Saturday, July 30, 2011

III.i. Briefings - Branagh '96

An impatient and even angry Claudius enters, followed by the scene's other participants, including Ophelia who we easily forget is present during Rosencrantz & Guildenstern's debriefing (perhaps because the sequence is cut into separate scenes in some versions). But as written, she hears their report, which may well play into a certain anxiety or fear when she soon after meets Hamlet. The way Jacobi plays Claudius here, "why he puts on this confusion" definitely sounds like an accusation. Does he suspect him of faking? As this scene reveals, Claudius is guilty of something, so his paranoia may be responsible for his mistrust of Hamlet's madness, and his real reason for trying to find out what's causing it. All he gets is ambivalence from R&G, the pair going back and forth on whether Hamlet is mad or not, which to be fair, is the same back and forth presented by Hamlet himself. Faced with the King's frustration, which seems to "distract" him as much as Hamlet is "distracted" - the King and Prince are indeed each other's obsessions - the brown-nosing Rosencrantz takes implicit credit in the players' effect on Hamlet.

Meanwhile, the camera spins around the actors, a reference to their continued confusion, but also a way to create suspense for the coming violence. Ophelia, tellingly, is left alone under some stairs, stranded. She will be the victim of that violence, but for now is unseen, allowing Hamlet to embark on his famous soliloquy while she's as much a spy as Claudius and Polonius are. As for Gertrude, she is dismissed and we may ask ourselves why. Does Claudius mean to hide his findings from her? Is he protecting her from what he feels could be an explosive situation? There's a sense, especially in her looks, that she's being manipulated here, and as we'll find out later, Claudius already has his mind made up and he will brook no alternate interpretation.
Polonius, in earnest, chides himself by using the "we" that links him to Claudius. Both are parents, although Claudius is a false one, both biologically and morally. In the aside that follows, Jacobi makes Claudius a sympathetic figure, a good man who gave in to temptation and went wrong. This ambiguity is one of the reasons this version pleases me so much. We completely believe in his remorse, though it doesn't change a thing. It's something that is revisited in the confessional scene.

And the sense of urgency is maintained in this second part of the sequence as the characters must hustle to their places as Hamlet approaches. A shot of Ophelia standing behind a small section of wall reminds us of her presence and the stage is set for the most famous words in the English language.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

III.i. Briefings

We start the third Act with a scene that's again too long to do in one go. I've split it into three sequences: Briefings, in which Rosencrantz & Guildenstern brief Claudius and Gertrude on what they've "learned" from Hamlet, after which Ophelia is instructed to bump into the prince; the "To be or not to be" speech; and the Nunnery scene in which Hamlet meets Ophelia not at all by accident, while being observed by Claudius and Polonius. Let's take a look at that first sequence, with Shakespeare's words in italics, as usual.

SCENE I. A room in the castle.
KING CLAUDIUS: And can you, by no drift of circumstance,

Intriguingly, the scene starts in medias res. That "And" certainly infers that the briefing has been going on for a bit, and that R&G have yet to submit new information. This is interesting because for the rest of the sequence, R&G play for time, attempt to ingratiate themselves, and are generally desperate to please. Might we understand the King to be impatient with them already? If there's a part of the briefing we were not privy to, it strengthens both sides' motivations, and if Claudius is not yet impatient with them in the text, he soon will be at the next meeting.

Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
ROSENCRANTZ: He does confess he feels himself distracted;
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
GUILDENSTERN: Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.
QUEEN GERTRUDE: Did he receive you well?
ROSENCRANTZ: Most like a gentleman.
GUILDENSTERN: But with much forcing of his disposition.
ROSENCRANTZ: Niggard of question; but, of our demands,
Most free in his reply.

An example of R&G's double-speak. Each twin has his own strategy to please the Court. Rosencrantz doesn't want to rock the boat, and perhaps especially in Gertrude's presence, covers any intimation of Hamlet's wrong-doing with praise. Guildenstern, for his part, is more straightforward and honest, trying to do a good job for the King rather than play the sycophant.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Did you assay him?
To any pastime?
ROSENCRANTZ: Madam, it so fell out, that certain players
We o'er-raught on the way: of these we told him;
And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it: they are about the court,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.

