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Hamlet

David Tennant , Patrick Stewart , Gregory Doran    Unrated   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 24.98
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Product Description

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It's to director Gregory Doran's incredible credit that his staging of that most familiar of English-language plays, Shakespeare's Hamlet, should be completely reinvigorated by a modern interpretation of the tragedy as a true psychological thriller. This Hamlet, filmed in 2009, presents the inner torment of the Danish prince Hamlet as a believable, relatable controlled explosion of emotions, each more unmanageable than the last. Besides the director, the casting is also brilliant, including the Scottish actor David Tennant (Doctor Who) as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Hamlet's uncle Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet's father--who, Hamlet becomes convinced, was killed by Claudius. The direction is brisk, and the acting is first rate. Tennant plays a heartbreaking Hamlet, whose paranoia and weird inner reflections are given a modern spin by the lush, shiny mirrorlike surfaces in the palace, as well as by small but excellent details, like a closed-circuit camera system. And Stewart is menacing but completely collected as Claudius, and unnerving as his brother's ghost. Other strong performances are contributed by Penny Downie as Hamlet's mother, Gertrude; Mariah Gale as Ophelia (who's not quite up to par with the rest of the cast, until she goes mad; then boy does she ever go mad); and Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius. But it's Tennant as the mad prince who is riveting in Hamlet. His "To be or not to be, that is the question" soliloquy--perhaps the best-known speech in English theater--is delivered in a hushed, anguished, all-too-believable manner--occasionally addressing the camera, which is fixed close on Tennant's face. The DVD also includes a must-see documentary on making Hamlet, which includes great interviews with director Doran, cast members and the art directors, set designers and others who give this Hamlet a fresh, polished sheen--while keeping the ages-old tragedy of Shakespeare's words and the explosion of needless death close to the original. The impact is unforgettable; this Hamlet is a terrific achievement. --A.T. Hurley

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest too May 16 2010
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
"Hamlet" doesn't need any introduction -- the tortured Dane, the ghost, meditations on suicide and a climax full of death. But while many adaptations of Shakespeare's classic play feel stuffy and distant, this "Hamlet" has it all -- sleek elegant sets, powerful acting, and clever modern twists on the age-old stuff. And the best part is the brilliant performances by David Tennant and Patrick Stewart.

Prince Hamlet of Denmark (Tennant) is understandably upset when, only a short time after his father's death, his mother Gertrude (Penny Downie) marries his uncle Claudius (Stewart). But when Hamlet encounters the tormented ghost of his father (Stewart again), he learns that his dad was murdered by his uncle -- but he's plagued by indecision, since he's unsure if the spirit was truly his dad.

Hamlet's behavior becomes more bizarre and erratic -- he dumps his girlfriend Ophelia (Mariah Gale), arranges a play that mimics real life a little too closely, and generally acts like a loon (yodeling with a fake crown?). But when an argument with his mother ends in tragedy, Hamlet's fate is sealed as Claudius begins plotting to get rid of him too...

"Hamlet" is one of those plays that only really comes out two ways -- either you have a passionate, intense tragedy full of very human characters, or you have two boring hours of some whiny guy talking to himself. Having suffered through the latter in the past, it makes me appreciate a well-done performance all the more -- and this "Hamlet" is full of energy, vitality and wit.

A lot of that comes from Tennant, who is simply brilliant as Hamlet -- loads of energy, and a weird edge to his "madness" (example: freaking out Polonius by pulling a weird face).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind March 14 2012
By L. Power HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Before watching this I had not heard of David Tennant, although he is a household name in England for playing Doctor Who.

Now, having watched this I must say I am hugely impressed. He does not act Hamlet. He is Hamlet. In fact he has a certain quirkiness that lends itself to Hamlet's feigned madness. Even though we know he is putting on an antic disposition, because he says so, yet we don't know if he has crossed the line from feigned madness to real madness. We do have good reason to wonder given the extremity of what happens.

