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,…
A 70mm screening brings out Branagh's clear investment in this material (as if we didn't know already). It's a dynamic adaptation (for the most part), with a necessarily stately look and elegance.
It's unabridged, which does mean the occasional sudden shifts between tragedy and comedy may jar for modern audiences. More jarring, however, are some of the casting choices. Great as Branagh, Jacobi and Winslet might be, the appearances of Lemmon, Crystal and Williams actively remove you from the film. A pity, because proceedings are otherwise lush and involving.
MVP: A tie between Nicholas Farrell's Horatio and Patrick Doyle's score.
Kenneth Branagh's glorious, lavish, and arguably definitive Hamlet adaption, standing at a proud 4 hours and 2 minutes long. I've been wanting to watch this for a while for multiple reasons, not least the talent involved. Seriously, look at this supporting cast: Julie (Mrs. Miller) Christie, Kate Winslet, Billy Crystal, Judi Dench, Charlton Heston, Robin (Rest In Peace) Williams and even more talented individuals bring the bard to life. Most of these celebrity appearances work, while some of them don't as much. The best of them all is Branagh himself as the titular figure. His Hamlet is sarcastic, angry, imperfect and charming, as conveyed in a performance rich in detail and nuance. The design and 70mm photography is beautiful, the dramatic score enhances the film's emotions but never dictates it. Admittedly, there are a few clunky moments, but because of the film's sprawling length they don't bear much prominence, and didn't distract from the overall magnificence on display. 9.5/10
Finally watched the whole thing in one sitting. Four hours... Gorgeous, too faithful and weirdly Errol Flynn like at the end...
Hamlet is a great play that doesn't need me to explain how great it is. And if it is unabridged and well-set with thoughtful production then great work.
But Jesus, Kenneth -- Hamlet's not just a one-tone soliloquy-er. The "How All Occasions Inform Against Me" speech is delivered with as much fucking triumph and bombast as the "What a Piece of Work Is Man" speech. And if I have to hear that fucking "[insert Hamlet's monologue here]" orchestral number one more fucking time in this fucking productively-bloated four-hour fucking glittery rehash/circlejerk of a classic imma go all Elvis Presley up on this TV and see how long the DVD will last when its bits are sleeping in the septic system.
Or I'll, y'know. Turn the movie off.
Yes, as a movie it may have its flaws (hated that monologue execution, and some parts are definitely miscast).
But it is unabridged Hamlet, how can you expect anyone not to love it?
... '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
Complete list. :-(
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…