Though film versions will often play with the time line of the play, Shakespeare clearly tells us here that Act III takes place the day after Act II. The Mouse-Trap is set to be played this night.

LORD POLONIUS: 'Tis most true:
And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties
To hear and see the matter.
KING CLAUDIUS: With all my heart; and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclined.
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
ROSENCRANTZ: We shall, my lord.


KING CLAUDIUS: Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,

This is a line that we hardly ever think about, but it could prove important. Hamlet has been sent for so that Ophelia can accidentally intercept him. This may have a role to play in any given actor's decision to play "To be or not to be" as a performance from Hamlet. Does he know he's being watched? The fact he's heading to a destination he's been called to could me he strongly suspects.

That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia:

"Affront" is an interesting word. It means "meet face to face", but it does playfully prefigure the "affront" of Hamlet's attack upon Ophelia.

Her father and myself, lawful espials,

Claudius, ever the politician, paints himself as a "lawful" spy. Whatever the King does is law, after all. This may also connect to his justification for killing Hamlet Sr. Did he think it the right thing to do at the time? Since we don't know much about Hamlet's father, except the praise filtered through the prince's own recollections and the rather nasty Ghost he has become, perhaps Claudius WAS justified. Or perhaps he just has the kind of mind that allows him to justify any action.

Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge,
And gather by him, as he is behaved,
If 't be the affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for.
QUEEN GERTRUDE: I shall obey you.
And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.
OPHELIA: Madam, I wish it may.


LORD POLONIUS: Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,
We will bestow ourselves.
[To OPHELIA] Read on this book;
That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,--
'Tis too much proved--that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.
KING CLAUDIUS: [Aside] O, 'tis too true!
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burthen!
LORD POLONIUS: I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.


Polonius' regret at having told Ophelia to spurn Hamlet brings out Claudius' own guilt. In effect, the audience confirms before Hamlet does that Claudius is a villain. Calling his words "painted" covers everything that went before with a veil of irony. Words like "lawful", "frankly" and his contentment over Hamlet's interest in theater may all be false. The aside retains a certain measure of ambiguity however. Claudius does not confess to murder here, we only believe he does because that's what Hamlet accuses him of and that's where our loyalty lies. Polonius accuses himself of meddling under the guise of piety and devotion, and so that's the only thing Claudius really admits to. As a politician, he too has sugared over his political manipulations with high-sounding words - his speech at the wedding banquet, for example, or even his false concern over Hamlet being actually motivated by a desire to keep his Queen happy.

Note also that Ophelia does not exit, and in a stage production, one should expect her to be lurking on stage during "To be or not to be" (unnoticed?). In films, greater distance can be placed between characters not locked to a relatively small space, but as we'll see, some chose to keep the stage directions as intended.

These are some of the issues facing actors and directors as we head into their interpretations of the sequence.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Classics Illustrated

The originalThe speech is mostly omitted from this adaptation as again, the First Player never moved Hamlet to pronounce it. What we keep is this explanation of why Hamlet asked for The Murder of Gonzago in the previous panel. As usual, this comic is almost entirely focused on plot rather than character. Note the educational note to explain the word "blench".

The Berkley version
"Now I am alone" is not spoken, but shown in the topmost panel:
Tom Mandrake's adaptation is much more concerned with mood and tries to retain as many of the famous lines as possible. Though the Player didn't get to do the Priam speech, Mandrake keeps most of the speech intact, cutting only specific references to the Player's performance. So in this version, Hamlet chastises himself for not having acted yet as a prologue to detailing his plan to catch the King's conscience. It's a well done sequence that resolves the question of when Hamlet thought of the Mouse-Trap smoothly, while keeping the self-doubt of the first part of the speech. In many performances, the second part of the speech is a reaction to the first. Hamlet accuses himself of inaction, so decides to act. Here, the first part explains the second, with Hamlet telling us why he has now chosen to act. Of course, a lot of this is thanks to the comics medium itself. Hamlet doesn't really go through a number of emotions and expressions, because the number of panels is limited. (In fact, there's a very interesting re-use of the same panel twice, as speech bubbles flow back and forth between panels. It's a surprising use of page lay-out, even more so because it works smoothly and doesn't create confusion in the reader.) The page is read far faster than the speech could be delivered, and though it is technically comprised of three "panels", the lack of borders turns it into a single moment. This all helps create a unity of idea behind Hamlet's words instead of the oft-played "turn" in the middle of the soliloquy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Slings & Arrows

