Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing.
Film #64 of Project 90
”If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, absent thee from felicity awhile and in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain to tell my story.”
Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s groundbreaking and iconic play may not be as intense as the original work but it is a very gorgeous film that pleases the eye and with Branagha’s energetic directing and some spectacular performances from a top-class ensemble it is in fact a solid and enjoyable cinematic version of a legendary piece of literature. Even though Hamlet runs for almost four hours but there is enough drama in this timeless tragedy to enchant us and Branagh’s accurate understanding of characters and themes…
One of my 1000 recommended films.
I go through phases of liking this film a lot, and then thinking it is far too long, self-indulgent, and weirdly cast.
Kenneth Branagh, back in 1996, was still being touted as the new Olivier. He'd appeared on screen in Henry V (under his own direction) and Othello (under the direction of Oliver Parker, as Iago).
This version of Hamlet was his third Shakespeare film adaptation as director, following Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing, and since Hamlet he has made versions of Love's Labour's Lost and As You Like It.
To say this is a full-text version of the play would not be exaggerating. In fact, in his eagerness to stay faithful…
Just terrific. Watching this again really did it for me. Branagh's Hamlet is a terrific adaptation and a triumphant film that utilizes the possibilities of the source material to full effect. The set design is immaculate, the cinematography is beautiful , and the scope is stunning (oh what I would give to see this in 70mm).
This is the perfect Hamlet for me: it combines the bard's exquisite work with the stylistic sensibilities of a true epic film. Marvelous.
The cinematography...good lord, the cinematography...
This was much better than I expected.
Despite having enjoyed Kenneth Branagh's other Shakespeare adaptation, Henry V the 4 hour runtime on his version of Hamlet left me a little nervous. Now, I tend to like long movies, and considering my favorite film of all time has a 4 hour length, this fact really shouldn't have put me off. I was afraid it would be too drawn out and boring, but thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised with the film. While it does drag in places, Hamlet is ultimately a very captivating film that kept me interested for the entire time. The performances are excellent, especially from Branagh, who is equally as good behind the camera. The production design and costumes…
Kenneth Branagh, also known as Laurence Olivier reincarnate, attempts to adapt Shakespeare’s Hamlet forty eight years after Oliver made it possible to translate the bard to the screen. With almost half a century in between Branagh’s adaptation and Olivier’s there is so much cinematic evolvement that despite the having the same material and mostly same language there is a lot differing. Olivier, working in the 40s, draws on German Expressionism and film noir as his film language. He leans towards the darker, more tragic aspects of the play. He revels in Hamlet’s sorrow, grief and existentialism. This makes sense. An audience at that time, Post-World War II, would empathize with the uncertainty and unrest of the atmosphere Olivier creates. Branagh,…
... 'cause yeah... four hours is a reasonable length for a film... right?
Boy, what a film to sit through. Not specifically because it was boring or too long, but because it's Hamlet, it's fucking Shakespeare! I always wondered wether there were actual epic adaptations of such famous plays as those written by Shakespeare. I had already scene the Roman Polanski-version of Macbeth and I've seen parts of the new Macbeth-adaptation by Kurzel and many, many other bits and pieces of such adaptations, but none have ever felt so grand (read: grand, not epic) as this one.
What makes Branagh's adaptation so interesting and a definite must watch, are the following aspects:
First of all, it stays absolutely true to…
this was the most wild 4 hours and 20 minutes of my life god damn
Like his idol, Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Brannagh popularized Shakespeare to a new generation and couldn't resist casting himself in the leading role.
This brilliant adaptation of the venerable play features a stellar cast including Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, a pre-Titanic Kate Winslet, Robin Williams, Gerard Depardieu, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal, Charlton Heston, Judi Dench, Richard Attenborough, John Gielgud, and Rosemary Harris.
This is the first filmed adaptation of the full text and its four-hour run time limits the appeal, but all serious lovers of Shakespeare and the timeless transcendence of art will love it.
A play is to divert, to entertain, to allow us to identify with others who trials and tribulations are so like our own. And so first the playwright seeks to engage his audience, and only then, by happenstance and indirection, to inspire and to inform. Shakespeare did this unconsciously, we might say. He wrote for the popular audience of his time, a broad audience, it should be noted, that included kings and queens as well as knaves and beggars, and he reached them, one and all. We are much removed from those times, and yet, this play, this singular achievement in theatre, still has the power to transcend mere entertainment, to fuse poetry and story, as well as the high…
The Throne of Blood,
Most Wellesian in scale and formal style.
This was only my second run through Hamlet, having seen a single stage production in the past. I never studied it. I wish I had, as I still find parts of it impenetrable. But even so, this film was absolutely amazing to watch, particularly post-intermission when Branagh brings Shakespeare's dramatic tragedy to full froth in a way that is exceptionally energetic, exciting and gloriously cinematic.
Branagh's direction is stylish, but not overbearing. Camera tracks and swirls beguile, but do not outstay their welcome. There is no sense of the film straining to be cinematic.
His visual compositions are often grand. That it was filmed (the interiors) on studio sets is sometimes obvious, but Branagh comes through with spirit and strong…
Complete list. :-(
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…