Ranagh’s Hamlet: the Appealing Madness of Ophelia

266 Words2 Pages
BMadness is a state of mind that is often explored in William Shakespeare’s dramas in order to evoke a reaction—often of sympathy or pity—from the audience. While this madness often ends in an undesirable manner, none is more tragic and appealing than Hamlet’s Ophelia. While her lines are set in Shakespeare’s original script, her actions must be directed to achieve the appropriate response from the audience; in the 1996 version of Hamlet, directed by Kenneth Branagh, Ophelia’s deranged state of mind is portrayed in such a way that entices the audience and brings them to tears. The slightly modern nineteenth century setting acts as a common ground between Shakespeare’s Elizabethan era and today’s modern world. Branagh’s decision to leave the script exactly as Shakespeare wrote it highlights to complexity of the story and adds to the appeal. His stage direction and added scenes add to Ophelia’s character, making her of more interest and depth. Ophelia’s infamous mad scene in act four, scene five of the 1996 version of Hamlet, Kenneth Branagh’s use of the nineteenth century setting, his verbatim script and the unique portrayal of Ophelia he creates all contribute to the intense appeal for the modern audience of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. As the camera opens on her mad scene, the audience is immediately taken aback while watching Ophelia through a trapdoor from a room above as she screams and throws herself into the walls of a padded room, bound in some nineteenth century semblance of a straightjacket. Branagh’s choice of setting, Winston Churchill’s childhood home of Blenheim Palace, offers
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