Friday, April 4, 2008
Act 3 Scene 1 Hamlet's Soliloquy: Video Critique
Laurence Olivier’s version of Hamlet’s soliloquy from Act 3 scene 1 is the best interpretation of the lines. Hamlet’s soliloquy begins with the line, “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” (line 55) in which he is basically questioning himself, if he should die or continuing living. In the video, Olivier is looking down at the ocean, standing high up on the edge of a mountain, while saying the same words from the first line. The effect that is given in the video is his vision starts to get blurry, where it gives you the impression that he is beginning to get dizzy, almost as if he were going to commit suicide. The music on the background also helped give some suspense to the lines as he spoke the words, which interpreted perfectly what Hamlet meant on the first few lines of the soliloquy. As Hamlet goes on, he intensively expresses his feeling saying, “..Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/ and by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep-” (lines 59-58) where Olivier is able to show every bit of emotion that the words describe. Also, while saying these words, Olivier closes his eyes and his tone of voice becomes more desperate. He closes his eyes and takes a knife from his pocket, pointing it towards himself while he repeats the words, “..end them. To die, to sleep-” which is the exact interpretation of dying.
Not only does Olivier point the knife towards himself to explain what the words in the soliloquy mean, but he also stops talking, and the words seem to be coming from his thoughts in his mind, and not from his mouth. This passes on the feeling that Olivier is deeply confused, and intensively hurt. Olivier’s facial expression shows the true meanings of the words on lines 60-63, “No more, and by a sleep to say we end/ the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks/ That flesh is heir to ; ‘tis a consummation/ Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep-”
As the scene goes on, Olivier still holding the knife in his hand, once again brings it towards his chest, watching it as it approaches his body, while interpreting this lines, “ When he himself might his quietus make/ With a bare bodkin; who would fardels bear.” (lines 74-75) In these lines, Hamlet means that he would end his burdens (fardels) with a bare dagger (bodkin), meaning when or if he killed himself. Then, after a few lines, Olivier comes to a part where he drops his knife, and watches it as it goes down into the ocean, while saying Hamlet’s lines, “Thus conscience does make cowards [of us all],” meaning that when he realizes that he was almost going to kill himself, or when he became conscientious of his action, Hamlet says that it makes him or everyone a coward, which is when or why Olivier drops the knife.
At the closure of the scene, Hamlet’s tone seems to quiet down, as if he realized that he did not have the courage to commit suicide and that he would just have to deal with his problems, which is also when Olivier, while repeating the last few lines, gets up from the rock and walks away in a daze. All in all, the tone of Olivier’s voice helped describe the words and the meaning of the lines from the soliloquy. Also, the music in the background created an adrenaline affect when Hamlet would talk about actually dying, or killing himself. Olivier’s facial expression of being in a complete daze also helped interpret Hamlet’s confusion and his inner conflicts with all the problems he is going through.