The purpose of the first scene of Hamlet is primarily to arouse the audience’s interest. It is done so by the appearance of the apparition to Horatio, Bernardo and Marcellus. Horatio, a close friend to Hamlet, has been called upon to prove Bernardo and Marcellus true to their word regarding the ghost’s appearance for the third night in a row. In the Branagh version, Horatio is most effective in the creation of suspense due to his disbelief, thus resulting in increased tension amongst the audience.
One of the most effective contributions to the suspense in the Branagh version of Hamlet is the visual setting. This scene was filmed to appear as outside the castle grounds in Denmark. It was cloudy and visibly cold, which heightened the awareness of conflict in the viewer. The weather appeared a threat, which also created suspense. This setting proved to be more eerie than the Olivier and Gibson films in that the gasping wind was heard and that the men were portrayed not only to be uncomfortably cold, but also fearful for what was to come.
One factor that was perhaps lacking in the Mel Gibson version that was beneficial in the Branagh version was its exact use of text. The scene would have been more effective in the Gibson version had the characters used the entire written script. Because in Shakespeare, each line has its own significance in relation to the play, excluding lines in the film is taking away from Shakespeare’s work. Including each stanza, as in the Branagh version would be more successful in the complete demonstration of suspense in the first scene.
Perhaps the most significant contribution however was the appearance of the ghost of King Hamlet and the special effects used to portray him. Where the Mel Gibson version was lacking in the special effects used to portray the ghosts, the Olivier and Branagh versions were excellent. Both Olivier and Branagh used the atmosphere of the scenes to present the appearance of the ghosts. In the Mel Gibson...