The montage from Slings & Arrows Season 1, episode 6, cuts this speech down to a single line (the first). In the context of the show, the actors playing Hamlet has been told the play is just five speeches - all you need is to get those right - to help him get through it. Jack Crew's own insecurities are transposed into the performance, and with this awkward gesture and disdainful delivery, he tells us as much about the actor than he does about the character. Hamlet is a play about play-acting, and Slings & Arrows certainly knows how to blur the line further. At once, we see Hamlet's auto derision at being a bad actor (i.e. unable to act in a non-Thespian context) and Jack Crew's fear that he is not a proper actor either (coming from action films rather than classical theater). And it's done sparingly, with a single line. Of course, as with all things, it's a single line that works because we, the audience, know both Hamlet's and Jack Crew's contexts.

Friday, July 15, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Tennant (2009)

To motivate "Now I am alone", Hamlet rips out the room's surveillance camera, and yet, ironically, speaks that line to the subjective camera (to us). Of course, who are we? In the text, we're simply the Elizabethan audience and this is part of how we understand drama. It should need no more explanation than border panels in comics or spontaneous musical numbers on Broadway. Modern audiences may attempt to find meta-textual motivations, especially when the play is performed in a modern setting. Not unlike Jacobi, Tennant will turn to us many times during this speech, but unlike Jacobi, his Hamlet does not exist in the Medieval world of the play. And yet, Polonius also spoke to camera, so it is difficult to call us madness-induced visions or some unseen character. Elizabethan we must be, though since asides and soliloquies are meant to express thoughts rather than speech, surely even an Elizabethan audience would consider itself, somehow, part of the character itself, the part one speaks to when one speaks to oneself. And perhaps this trope is what made Shakespeare focus far more on character study than on plot.
Hamlet sits in a corner, reflective but also filled with apprehension and fear. He is plainly disturbed by the Player's performance, or rather what it reveals about himself. He is the "tardy son" who needs to be chided. If someone can fake it, why can't he actually do it? When he finally stands up, he walks around drunk with confusion. There is an intriguing gesture on "no not for a King", where Hamlet shows his bandaged hand, a symbol of his oath to avenge his father. You might remember Hamlet cut his hand in Act I, Scene 4. He then walks right up to camera, full frame, and asks if we think he's a coward. In that instance, we may well be invisible characters, visions to be shouted at, but as an Elizabethan audience too, we must be Hamlet himself. He's the one who accuses him of such things. After screaming for vengeance, he collapses.

From that prone position, he starts thinking aloud and seems to have the idea about The Mouse-Trap right before our eyes and then runs off. How do we reconcile this with the fact he has already asked to add lines to The Murder of Gonzago? As with Jacobi, we might be prone to think he is only now confiding in us a plan he had earlier, but that doesn't seem to be the performance here. Is it a realization insofar as it brings him out of his confusion, a sudden remembering of the plan? Possibly. Or did he ask for a play that connected to his current obsessions, and even wanted to add lines that paid tribute to his father and/or brought the play more in line with his obsessions, and only NOW realizes that could flush out the murderer? Ambiguous, but as good a theory as any, and now Hamlet runs off to make further tweaks. This is the turning point in the play, and with "To be or not to be" displaced to a point before this one, all delays are behind him. Again, the structural change is understandable, and might prevent audiences from squirming in their seats as the action gets ever more delayed, but I believe that was Shakespeare's intention, and many lines (like Polonius's criticism of the Player's speech) point to this intent.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Fodor (2007)

Hamlet's thought process via-à-vis this speech was almost all played out in his head during the previous sequence, through hallucinations that matched each of the Players with members of the Court. The effect the Players have on him is thus played rather than discussed (he doesn't unpack his heart with words). So the speech starts at "I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play", and because Horatio is present, those words are spoken to her. The soliloquy is turned into a (one-sided) conversation. Hamlet informs his friend of his plan, as he must do according to the text - Horatio is aware of the plan by the time the play rolls around - but there is no reaction from her (none are scripted, obviously). We simply fade to black.

