This thesis discusses similarities and differences presented in four film adaptations of Hamlet in order to show how film and fiction relate to each other and to show how directors interpret the play. Further, I consider the relationship between narrative theory and film theory as well as the difference between drama theory and film theory. The former is different from the latter and this matters when it comes to film adaptation of dramas as opposed to novels.
The directors, Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, Franco Zeffirelli, and Michael Almereyda emphasize different thematic issues of Hamlet in their adaptations. Olivier, as well as Zeffirelli, regard loneliness and the mother-son relationship as the main issues, while Branagh focuses on the relationships of Hamlet and Ophelia, and Hamlet and the Ghost, as well as stressing the importance of Fortinbras. Almereyda explores the theme of loneliness and Hamlet's relationship to Ophelia. The scenes compared all dramatize the theme of revenge, Hamlet's main theme, and thus they function as tools for my analysis.