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Hamlet

Kenneth Branagh , Julie Christie , Kenneth Branagh    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
"Hamlet" is obviously the gold standard for actors -- pull off the melancholy Dane, and you've just about reached the top of your craft. Kenneth Branagh's turn as everyone's favorite soliloquist is an ambitious, bold, wonderful film that just misses the mark.
First, the high points (and there are many). By daring to film the entire (four hour!) production, Branagh has paid both Shakespeare and his audience the ultimate compliment. As Branagh's characters spelled out in his comic gem, "A Midwinter's Tale," cutting "Hamlet" from its full four-hour length to a two-plus hour length is one of the most difficult editorial processes you'll ever try, but everyone does it because nobody stays in their seats for four hours anymore. By telling the "whole story," Branagh fleshes out minor characters and provides more context for the story (for example, Claudius has a more precarious political position than many truncated versions depict, and his negotiations with Laertes become more important).
Branagh's Hamlet is a bright, dynamic individual, full of rage and yet stymied by his ability to see more than one side of the situation. (As has been pointed out by wiser folks than I, if Hamlet and Othello were transposed, there wouldn't be any plays! Othello would have murdered Claudius in the first act, and Hamlet would have seen through Iago's plotting and outsmarted him.) He's a product of his home, which is a surprisingly well-lit, semi-modern location -- most productions cast Elsinore as a fairly gloomy place.
Showing off a buffness that was not present in his earlier films (in "Henry V," Branagh is comparatively doughy), Branagh nails the part.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent teaching tool May 7 2004
By C Booth
Format:VHS Tape
I cannot add to the wonderful reviews for this film but I would like to tell of my personal experience with it.
I have a teen-age daughter who was struggling with English Lit. She hated reading (always had). She had to read various classics and was especially struggling with Hamlet. She could not understand it, but, plodded through it anyway. The cliff notes confused her. I came across this movie at the video rental place and decided to try it to see if it would help. After watching the video, she was so excited about the story of Hamlet that she immediately read it again, then watched the movie again. We both found the movie to be extremely true to the original writing. The greatest thing about this movie is that it gave my daughter the drive to read. FINALLY. I had given up on her ever being able to enjoy reading, now she would rather read than watch TV. I give all the credit to this movie. Now, if a movie comes out based on a book she always reads the book if she watches the movie.
The only criticism I have is that I WANT THIS ON DVD and it isn't available.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Film June 29 2004
By fra7299
Format:VHS Tape
Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" works so well on the big screen because the guy has a knack for Shakespeare, acting, directing, and knowing what "modern" audiences wanted out of a Shakespearean play. He takes the tale of Hamlet, prince of Denmark, and transports it to more of a modern setting (well, more modern than the 16th century). He assembles an all-star cast that includes Kate Winslett, Charlton Heston, Derek Jacobi, Billy Crystal, Jack Lemmon, Robin Williams among others in this adaptation of Shakespeare's classic.
Although 4 hours in length (mainly because every word in the play is inserted in the script), the stunning effect of the play is extraordinary. The backdrop for the ghost of Hamlet in the opening scene, the mirror used when Hamlet (Branaugh) is making his "To be or not to be" soliloquy, the palace in which Hamlet and Laertes fight, and the snowy landscape in which Fortenbras and his men arrive are all instances of using scenery and directing to update this version of the play.
Although the setting and interpretation of what Shakespeare intended are left in doubt, the movie itself is visually stunning and the acting is great. Although Branaugh hired a few American actors to take on some of Shakespeare's characters (for instance, Robin Williams plays Osric and Billy Crystal plays one of the gravediggers), there "American" accents are hardly noticed in the film.
As an educator, I also think this is a fantastic version to use as a resource for a study of the play. Because the dialogue is accurate to the play, it works well. Also, this version seemingly makes the work of Shakespeare easier to understand. (Although, as a warning, there is one scene with Winslet (Ophelia) and Branaugh (Hamlet) that is definitely "adult" in nature).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant March 3 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I have "collected" Hamlets in the sense of seeing many stage and film versions for more than 30 years, from off-off-Broadway goofs to Laurence Olivier's and Branagh's so-called masterpieces. The fact is that the play is Shakespeare's most difficult in many respects. Most of the major characters are deluded, mad, or pretending to be deluded or mad. Even stating what the play is about has nearly exhausted the imagination of 20 generations.
There are things in this version I object to--most especially the handling of the duel and bloodbath at the end. It is over the top and physically unbelievable, detracting somewhat from the viewer's ability to feel for the characters involved. But having said that, all-in-all (and "all" of Hamlet is a lot!), this is the best production I have ever seen: complete,in the proper order, with excellent performances by Branagh and Winslet and ESPECIALLY Derek Jacobi as Claudius. When Claudius makes sense, the play makes sense, and while I have other favorite Hamlets and Ophelias and Polonius', there has NEVER been a Claudius so brilliantly portrayed. The production values are brilliant, the music fine, and the overall representation of Shakespeare's most haunting work unequaled.
So where is the DVD?!?!?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Branagh brilliant as always
Kenneth Branagh is brilliant as always in this tortured portrayal of Hamlet. By far the best performance of this work and beautifully shot with external scenes tastefully evoking... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kat
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet...the whole play!
As a thighschool eacher of literature, I have several video versions of Shakespeare's Hamlet. This is the only one that follows the play, word for word. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Krob
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet review
It's the complete script, with well-known actors and a more or less traditional interpretation. An excellent version for students to watch.
Published 20 months ago by Maryanne McNeil
5.0 out of 5 stars HAMLET as it should be seen!
This DVD is an absolutely brilliant adaption of Shakespeare's Hamlet. An unabridged version it is superbly acted by a wonderful cast, and stars as well as being directed by Kenneth... Read more
Published on March 26 2012 by Lorraine C. Kenealy
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Not a very good movie
Published on Dec 22 2009 by Ron C. Samson
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful version of Hamlet
I admire Branaugh's boldness in making a completely uncut version of Hamlet at four hours long. This may be too long for some viewers, but I am a bard addict, so it works for me! Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2009 by Matthew Beasley
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Shakespeare film
This is my personal favourite of the various Shakespeare films I've seen, and in my view is Branaugh's best acting performance (although his role as Iago is a close second). Read more
Published on July 21 2007 by Ryan B. Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars Good.
This version of 'Hamlet' starring and directed by the one and only Kenneth Branagh is a joy to watch and might be the best version of the famous play. Read more
Published on June 19 2004 by Dhaval Vyas
5.0 out of 5 stars Kenneth Branagh version is the best!
Mr. Branagh did a wonderful job of bringing this play to the big screen. It is outstanding visually. Read more
Published on April 21 2004 by Dionne R. Browning
1.0 out of 5 stars this movie liked it in the balloon knot.
This movie royally sucked. It's too effing long and I was bored of it and kenneth branagh is the worst actor I have evr seen in my life... Read more
Published on March 19 2004 by Heath512
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