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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980)

Hamlet suspects his uncle has murdered his father to claim the throne of Denmark and the hand of Hamlet's mother, but the prince cannot decide whether or not he should take vengeance.

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Cast

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Robert Swann ...
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Geoffrey Bateman ...
Emrys James ...
Jason Kemp ...
Geoffrey Beevers ...
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Peter Richard ...
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Storyline

Hamlet comes home from university to find his uncle married to his mother, and his father's ghost haunting the battlements and scaring the watch. Then his father's ghost directs him to seek revenge. Written by Kathy Li

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10 November 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Patrick Stewart plays Derek Jacobi's stepfather despite actually being two years younger. See more »

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Version of Hamlet (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

In Many Ways the Best
1 March 2005 | by (sf) – See all my reviews

No one production of "Hamlet" can completely satisfy except for the one that plays in your head as you read the play, but this is the extant version that comes closest for me (with one glaring exception).

Derek Jacobi is probably the best actor that I've seen play the role, although he's brittle and snappish in places (his first exchanges with Claudius and Gertrude, his comments to Polonius during the 'Rugged Pyrrhus' speech) where I think a mellower touch is called for. But on the whole it's a wonderful performance, and since Hamlet has almost half the lines in the whole play Jacobi himself is enough to strongly recommend the whole.

This Polonius is better than most, although not as funny as Hume Cronyn was. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are well played, straddling the difficult line between being friends to Hamlet and scoring points with the King. A fine, fiery Laertes, and an Ophelia that's no worse than any others (I've yet to see Ophelia played the way I feel she ought to be). Gertrude was adequate (I've also yet to see a compelling Gertrude, but I don't particularly know what I would suggest). It's also too bad that nobody seems to put any sense of spectacle into the Ghost's appearance any more; the Olivier film and the Burton stage production both give it an unworldliness that the Jacobi, Kline, Gibson and Hawk versions lack (although if I remember correctly Brian Blessed was well-used in the Brannagh film)...

The big drawback to this version is in the casting of Patrick Stewart as Claudius. The fault is not in his performance, which is worthy, but in the man himself. Granted, Claudius may not be as much of a toad as Hamlet thinks him to be, but his "natural gifts" should be poor compared to his murdered brother's. Stewart in fact HAS "the front of Jove himself; An eye like Mars, to threaten and command," which Claudius pointedly lacks. In short, Stewart is just too REGAL to play Claudius, the "king of shreds and patches". (And it's not just the father-and-son Hamlets that consider Claudius visibly inferior; Gertrude herself, when Hamlet makes her confront the two pictures, sees black and grained spots on her soul at the comparison.)

All in all, though, it's an excellent production.


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