To Be Or Not To Be Renditions

To be or not to be – Kenneth Branagh

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Rose: The opening lines weren’t a grand a triumphant declaration, but rather a quiet and honest reflection on whether life is worth living.

Bud:  I was intrigued by the idea that the entire soliloquy took place in front of a mirror. This particular device gave the feel that Hamlet was being faced with a facet of his own consciousness who was convincing him of the ills of life; a sort of Gollum/Sméagol situation.

Thorn: Personally, I thought the soliloquy lacked action. I don’t think that Hamlet needed more gesticulation, however an enhanced change of facial features as he progresses through the speech would make the scene more visually interesting.

This rendition of the soliloquy was interesting to watch, however I don’t think it stepped far enough away from the original setting and story of Hamlet. I really have an appreciation for artists that can reimagine Shakespeare and put the characters in a new setting, like Baz Luhrmann did with his interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.


Hamlet – Hawke – To be or not to be…

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Rose: Whoa. Granted, I have about zero context for why Ethan Hawke is walking through a movie store with a weird hat on, but wow. His delivery was exactly what I had imagined when reading the soliloquy, and something about watching him wander through the stacks along with the tone of his voice added to the overall hopelessness and desperation that I thought was evident in the speech. I also loved the fact that the setting was in a library in modern day times.

Bud: There was a clear shift and transformation of the actor’s tone, which contributed to the progression of thoughts in his head. It was much more varied than the first delivery.

I really liked this interpretation. It had the delivery I would try to capture in my own project, as well as the distancing from a traditional Hamlet. No thorns here.


Tennant- To Be Or Not to Be

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Rose: The absolutely breathtaking pause between the deliverance of the first few lines, and the rest of the speech. It made me as the audience hang on those first few words and have their meaning sink in.

Bud: The overall cadence of Tennant’s delivery differed from the rest of the speeches I watched, and I appreciated the variation. Definitely something I would want to emulate in the project.

I noticed that everything Tennant was saying was reflected in his eyes. Desperation, hopelessness, and touch of lunacy were all evident across his facial expressions and in his eyes, and in my opinion this made for the best delivery. The setting and time period were, from this one clip, indiscernible. What I appreciated about this was that the soliloquy didn’t use setting or time period as a crutch to make the scene more visually appealing. The speech stood on it’s own, and throughout watching the clip I never asked or wondered what the context was, I was completely absorbed in Tennant’s delivery. This was my favorite clip for this reason, and I hope that I can bring aspects of this interpretation into my own project.