Franco Zeffirelli

T. it.: Amleto. Sog.: dalla tragedia omonima (1603) di William Shakespeare. Scen.: Christopher De Vore, Franco Zeffirelli. F.: David Watkin. M.: Richard Marden. Scgf.: Dante Ferretti. Mus.: Ennio Morricone. Int.: Mel Gibson (Amleto), Glenn Close (Gertrude), Alan Bates (Claudius), Paul Scofield (il fantasma), Ian Holm (Polonio), Helena BonhamCarter (Ofelia), Stephen Dillane (Orazio), Nathaniel Parker (Laerte). Prod.: Dyson Lovell per Icon Productions. 35mm. D.: 135’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

For Hamlet, I needed a new and unexpected icon to entice young audiences… Mel Gibson, who was known for his action films, was the most daring and unlikely of choices. I had liked him ever since Gallipoli. He had begun his career as a stage actor in Australia. He had also played Romeo and later told me that he considered my film one of the most decisive moments in his formation as an actor… This tragedy has often been presented as the ultimate example of existentialism, weighing it down with all sorts of philosophical implications. I wanted to return to the original source: jealousy and vengeance. Shakespeare wrote a real historical drama, which is very rich, intricate and moving: the murder of a king by his own brother, with the complicity of the queen, that   is later discovered by their son. It was a tragedy about vengeance, a family saga narrated like an epic piece of history, packed with events and action. This is what originally riveted audiences at the Globe Theatre, making them sit through five hours of Hamlet.
The preparation for Hamlet lasted over a year… Every time I start working on something new, it is as if I am creating a new life. And even though every piece of theatre or cinema is different, with its own unique qualities and characteristics, they are all drawn from the same well: my culture, experiences, intuitions, and research. I saw Hamlet not as an introverted prince, but rather as an ambitious, cynical, and very intelligent young man who had been raised to be an aristocratic “superman”, the best at everything. He was wound tightly, always wanting to go further, to break through boundaries that he was not even fully conscious of. Gibson was perfect for the part and the way that I wanted to bring the character back to life.

Franco Zeffirelli, Autobiografia, Mondadori, Milan 2006

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courtesy of Park Circus