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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

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Eric Porter ...
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Patrick Allen ...
Robert Swann ...
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Geoffrey Bateman ...
Emrys James ...
Jason Kemp ...
Geoffrey Beevers ...
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Peter Richard ...
Player in the mime, Queen
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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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Patrick Stewart plays Derek Jacobi's stepfather despite actually being two years younger. See more »

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Version of Royal Deceit (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Best portrayal of Hamlet, bar none
11 April 2001 | by (New Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

This production of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is by far the best that I have seen. Although it may not have the production value of some of the more recent adaptations, it does have the most important element: Sir Derek Jacobi as Hamlet.

Jacobi's portrayal of the disturbed Prince is multi-layered and riveting. His displays of emotion swing from hatred to sorrow, love to vengefulness and everywhere else on the map, but without seeming forced or over-the-top. In fact, some of the more powerful sequences occur when he underplays them, with stillness, soft speech and thoughtful expression. As to whether or not he interprets Hamlet as mad or sane...well, you should decide for yourselves; I changed my mind more than once. At one point it seems he has thought himself sane and merely playing at madness, but suspects that he is actually mad after all...a revelation to himself, captured beautifully. Having performed the part of Hamlet on stage more times than any other actor in history, Jacobi's affinity for the role then comes as little surprise.

As for the production itself, it is presented as a kind of "filmed-copy" of the stage play, with little special effects or fancy camera work, minimal sets and no musical accompaniment to speak of. This production relies on the acting prowess of the cast, and the words of Shakespeare, to evoke the emotion and interest of its audience. And it works. The other players are top-notch as well, particularly Patrick Stewart's "Claudius" and Claire Bloom's "Gertrude." Together the cast present a seamless ensemble.

The last (but far from least) element that makes this production stand out is the play itself. Here it is presented in its entirety, a rarity on film. But, oddly enough, I never noticed the time. I was too busy getting caught up in the story. I suspect that you will, too.


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