What are differences between Hamlet the Movie and the Play? Do these differences make the movie more or less effective?
The effectiveness of a film version of Hamlet is dependent on the quality of the adaptation and its desired audience. For example, Hamlet (2000) directed by Michael Almereyda, is an extraordinarily effective adaptation, as it brings the play into the twenty-first century to present its timeless themes in a contemporary setting. The Denmark Corporation takes the place of the country, and its CEO has been murdered by his brother-in-law, whom his widow immediately marries. Hamlet (Ethan Hawke) is a film student, not only a modern take on his scholarship, but also the perfect vehicle for him to make a film called "The Mousetrap" to screen for family and friends and gauge Claudius's guilt by his reaction. Ophelia, a fellow artist (she's a photographer), is portrayed very sympathetically as a tool manipulated by her father, underplayed to comic perfection by Bill Murray. Liev Schrieber's portrayal of Laertes makes quite clear the incestuous longing he feels for his sister. Surveillance cameras capture much of the play's intrigue, including the alternately forlorn and forbidding appearances of Hamlet's father's ghost (Sam Shepard).
Various film 'interpretations' have been made of Shakespeare's ''Hamlet'', including the one starring Mel Gibson and directed by Franco Zefferelli (1990), as well as other better known ones such as Kenneth Branagh's 1996 take and Laurence Olivier's much earlier version. Actors and directors always have creative freedom to to make some small changes and to 'interpret' various Shakespearean plays in thir own way, as per their own understanding/appreciation, even on stage, so its not unusual to see some adaptations on the screen too, that are somewhat 'difeerent'.
However, a fair amount of negative criticism was levelled at Franco Zeffereli's version starring Mel Gibson, chiefly on these three counts (1) unlike Zeffereli's earlier successful adaptation of ''Romeo and Juliet'' (1968) the setting and ambience of this ''Hamlet'' is seen as rather bizarre by movie critics and reviewers (b) Mel Gibson is criticised as an unlikely Hamlet, and in the view or reviewers, fails to do justice to the play, and to the very complex role of Hamlet-- he isnt an 'intellectual' actor, and more at home with simple ''Lethal Weapon'' type action movies, whereas the action and revenge theme in ''Hamlet'' is not simple and (c) Zeffereli has taken too many and too broad liberties with the original text of ''Hamlet''--changing, dropping, ading lines and scenes etc as he pleased-- and some critics/reviewers feel this ''Hamlet'' isnt ''Hamlet'' at all, but some sort of cinema parody of the play.