The highly successful 1964 Richard Burton Broadway production of "Hamlet", deliberately staged in the style of a "dress rehearsal", but performed in front of a live audience.

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Sir John Gielgud directed this "Electronovision" taping of the play "Hamlet" performed at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Broadway in 1964 ("Electronovision" was a short-lived gimmick which was basically closed-circuit TV). The most unusual thing about this film is that the actors are in street clothes instead of period costumes, and the sets are minimal, to say the least. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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23 September 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Richard Burton's Hamlet  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

By the time this film was made, Frederick Young had replaced Robert Burr in the role of Bernardo. See more »

Connections

Version of The Tragedy of Hamlet (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
If you are considering this, then you should see it
8 November 2007 | by (Boulder, CO) – See all my reviews

The fact that you are even thinking about watching this means that there is a high probability that you will like it, since you either like the play or like Burton or both. Any fan of Burton will delight in his performance and any lover of the play should appreciate the no-frills approach. The text is closely followed and not much is deleted. This is not really a movie, but the filming of an actual stage performance presented in front of an audience. By design the production is carried out as though it were a dress rehearsal, with minimal props and most actors appearing in street clothes.

The filming was done in "Electronovision" which appears to be an early method of filming directly from an electronic camera. Several of these cameras were used, providing scenes viewed from different angles and distances. The quality is much higher than the kinescopes of early TV (which were obtained by filming from a camera monitor) but markedly lower than black and white film of the period. Close-ups are good and actually have a quality that is reminiscent of certain contemporary independent films, but shots of the stage filmed at a distance are not as satisfactory. In any case, since Electronovision seems to have met an early death, you are not likely to see anything like this again.

Burton's Hamlet is not so melancholy, but rather angry, sardonic, and impish. He also brings a nimble athleticism to the role. The sword play is well done; it made me nervous watching it. It's hard to think of a contemporary actor who could pull this off. Hume Cronyn turns in a memorable performance as Polonius.

It is interesting to contrast this with Branagh's complete-text film which is in color and very much a movie and not the filming of a stage play. Burton's Hamlet is another example of how every production of this play is unique.

The DVD is available from Amazon.


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