum. Not only do the politics provide setting and background, they also help with characterization and make the story relevant to its outside world. For example, when the ghost of the King visits Horatio and the guards in the first scene, Horatio remarks that once the old King had slain the old Fortinbras and, in victory, taken some of his lands. He goes on to tell that the young Fortinbras is gathering up an army to (he presumes) possibly reclaim this land. Is this why the ghost is roaming? Without this apparently unstable political situation, the ghost may not have received the same attention. In addition, the reader/audience would not have been provided with this important information about the old King's heroic character which so sparks Hamlet's admiration (which has plenty to do with Hamlet's actions later on). It is interesting at the end of the play that right before he expires, Hamlet bestows the rights to the land on Fortinbras. They are both sons who have lost their fathers for political reasons: the old King killed Fortinbras' father for the land, and Claudius murdered the old King for power. Political power, that is. This ending is in many ways a convoluted reflection of the events of the past. It would be wrong to say that Hamlet is not a political play---the lust for power is a driving force in it, as is the need for political control of Denmark, as King, that sets it all in motion.

-- e maguire (, February 01, 2001.

Zeffirelli owes me 8 bucks for his pile of dreck Hamlet. He casts talented actors in what is probably the best play ever written in the English language and carefully constructs the biggest blop of poo ever to carry the name "Hamlet". He does a serious disservice to all those poor high school students whose first exposure to Hamlet is his "creation". Who needs Fortinbras? Who needs Norway? Who needs the political thing? It would seem Zeffirelli also thinks, "Who needs a story line, character development, or a director who gives a rat's backside? I've got a script for free!"

OK, for those of you who liked Z's movie, I am sorry if I offended you there. You see, I was one of those high school kids whose first exposure to Shakespeare was through one of Z's "creations". It was his R&J and it was so awful that it convinced me that Shakespeare was just another very dead guy who was not relevant, interesting, or even tolerable in my life. Reading it aloud in class cemented this belief so strongly, that for years "Shakespeare" equalled "dull as dirt". If it weren't for Branagh's Henry V, I may never have known the truth. Shakespeare is cool. Hamlet rocks. Now I can read plays that I've never seen and laugh out loud. Zeffirelli nearly took that from me.

So, while this wasn't intended to be a rant against Mr. Franco Zeffirelli, you all now know where I stand. Zeffirelli evil. Branagh good. Zeffirelli choose to do Shakespeare so he not have to pay writer. Branagh choose to do Shakespeare because he love it so.

Hamlet rocks.

-- Mikken (, February 07, 2001.

Gees Mikken!: you know I quite liked it when Mel lept on the table scattering the scrolls; and I thought the casting of 17 and 15 year old leads in Z's R&J was inspired. But the music sucked.

HAMLET encompasses many things, politics included, but of course not exclusively. Fundamentally I think the key to HAMLET is the Hamlet's line, I.ii.186f, "He was a man. Take him for all in all,/ I shall not look upon his like again." (Hamlet has received a humanist education, and this is probably the highest praise of his father he can put into words.) HAMLET is primarily about a man, Hamlet, and further, about the progress of his thoughts, ideas, princoples and beliefs more than his action. Lord be thankit for the sensitivity of Kenneth Branagh in bringing that to t

-- catherine england (, October 01, 2001.

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