Friday, May 9, 2014

Disparate Gazes: Camera Styles in Hamlet

A security camera’s viewfinder frames the empty hallway. Cautiously, a guard trudges down the corridor. The camera pans to track him. After setting the stage in the castle’s night-emptied halls, we are introduced to Horatio, Barnardo, and Marcellus using an over-the-shoulder shot which operates almost as a fourth person eavesdropping on the trio. As the three men huddle together, their retelling of the previous night’s events is interrupted by an abrupt switch to a first-person handheld shot. This viewpoint stalks slowly towards the murmuring group, who quickly turn in terror, shying away from the unseen arrival. Horatio stammers out a command to speak, but the apparition—Hamlet Senior’s ghost—ignores him and departs. Once again the point of view switches abruptly, back to the security camera. Three men stand together, terrified, in an empty hallway.