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...
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