Though we can of course mourn the loss of Hamlet's quest to better understand himself - these many cuts are part and parcel why William Belchambers is a weak Hamlet - we can still enjoy with interest the greater importance given to Horatio in the adaptation. She is present and even active through most of Act II, even though Shakespeare never included him/her in the text. And this element does work quite well. It makes the friendship more believable, and deepens the Horatio character. She is steadfast in her friendship to Hamlet, backing him up silently and thus, without judgment. Yes, it weakens Hamlet and any cuts made to the scenes where she is present seem to speak to some kind of self-censorship on his part (though the impression is only in the mind of the well-informed viewer who knows the text). Another reason it works as smoothly as it does is because the film takes place in the modern era, an era largely devoid of class issues. This Horatio may move about Elsinore, attend Hamlet and even face up to more highly placed "courtiers" (in the play's normal hierarchy, that is) without the social boundaries that would have prevented the "historical" Horatio from doing so.

Monday, July 11, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Hamlet 2000

2000's Hamlet does his soliloquy as voice-over, obviously depressed and watching an old movie (Rebel Without a Cause) in his bed, listlessly. In this version, film has replaced theater as Hamlet's interest, and indeed as a medium for the play (we will later have a film within a film, rather than a play within a film). No troupe of players arrives at Elsinore, but "Players" are continually arriving there (as they do in our own homes) via the television. The Player than moves Hamlet so is James Dean on tv, rather than an old friend (although this isolated Hamlet may think of old film actors as his only friends). Though the performance we see isn't particularly filled with the emotion Hamlet speaks of, the choice is nonetheless a good one. Like Hamlet, Dean was a self-destructive youth dead before his time, possibly by suicide. Rebel Without a Cause has an ironic connotation as well, since Hamlet most definitely has a cause but cannot bring himself to rebel. And so beyond the Player, we have his character, who rebels without cause, motivating Hamlet to finally act because he DOES. Hamlet starts to film the film for inclusion in "The Mouse-Trap".
Hamlet's films are made in editing and he need not call on a company of Players. As the speech continues, we see him at the editing table, crafting an experimental film from odd bits and pieces. Images include eyeless women (his mother), wilting flowers (surely a reference to Ophelia), lips on cheeks (adultery), a classic Hamlet with skull (an image of his father, though also disturbing because it makes reference to the play as if it exists in this world where its actions and words are repeated), and accusatory eyes. We'll have more cause to discuss these images and others as "The Mouse-Trap" actually unfolds.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Kline '90

Kline's Hamlet looks around, makes sure he is alone before saying so. He has a small stage to play with and makes good use of it, at first sitting amazed at the First Player's performance while also letting a certain measure of outrage build until the energy of it makes him jump up on it. Outage that the Player dared show more emotion than he has allowed himself to, outrage also directed inward for needing a reminder that he has lost his way. As his frenzy builds, he spins and gesticulates, miming the drowning of the stage with tears, for example. There is a pregnant pause after "Am I a coward?". Kline makes Hamlet really ask himself the question, not as rhetoric, but in such a way that it demands an answer. After thinking about it for a moment, he starts pointing to imaginary people, shadows that call him villain and such, before he finally collapses into a fetal position, overwhelmed.
We're reminded that we have seen this Hamlet snap in Act 1, and that he is not wholly feigning his madness. The guilt of not yet having avenged his father (perhaps compounded with that of not having prevented the murder in the first place and/or of having survived while a great man did not) translates into accusers only he can see, giving some reason behind the soliloquies. These are essentially a running conversation with Hamlet's demons (perhaps not so apart from those more "literal" devils he fears are trying to damn him). In a vision of the play where the Ghost is part and parcel of Hamlet's madness, his suspicious and ultimately murderous impulses are completely generated from within, psychologically. Only Horatio and the soldiers prevent us from taking this analytical route exclusively.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Zeffirelli '90

