Hamlet: Special Edition
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Hamlet: (1996) Special Edition (Dbl DVD)
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.
I’m not sure that Branagh is all that strong an actor, either, and in this case his talent doesn’t match his ambition; though there’s nothing really wrong with his performance, there’s nothing particularly right about it either, and you never get the feeling that he’s really gotten to the heart of the character; he misses much of the nobility, as well as the existential angst; there’s nothing underlying his antic, and you lose sight of the method and the seriousness, the melancholy and the profundity of the character — and thus the point. Having said that, there are several good passages: he’s strong in the scene right after the play within the play, for example, if not so good during it.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
You like Kenneth Branagh? You like Shakespeare? You will love this production.Published 3 months ago by A. Clark
"Hamlet" doesn't need any introduction -- the tortured Dane, the ghost, meditations on suicide and a climax full of death. Read morePublished 13 months ago by EA Solinas
This is a very comprehensive, long movie; so long that it needs 2 discs and over 4 hours to watch in its entirety! Read morePublished 16 months ago by Demetrios Angelis
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 morePublished 22 months ago by Kat
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 morePublished on April 6 2013 by Krob