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Hamlet (Widescreen)

2.7 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Diane Venora, Sam Shepard, Bill Murray
  • Directors: Michael Almereyda
  • Writers: Michael Almereyda, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Amy Hobby, Andrew Fierberg, Callum Greene, Jason Blum, John Sloss
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: eOne Films Distribution
  • Release Date: May 22 2012
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00004Z4RP
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,507 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description


Perhaps the least important thing about this latest film version of Shakespeare's masterpiece is its setting in modern-day New York. Yes, such locales as the Guggenheim Museum are used wittily; answering machines and faxes are logically worked into the plot; and it was both inspired and entirely appropriate to make the prince of Denmark a moody, introspective filmmaker whose avant-garde collages provide the context for some of his famous monologues. All of which would be so much pleasantly humorous eye-candy if it didn't come hand in hand with a sympathy for and understanding of this remarkable cast of characters. For that, ultimately, is what makes Michael Almereyda's Hamlet such a delight to watch. Forget that the immortal rumination on suicide is placed in a Blockbuster Video aisle and notice instead how Ethan Hawke's own youthful, callow arrogance makes Hamlet's vacillations believable. And how the comical but infantilizing way Bill Murray's Polonius dotes upon his daughter Ophelia (Julia Stiles)--and her mute acceptance of his attentions--lead her to thoughts of a watery grave even before her bout of madness. And also notice how much Claudius truly does love Gertrude (when gazing at her, Kyle MacLachlan's face relaxes from its usual plasticity) and how Sam Shepard's ghost is less vengeful or tortured than stiffened by remorse. These are the shining moments of invention in Almereyda's bold updating of the play, and they are why this will be a film to watch and enjoy long after its setting has made it as much a period piece as Olivier's adaptation, with its broodingly lit castle, or Branagh's, with its gleaming 19th-century court. --Bruce Reid

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Jan. 2 2004
Format: DVD
If you have not studied and understand Shakespeare's usage of words, then this movie will be a terrible long bore filled with words you would have trouble pronouncing, let alone understanding. You may have understood some of the plot had the setting and the dialouge not been so different. 14th century Denmark and 21st century New York are two completly different worlds, with different words. If you found it horrible confusing, study Shakespeare's language and then give this movie another look.
Now if you understand Shakespeare, but have not read the play, you could follow the plot, and identify with some of the characters. Hamlet was played a bit meloncholy, but it fit. If you truely like dramas, then you can agree with me that when he put the gun to his head and said "To be or not to be," it was moving, at least I thought it was. Ophelia's sudden maddness seemed, well, sudden, but again, my boyfriend never shot my father either. The poloroid pictures perfectly captured the drowning with flowers, and yet kept it contemporary. The final scene brought tears to my eyes. I felt so much empathy for Hamlet, and while I knew it was a tragedy, I was completly shocked when he died.
Overall, this was one of the better modern-day Shakespearean plays I have seen.
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By A Customer on Jan. 18 2004
Format: DVD
I'm not sure what movie many of these reviewers watched, but it obviously wasn't this one. The movie I saw was brilliant, with good acting, very fitting music, and good direction; an excellent _adaptation_ of Shakespeare's play.
Hawke was excellent as Hamlet. Julia Stiles was pretty unconvincing, as Ophelia, at first, but only got better as the movie progressed. Kyle Maclachlan is probably the most "Shakespearean" of the major actors, and he does not disappoint. Bill Murray is the weakest, but he fits in well.
All in all, the key to understanding this Hamlet is that it is a _movie._ It's not a play on tape, but a movie (or film, for pretentiphiles), and it takes advantage of all the capabilities of that versatile medium. It's also an adaption of the play, and a significant portion of important dialogue was cut, which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, the plot is intact and the film has a hard-hitting emotional impact.
Don't expect a traditional and stale Hamlet, and you won't be disappointed.
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Format: DVD
Since I'm in my seventh decade and am a Shakespeare fan(atic), I've had plenty of time to catch a great many HAMLETS--at least 10 different versions on stage or film or TV, plus a wild clunky performance in my undergraduate second-year Shakespeare class, where we students ran around the classroom emoting from our textbooks, where the professor (who didn't need a book) was having so much fun he played both Hamlet and Laertes in the duel scene, bounced back and forth fencing with himself, stabbed himself to death, then became Horatio and Fortinbras, and gave his own solemn eulogy. That was the hands-on way Dr. Robertson taught all the plays, and made them unforgettable!

Of the professional performances I've seen, Olivier's 1948 film stands very high (I think everyone in my ninth grade class saw it at least twice) and so does Derek Jacobi's on PBS. The most fun was Anna Russell's hilarious mock-Verdi opera, HAMLETTO, or PROSCIUTTINO, with its Rosencrantz and Guildenstern patter-song. Russell's pastiche was more to my taste than Mel Gibson's interpretation. That one was a banal disaster, as I should have expected--a waste of time and money. My lifelong favorite has been the 1960s New York City stage production starring Richard Burton, who gave a new dimension to Hamlet's motivation. Oh, how I wish that one had been filmed.

There've been several modern-dress stage interpretations which I'd liked, so I was intrigued by the reports that this one was set in near-future New York City, not in Denmark (the country) but in Denmark (the corporation). The unusual casting also fascinated me, so I paid to see it in a theater instead of renting it. What an experience it turned out to be! If Amazon had a 4.5 rating, that's how I'd rate this HAMLET.
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Format: DVD
When I first began watching this movie it was a let down, I had been expecting so much more. I almost shut it off but my husband convinced me to keep watching and....I LOVED IT.
I am not much of a Julia Stiles fan but when she is lamenting over her father's death and casting polorids of flowers to the ground, I amost cried with her. Her performance there is worth owning the movie in my opinion. I recommend you get through the somewhat dull beginnig and see the masterpiece of the end.
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Format: DVD
There have been a number of brilliant adaptations of Shakespeare in the past few years which has updated and modernized the settings, but this isn't one of them.
The use of contemporary locations throughout this movie is sometimes clever or witty, but never really hits interesting and always distracts from the play. The main conceit -- Denmark as a corporation, etc -- just doesn't fit the language, and each time someone refers to CEO Claudius as "dread lord" it serves to remind us of just how poorly the metaphor works.
Hamlet spends much of his time with a video camera, and clearly the director thinks he has something very important to say on the media or some such, but I have no idea what.
Ethan Hawke's performance brings out the unenergetic side of the role, as half the film is him muttering iambic pentameter in a dull monotone. There's no straining against his inability to act, he just can't be bothered to. I suppose this is a valid interpretation of the role, but it's deathly boring.
Julia Stiles does not appear to understand most of the lines she is speaking.
I'd have to recommend the 1991 movie starring Mel Gibson over this one. At least Mel Gibson wasn't wearing a stupid hat.
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