Zeffirelli cuts some 30 lines from the speech, most from the opening as the First Player now makes no impression with an impassioned speech of his own, so Hamlet cannot react to it. Instead, he starts with "Am I a coward?" and looking at his two faux-friends report to the King, he questions his ability to avenge his murdered father. Gibson's visceral, highly emotional performance removes the need for a trigger. In the play as written, Hamlet is shamed by the Player's performance. Here, the character's wild and intense emotions make shame bubble up without the need for it. Gibson's Hamlet often loses his temper and commits some small act of violence as words get caught in his throat. It happens again in this sequence and overwhelmed, he must leave the doorway lest he be heard. In a rage underscoring the litany of scripted insults, he vents his anger by beating his cloak on the ramp of the stairs he climbs, emerging at the top only slightly relieved of it, tears in his eyes. It cannot be said that Gibson is the most subtle of actors, so there is relatively little variation in his performance through this section, but it works within the context of his acute emotionalism.

Then we discover that Hamlet has NOT already ordered "The Murder of Gonzago". The whole idea of the "Mouse-Trap", he has before our eyes, eliminating that particular ambiguity. Through a window, Hamlet hears, then sees the Players unpacking and it slowly dawns on him this could be used to prove the King's culpability. As with Olivier's version, "To be or not to be" was moved to a point before this one, and so Hamlet's forward momentum will not brook delay now. This is closer to a normal movie structure, and it shouldn't be surprising given that both Olivier and Zeffirelli set out to make a Hamlet accessible to mass movie audiences. Elements that might test that audience's patience are dutifully removed wherever they can be.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - BBC '80

Jacobi plays the soliloquy AS a soliloquy, directly to camera, and this achieves at least two distinctive effects. The first is that it makes us confidants to the prince. The soliloquy, when it appears as inner thought, gives the impression of sudden realizations at odds with the fact Hamlet has already set his plan in motion with the Players. Jacobi reconciles this by creating someone (us) to talk to (which is, of course, how the theatrical play would often be presented). He is just now telling us what he thought and felt while watching the First Player's dramatic speech. Those realizations are being relayed after the fact and do not occur in real time. This goes a long way towards solving sequence issues in the play.

Not say the soliloquy is detached from the moment. Jacobi allows Hamlet's emotions to interfere with his confidential conversation. Sadness, grief and discouragement border on despair, and he lets his anger take hold of him when shouting "Who calls me villain?" at the walls. The name calling and cries of vengeance are enacted theatrically, with a wooden sword, as if part of the play to come. Is Hamlet here imagining some scene in "The Murder of Gonzago" we never get to see (as that play's action is aborted much as this one is delayed)?
This bit of business - which smooths over what can often turn into hysterics - brings Hamlet back on topic. Because he's imagining himself an actor, able to act the part written for him without guilt or remorse (characters are guiltless, but Hamlet is instead his own author), it reminds him of his plan, a plan he has already put in motion and is just now telling us about. With furtive eyes, Hamlet quite clearly thinks twice before letting us in on his secret. Here, a second effect is brought to bear. He makes US feel like "guilty creatures sitting at a play", an examination of conscience Shakespeare must have been aware he was asking of the audience. Murder is perhaps not in the common experience, but are there things in Hamlet that we have been guilty of? Do WE "blench" during the play? Which of our sins do we project unto the characters and which of their sins do we see ours reflected in? What makes us uncomfortable about the play? It is theater as moral lesson, though that lesson comes not from example, but from self-examination (which is, in many ways, the lesson of all mature Shakespearean characters).

