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Hamlet

Kenneth Branagh , Julie Christie , Kenneth Branagh    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 31.98
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Kenneth Branagh's four-hour production of Shakespeare's full text for Hamlet is visually lush (shot in 70mm, which is rarely done) and full of fascinating story moments that normally get cut from shorter stage versions. (Your idea of what kind of fellow Polonius is may change quite a bit.) The unexpurgated approach is truly enlightening, and Branagh intermittently succeeds at giving familiar moments in the drama an original cinematic spin, including Hamlet's spooky confrontation with his father's ghost (Brian Blessed). (Branagh also imposes some Hollywood glitter on the proceedings by casting the likes of Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Charlton Heston, and Jack Lemmon in the smaller parts.) The pre-Titanic Kate Winslet is very good as the doomed Ophelia, and Derek Jacobi delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance as Claudius, whose character is definitely filled out by the restored material. Branagh's own performance is a little revisionist--some viewers have quibbled with it while others seem fine with it. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet. Shakespeare's masterpiece about a Danish prince gets retooled for this unabridged screen version with notable cameo appearances by Richard Attenborough, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Dame Judi Dench and more. 2 DVDs. 1996/color/approx. 4 hrs/PG-13/widescreen.

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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful version of Hamlet Nov. 2 2009
Format:DVD
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! This seems to be a controversial version of the film in that people either seem to love it or hate it. Count me among one of those who loves it.

Branaugh captures the complexities of Hamlet's character. He acts melancholy, manic, angry, and witty at all the right moments (in my opinion).

Some have criticized Kate Winslet as Ophelia, but I think she does a suprisingly good job. She really looks and sounds emotionally broken in her "mad" scenes.

I also really liked the choice of a vibrant and beautiful Elsinore. I think it represents the hypocrisy of Claudius, charming and attractive on the outside but corrupt and rotten on the inside. Not everything that is corrupt and dark in this world necessarily looks that way in terms of appearences.

Most importantly, this movie moved me: it struck my emotional nerves. I was saddened when Gertrude reported Ophelia's drowning, I laughed at Hamlet and the gravedigger's witty jokes, and I was angered by Claudius' machinations. When a movie, through the actors, is able to move me on an emotional level, I definitely admire it.

Matt
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5.0 out of 5 stars Branagh brilliant as always April 4 2014
By Kat
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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 Denmark in winter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet...the whole play! April 6 2013
By Krob
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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. It's also a feast for the eyes!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet review Dec 29 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's the complete script, with well-known actors and a more or less traditional interpretation. An excellent version for students to watch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars HAMLET as it should be seen! March 26 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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 Branagh. Worth every minute!!!
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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star Dec 22 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Not a very good movie
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