If you're like me, as you watch this version the fresh insights come dripping fast. What struck me particularly were the parallels between Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes, all of whom have experienced the same event, the murder of the father. Hamlet responds by pretending madness but being passive and indecisive, considering suicide as in being and non being, Ophelia responds with real madness and actual suicide, and Laertes responds in a more active way by decisively challenging Hamlet to avenge the death of both his father and his sister.

The queen falls under the witchcraft and wits of Claudius gifts, with witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,-- O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power to seduce our seeming virtuous queen. Apparently, this is a rather pointed reference to Archbishop W(h)itgift, who with his Machiavellian tactics seduced the ear of Queen Elizabeth. In any event this reference was removed from the original 1603 quarto, reappearing in the 1604 quarto, after Whitgift, and Elizabeth's death.

I loved this modernised version of Hamlet, with the original language, with the closed circuit tv's, reinforcing the idea that Hamlet was being constantly watchied by double dealing courtiers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking! May 15 2011
By Pierre Gauthier TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This highly creative production of one of the world's most famous plays truly succeeds in providing a good understanding of this very complex work.

The actors are well cast, extremely talented and well directed. In particular, David Tenant makes for a young, energetic and yet profound Hamlet. Mariah Gale is also stunning with realistic madness as Ophelia.

Many contemporary elements, including costumes, are introduced in the production. Far from artificial, they do not disturb the narrative but indeed clarify it. For instance, spying is done through video cameras rather than hiding behind curtains and Polonius is killed at a distance by gunshot rather than by sword through a drape.

This movie is highly recommended to all, including those unfamiliar with Shakespeare. Even, teen-agers should appreciate it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic May 18 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I had the opportunity to see this production live in Stratford (UK). I was so happy to find it on Amazon. I ordered two and both were in great condition and were formatted for North America, as advertised. For those who love Shakespeare and Hamlet or those who like Star Trek and Dr. Who, you will enjoy this version.
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5.0 out of 5 stars this is well worth the price of this DVD May 18 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am so glad I happened upon this DVD--- this story is one of the most popular plays written by Shakespeare--I love the version by K Branagh-- My husband and I were fortunate to be able to enjoy a performance in Stradford-on -Avon -England-performed by the RSC - but this production equals both of these--I give credit for this not only to the director-but also to both David Tennant [who gave an amazing performance as Hamlet-BRAVO] and certainly--Patrick Stewart--there are not words which describe his performance properly-Mr Stewart has a lifetime achievement with RSC and I feel fortunate to have been able just to enjoy a glimpse of this- thanks to this DVD---I only regret we were not able to enjoy this on stage in England-both of these gifted actors excel on that stage--but seem to more recognized for performances on -TV--thank you to them -the RSC and BBC--and thanks also to Amazon CA -for making this one available in Canada.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
David Tennant is a brilliant actor when it comes to Shakespeare. He brings so much emotion to this performance. The rest of the cast is equally brilliant. Read more
Published 4 months ago by sun
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious
David Tennant? Patrick Stewart? Doing Hamlet?? Why yes, this IS the sci-fi lovers Shakespeare. Previous roles aside the actors do this great classic justice, and that says it all.
Published 5 months ago by Alexandra
5.0 out of 5 stars shakespere's "Hamlet"
This contemporary version of "Hamlet" is different, yet it captures the very essence of the actual play. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Sonja Rois
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Hamlet...
with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. The Doctor and Captain Picard. Seriously. What else is there to say about it?
Published 12 months ago by Bucky
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's Hamlet Done with Style
This hamlet production breathe new life into an ancient tale. Magnificently made, it meticulously paid attention to character portayal at par with that on stage. Read more
Published 17 months ago by E. Ferrer
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done.
A good production of Hamlet that allowed me to focus upon the words. A good introduction to different staging performances of this classic.
Published 22 months ago by John McInnis
5.0 out of 5 stars simply brilliant!
This rendition of Hamlet is definitely my favorite! The whole thing is set in a modern timeline, but with a regal environment--the characters wear suits and dresses, and the set... Read more
Published on April 13 2012 by Laura
3.0 out of 5 stars Patrick Stewart really is old this time
"The Tragical History of Hamlet Prince of Denmark" and not only the Prince but also his family. Not only his family but also his friends. Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2010 by bernie
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