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Depiction of "Rottenness" in Michael Almereyda's Hamlet

  • Date Submitted: 10/08/2010 10:05 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 63.1 
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“Rottenness” in Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet
Almereyda’s version of this timeless play speaks to rottenness in more subtle ways than extravagant. Since the script was largely the same as the original play (some things taken out, but nothing added), Almereyda had to rely on aesthetics, performances, and music to add the feeling of rot to the film.
The opening shot of the film has us looking up into a dark city from the back seat of a vehicle. Already, Almereyda is working to create a sense of darkness, or doom. In fact, most of the shots we see of the city are darker, and from a low angle. Putting the shots from a low angle accomplishes giving a sense of foreboding, or a sense that something is bigger than oneself. Another example is the scene that takes place directly after Claudius gives his first speech. Hamlet is walking down the street and talking with Gertrude and Claudius. It is obvious that he is still saddened; his dialogue says this. However, it is further emphasized by the fact that it is shot from a lower angle, and it is also a dynamic shot composition (the camera does not have them straight on from a low angle, or even profile, but diagonal, thus dynamic).
Another strong example of strong camera work and shot composition is when Hamlet is giving the famous “to be or not to be” monologue while walking through blockbuster. It is a tracking shot that that starts low and ends level with him, with he in the center the entire time, and multiple “Action” genre cards very obviously running along the rows of movies on either side of him, with cutaways to a movie playing in blockbuster that has a fire ablaze. This does great in materializing Hamlet’s anger and further emphasizing that rottenness that has taken place.
The colors and the lighting also play a large part in emphasizing the feeling of rot. The lighting, for the most part, is very contrasting. Shots either have very flat lighting, or very chiaroscuro lighting. There’s not too much in between....

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