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HAMLET IN FILM: ANALYZING THE COSTUMES Costumes are one of the most noticeable aspect of mise en scene.

To the audience the actor and the costume he wears is merged into a single entity-the character. Costume includes both make up and wardrobe choices that are used to convey a characters personality or status and to signify the differences between characters. Costumes is an important part in signifying the era in which the film is set and also helps in establishing the location of the play. It also aids the actor in presenting his character by indicating his age, social position and economic status. In the actual play Hamlet, Shakespeare makes minimal reference to the clothes worn by the characters in the play. However early on in the play we do realize that Hamlet wears an all black get-up that seems to be annoying his mother. Well hamlet is wearing an inky cloak as he is mourning for his dead father. But hamlet is the only one in the royal court whos still grieving. So hamlets black attire set him apart from everyone lse just like his grief makes him an outsider in the cheerful court of the new King Claudius. Later on hamlet decides to play the role of an antic or madman and adjust his costume accordingly. This is ophelias description of Hamlet. Hamlet banks upon the convention that ones physical attire is a reflection of ones state of mind and so makes himself appear disheveled inorder to convince Ophelia that hes lost his mind and his mad for her love. This is a very famos scene and the scene in which Hamlet deviates from his all black attire to diss=hevelled appearance. This is the scene in which Ophelia tells Polonius of hamlets apparent madnesss. It is an interesting one, not only for the varying ways in which it has been staged but also for the way in which the scene sets up some intriguing parallel and ironies. Zeffirelli in his version decides to eliminate the middle man, as it were. He eschews Ophelias speech and instead presents us with the event itself. The scene is quite effective in giving us an idea of what is going on in Hamlets head. Branagh of course just does the text. Working the straight text makes the scene a showcase for the person playing Ophelia; she has to not only convey hamets appearance and action in such a way that the audience can understand what is going on his head. One of the reason Shakespearan plays like Hamlet is still a great script to adapt to the screen is because of the minimal description of the costumes. Definitely when Shakespeare first wrote the play his sole intent was to be staged on the play. Shakespeare would never even have though about something like films. But as every director has their own vision for the adaptation, Shakespeares play by not emphasizing much on the costumes and going into detail allowed the director to explore his imagination and make the hamlet adaptation according to them. The costumes and the era in which the play is et is all left onto the directors imagination. Costuming is not as much as a requirement for a good film as it is a prospective component of period pieces of which Shakespeares Hamlet is one.

When it comes to the realism of the costumes zefirellis version is the superior of the two. The late 15th century encompassed some ostensibly superfluous clothing for the Danish. From Queen Gertrudes flowing gowns to King Claudius royal robes the reality of it all is striking. The characters are literally dragged down by their costumes; when Ophelia descends into madness her stained gown is more than just a excessive prop but a part of her very character. The proficiency of the costume design in Zefirrellis adaptation is enhanced by the added authencity of his production design. Unlike branaghs version, zefirrelli sets his film in a typical medieval time period pertaining to the authencity of the shakespearan play. The king and queen are seen in emelished outfits where as Ophelia is dressed as a grungy maid . these costume varieties allow the audience to actually understand the time period and how it effected how each character presented themselves. This version maily focused on the different social classes within the play and what role they played. Particularly the costumes were used to symbolize the dissimilar lifestyles betwee hamlet and Ophelia. This adds to the overall movie and allows the viewers to understand why Laertes thinks its a bad idea that Ophelia pursues a relationship with such a powerful prince. In Zefirrellis version although the costume is very basic, black or white garments are often used to symbolically indicate good or evil. The costumes including all the colours of the outfits worn by the actors ads to the whole scene. Early in the play we see Claudius in gold and tan garb. Both Gertrude and Ophelia appear in white. Traditional associations with these colours such as innocence for white and earthiness for tan, may be relevant to the personality or attitude of these characters. At the dinner revelry going on below, Claudius and Gertrude wear shades of red, while Ophelia appears in pale blue. If red suggests lustiness, does this imply that Claudius and Gertrude have a passionate marriage? Does it suggest they were passionate before their marriage and perhaps before her earlier marriage ended? And does the pale blue reflect Ophelias emotional state of mind- her following her fathers wish and trying to forgot her love for hamlet. Throughout the whole play Hamlet quite rarely deviates from his black cloak and when he does do that there it has a significance. During the Mousetrap hamlet is dressed in a dark red attire. As dark red in commonly associate with will power and anger.. does hamlets costume in that scene reflect his vigour to expose the antagonist, his uncles horrendous deed but why does Hamlet shed the red once Claudius has been exposed? In contrast to the costumes worn by the actors in the zeffirrelli version, Branagh chose a Victorian era costuming. Costume designer alex Byrne took advantage of the imprecise historical period to devise some exceedingly becoming gowns and outfits for the women and dressed the men in some of the most attractive military uniforms of the last century. In branaghs 19th century version any part of the womens costume was likely to be decorated with braid, embroidery, puffing or it might be encrusted with pearls, jewels or trimmed with lace. Mens clothing like that of women was gorgeous with colour and ormentation. The many part of male attire contributed to the ornate and colorful effect of the ensemble. Even the so called maids like Ophelia were dressed in nice wealthy oufits totally contrasting

Zefirrellis version. In my opinion I think this was a deliberate choice by the director to allow the viewer to focus on the storyline rather than the different social classes. Also similar to the use of costumes in zefirrellis version, branaghs version too used costumes to symbolize certain properties in the scene. For instance when we are introduced to Queen Gertrude, she was wearing a white dress to reflect her pureness, this enhances the atmosphere of the scene and gives the us the false impression that all is well in the cheerful court of Denmark. But amidst all the celebration of the newly wedded couple the camera pans to the side of the court where we see hamlet for the first time dressed in an entire blak suit mourning the loss of his father. Branaghs version though does not deliver on the authenticity of its costuming. His Hamlet is an unaltered adaptation of the play but the actors are draped in garments more appropriate for a late 19th century piece. Branagh uses colour to illustrate celebration and grief, clothing as a means of character development and the characters positioning to propel the scene. The mourners are positioned at the top of the balcony dressed in black to indicate their mourning for the death of hamlets father. The top of the balcony also appears to be black due to the lakc of lighting and abundance of dark coloured clothing. On the bottoms of the balcony are the people dressed in colourful Victorian clothing celebrating Claudius and gertrudes wedding. The bottom of the balcony appears colorful due to the open space and vibrant and colourful clothing. Claudiuss stature as a king is depicted through his medals, sadh and royal clothing which are the attire of king in the Victorian age. Gertrude is dressed in a white wedding gown and weil to indicate that she is getting married. She is also wearing a crown, which shows that she still remains the queen. The soldiers positioned in front of the crowd on the ground level of the balcony show that this is a royal event. They are dressed in white and colorful attire instead of black because they are now the supporters and soldiers of the current king, Claudius and are celebrating his marriage. Branaghs positioning of the people in the great room is very effective in showing the difference between the loyal supporters of the late king hamlet and those of the current king Claudius. He uses the mourners to show that the late king hamlet has loyal supporters who place his death predominantly over the marriage of Claudius. The people celebrating Claudius and gertrudes wedding are used to sho the hypocrisy of those now supporting Claudius because he is the current king.