Intriguing Camera Work in Zeffirelli’s Film, Hamlet Essay

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Intriguing Camera Work in Zeffirelli’s Film, Hamlet

The three-dimensional camera work of Zeffirelli in Hamlet emphasizes the surveillance methods and intrigues carried out by the forces of good and of evil.

In the opening scene, Elsinore Castle looms over the soldiers and people standing outside. The camera angle forces one to look up at the dark castle; then the camera surveys the people, revealing that the evil from witnhin the castle is not self-contained but looms over and affects everyone in Denmark.

Inside the castle during the funeral, Claudius, the man who exemplifies evil, is focused on several times by the camera. The first picture of him is from a short distance, minimizing his presence. As the funeral proceeds,
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The closeup of him shows that he will be the one to help make things right because he is in a position to see the things that are wrong.

Hamlet is again given the vantage point over those who seek to slander him when the camera looks up at him and then down at Ophelia and her father below in III, i. The camera then gives a very distinct distant show of Ophelia and her father from the view of Hamlet, revealing that he is aware of what is taking place and that nothing is hidden from his view. He will not be deceived. In the next instance, the camera moves back to where Hamlet was, as Polonius looks up; Hamlet, however, has disappeared, and Polonius is none the wiser.

In an earlier scene, Hamlet is on top of the castle, looking down through what appears to be a vent hole in the ceiling, at Claudius's dinner. The camera focuses close on Hamlet and then down on the scene that he is looking at--a feast where the "smiling villain" and his queen are having a good time. This occurrence before Hamlet sees the ghost shows that he is appalled at the drunken revel. Similar shots are shown again after he has learned the truth about his father's death. A closeup of Claudius shows that he is able to have a merry time without any pangs of guilt over having killed his own brother. While the camera looks down from Hamlet's viewpoint, it appears that all the merriment is captured

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