Speaking of self-examination, one of Hamlet's most interesting reactions to his own words is the realization that he may be abused by a devil. It is very much like he WANTS it to be so. Yes that must be it! He wants the Ghost to be proven wrong, so repellent is murder - even for justice - to him. Hamlet goes a little mad on the last couplet, both crying and laughing as he says it. There is a strange spin on the word "king", something that brings the laughter to a halt. My take is that he seems to have accepted Claudius' place on the throne, calling him king instead of, say, uncle. Does his love for his father (as it relates to his thirst for revenge) have a kind of "whick or snuff", the very thing Claudius means to have Laertes renounce later in the play? As we continue to compare the two sons in the play, one too impetuous and the other too reflective, we might recognize how Jacobi has integrated the whole of the play's themes into every part of his performance. Laertes' passion will not abate, so the opposite Hamlet could, in time, have forgiven or forgotten his father's unproven murder.

Monday, July 4, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Olivier '48

As the Players leave, Hamlet looks on and pauses at their theatrical paraphernalia left on the raised throne, a bare stage that evokes the coming drama. Olivier then cuts the entire soliloquy, leaving only the last couplet ("The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!"). Not so strange an omission, since he cut the Player's emotional speech in the previous sequence. He looks excited at the prospect of what's to come, runs to the stage, and as the lights dramatically highlight him, shouts out the line with a flourish of both action and music.

Too large a cut? It's true that Hamlet can't compare himself to the Player, but he could still have kept the lines in which Hamlet explains his plan. But as he explains it again to Horatio later AND we see it for ourselves, there remains opportunity enough to make it clear to the audience. What we lose is Hamlet's thought process in coming up with it in the first place. That is played entirely internally instead, though we can't say the idea of Hamlet looking for "grounds more relative" is retained. But in Olivier's restructuring, Hamlet is past inaction (this scene now occurring AFTER "To be or not to be"), so it makes sense not to dwell on that aspect. At this point, Olivier wants his Hamlet to move forward, to finally take action rather than doubt himself, and his energy definitely goes in that direction. It'll be interesting to compare it with Zeffirelli's 1990 and Tennant's 2009 performances which also displace "To be or not to be" this way.

Friday, July 1, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Branagh '96

Another soliloquy done in a single shot that follows Hamlet around the room begins with the prince out of breath, having just run into his study to hide. According to Branagh's own commentary, Hamlet is exhibiting relief, because it's the first time he hasn't been watched in a long while. We're at the tail end of a long sequence in which Hamlet was accosted by Polonius, then by Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, and then my the Players, all the while feigning different levels of madness and knowing the King's spies were in the room with him. In Branagh's delivery "Now I AM alone." I also hear another idea - that Hamlet admits or recognizes he has no real allies against the King. Horatio has all but disappeared from the play at this point (though in this version, he is present during the Players' arrival), R&G have quite obviously betrayed him, and the whole court is arrayed against him. Even when we include Horatio in the equation, Hamlet must recognize that if his father is to be avenged, he must carry it out himself and no one can really help him except as unknowing tools (the Players).

The First Player's performance has left him dazed. He can't believe the amount of emotion the Player has been able to invoke. It's "bearded" him (shown him up). As Hamlet walks around the study, we see that it holds more than books and engravings, but also theatrical paraphernalia like musical instruments and masks. Hamlet, though a Renaissance Man, has a particular interest in theater. As he talks about drowning the stage with tears, he opens a toy theater model - doing so on the word "cleave" might have been too on the nose. At "Swounds", he gets angry and starts breaking things, getting rather strident, calling for vengeance before growing calmer and starting to strategize. It's in these transitions that Branagh is weakest, perhaps because he gets too riled up to believably come back down in so short a time. He's far stronger in the quieter parts, sustaining a simmering rage through the end of the soliloquy that is far more effective than the previous tantrum (his open disdain at the "words" he must unpack his heart with, for example).
At the end of the scene (for finally, Scene 2 is about to end), we zoom in on Hamlet's face, following him downward and through the theater playset where he drops a small paper king through a trap door. A link to the idea of the "Mouse-Trap", a visual for catching the conscience of the king, a nice aural sting to get us to the next scene, and yes, the basis for this blog's banner.