Describe the setting, costumes, lighting, music, and action in the final scene of Zeffirelli's Hamlet, starting from Hamlet and Laertes's fencing match.

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Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990) alters much of the play's original dialog to adapt it to a more modern, cinematic style. However, unlike Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Hamlet in 1996, Zeffirelli employs sets and costumes that are historically accurate to the time and setting of Shakespeare's original work.

The scene begins with Hamlet and Laertes being dressed in light metal armor. Rather than using foils like in the play's text, Zeffirelli has both men using Arming swords. These swords are more substantial than a fencing foil and have a pointed tip.

It appears that Zeffirelli directed Mel Gibson to portray Hamlet in this scene with more comedic traits. Before the fencing match officially begins, Hamlet raises the sword over his head and then tips forward quickly, acting as if he cannot bear the weight of the sword. The onlookers laugh, which encourages Hamlet to continue to jest throughout the fencing scene. At one point, after Laertes and Hamlet have exchanged several blows, Hamlet pretends to be overwhelmed and haphazardly falls to the dais where Gertrude and Claudius are sitting. He smiles at his mother to reassure here and then pretends to get dizzy when he is back on the fencing floor. An attendant comes to help him, and then Hamlet pretends to sneeze in his face.

By injecting additional humor into Mel Gibson's acting for this final scene, Zeffirelli appears to be attempting to juxtapose the lightness of the comedy with the darkness that is looming over all of the primary characters in the scene.

After the men exchange several points, they become hot and remove their armor and begin to fence in their linen shirts. This wardrobe change results in both men being more vulnerable to injuries and is what ultimately enables Laertes to wound Hamlet and for Hamlet to then wound him in return. Both men were wounded by the same blade—Laertes' poisoned sword.

The music in Zeffirelli's adaptation of Hamlet is very minimal and is faithful to the musical queues that are listed in the original folios. For example, trumpets are blared to indicate when the two men are prepared to begin fencing. There is no other music in the scene. Otherwise, Zeffirelli uses the sound of the combat and the dialog to control the mood in collaboration with the physical action.

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Franco Zeffirelli's Hamletbuilds to the final scene where he uses a mixture of elements to manipulate the emotions of his audience. As Laertes and Hamlet move through their fencing match, their costumes change. They begin by suiting up in chain mail shirts. As the threat escalates, the battle costumes and weaponry changes as well. They put on heavy armor and helmets as Claudius poisons the drink stating "this pearl is thine. Here's to thy health", and entices Hamlet to drink as well. The weapons increase as they move on in the match to two swords just as Gertrude drinks to Hamlet's success and poisons herself. At this moment it should also be noted that Hamlet and Laertes are both stripped down to their bare shirts making them more vulnerable to the two swords the opponent wields, one of which is poisoned. As Gertrude realizes what has happened the music and sound change dramatically. The voices of the fray fade in the back as the ominous music builds. This leads to the contrasting silence which includes a faint echo in the dungeon like setting, that ensues after Hamlet has killed Claudius and the crowd stares in shocked horror as they watch Hamlet follow the others and die. 

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