Laertes in the Play and Movie Version of Hamlet
In the 1990 version of Hamlet starring Mel Gibson, Laertes is portrayed in a very poor light. He seems to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. At certain points during the written play, Laertes's actions may be taken entirely differently than they are conveyed in the movie. In the film version of Hamlet, all of Laertes's negative aspects are much more pronounced.
As presented in the movie, Laertes is a sore loser. The text version of the play has Laertes simply say "No" after Hamlet scores his first hit. In the movie, Laertes shows much more emotion. His anger at Hamlet is obvious, and his frustration at being hit is evident, as he screams in protest to the mediator's call. Then, to show what a poor sport he is, he lunges at Hamlet when Hamlet turns his back to Laertes. Laertes didn't have enough courage or faith in his own fighting ability to take a fair shot at Hamlet and succeed. After the second hit, Laertes demonstrates much the same emotions, screaming in frustration and anger. In the text of the play, Laertes agrees with Claudius to fight Hamlet and use poison on his blade to kill him. As presented in the text, Laertes killing Hamlet will be enough for his revenge. However, in the movie, it is obvious through his actions and mannerisms that it is not enough for Laertes to merely kill Hamlet, but he has to make Hamlet look like a fool while he is doing it. That is why Laertes becomes so upset in the movie when Hamlet gains a hit; Laertes wanted to discredit Hamlet before he killed him.
Laertes makes another unfair move in the film – he wounds Hamlet while Hamlet is on the floor with his back turned. In the text, Laertes wounds Hamlet during their fight...
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...e text, there are several differences between them that are based on interpretation. These differences are notably evident in the character of Laertes during the last scene. While his dislike of Hamlet is obvious in the text version of the play, Laertes demonstrates much stronger feelings towards Hamlet in the movie through his actions. Other aspects of Laertes's character, such as his cowardice and deviousness, are manifest through his actions and are thus more obvious in the movie. The rearranging of lines and events also portray Laertes in a much more negative light in the film version. In all, the film version of Hamlet allows the character of Laertes to be more complete, and he is developed as more of a villain in the movie than he appears to be in the text. This development occurs mainly through his actions, since the words were the same that Shakespeare wrote.
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