Hamlet: Film Adaptation Assignment

ENG4U – Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1
“To Be or Not To Be”
Hamlet: Film Adaptation Assignment
“In the appreciation of a work of art or an art form, consideration of the receiver never
proves fruitful. […] No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder,
no symphony for the listener. Is a translation meant for readers who do not
understand the original? Yet any translation that intends to perform a transmitting
function cannot transmit anything but information—hence, something inessential.
This is the hallmark of bad translations.”
--Walter Benjamin
“The Task of the Translator”
A prompt is a cue to catalyze other thoughts; it is only a starting point (think of the
verb “to prompt”). Some prompts are more of a thought-provoking tool than a
demonstration of what you know or have mastered. They are a way to think through an idea
in an organized and systematic manner, affording yourself the opportunity to take some
academic risks and to propose an idea you might not venture to use in a longer essay.
By comparing and contrasting the different versions of the Act 3, Scene 1 soliloquy,
you are asked to write approximately 500 words in response to one or more of the following
“prompts.” Make sure you analyze the specific point(s) in context but also use it to
understand, shed new light on, or connect to themes, issues, or characters in the play as a
whole. Your one topic may lead you to discuss issues implied in another prompt. That’s
fine. Just be sure to draw thematic conclusions, use specific textual evidence, create a title,
and avoid restating what your readers already know.
Consider specifically: a) what is gained and lost in various film adaptations of Hamlet
b) the impact of director’s choices and c) the differences in the characterization of Hamlet
You will turn in this piece of writing and it will, ideally, show me how you have
wrestled with a complex scene.
Setting and Scenery
Speech Delivery (Body Language, Intonation, Scene Blocking)
Word Play
Internal Conflict
Appearance as Different from Reality
Thoughts and/or Actions
ENG4U – Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1
“To Be or Not To Be”
Hamlet “To Be or Not To Be” Soliloquy
Laurence Olivier (1948)
Mel Gibson (1990)
Royal Shakespeare Company (2004)