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Hamlet (1990)

PG | | Drama | 18 January 1991 (USA)
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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, finds out that his uncle Claudius killed his father to obtain the throne, and plans revenge.

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(play), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Storyline

Hamlet returns to Denmark when his father, the King, dies. His mother Gertrude has already married Hamlet's uncle Claudius, the new King. They urge Hamlet to marry his beloved Ophelia. But soon the ghost of Hamlet's father appears and tells Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius and Gertrude. Hamlet must choose between passive acquiescence and the need for a vengeance which might lead to tragedy. Written by Reid Gagle

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Plot Keywords:

king | denmark | ghost | prince | revenge | See All (92) »

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The extraordinary adaptation of Shakespeare's classic tale of vengeance and tragedy.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

18 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amlet  »

Box Office

Gross:

$20,710,451 (USA)
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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In this film version, Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech comes after his meeting with Ophelia (the "get thee to a nunnery" speech). Shakespeare has the monologue directly before their meeting. See more »

Goofs

During the "confrontation" between Hamlet and Ophelia, the shadow of a camera can be seen on the floor behind Ophelia as Hamlet begins to circle her.. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Claudius: Hamlet! Think of us as of a father. For let the world take note: you are the most immediate to our throne. And with no less nobility of love than that which dearest father bears his son do I impart toward you.
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Connections

Referenced in Kicking and Screaming (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

To Define True Madness, What Is't But To Be Nothing Else But Mad?
2 November 2004 | by (sf) – See all my reviews

I'd put off viewing this version of "Hamlet" for a long time, because I'd heard that they'd turned this most cerebral of plays into an "action movie", but I ended up quite liking it.

I should begin by saying that I approve of ALL interpretations, because each choice reflects different possibilities all of which are supportable by the text; no one vision can encompass every potentiality inherent in the play. And the text per se, of course, will always exist in absolute form despite the number of hands that manipulate it.

All productions (except Branagh's) cut certain elements as a sacrifice to tighter (though narrower) focus. And the use of film rather than stage allows (even necessitates) different types of dramatic development. Films unfold at a different pace than stage plays. Zefirelli's adaptations WORK as film-making, without detracting from (or unnecessarily supplementing) Shakespeare's language. For instance, the little "prologue" scene showing the internment of the dead king. It is original to the movie, and yet the dialogue is still from the play; it doesn't misrepresent anything about the characters in its new context. And perhaps most importantly, it "works" in the movie that the director is making. But on to the substantive comment...

Mel Gibson was, in my opinion, too old to be Hamlet (making Glenn Close, by extension, too young to be Gertrude), but the issue of Hamlet's age has always been a problem. He's 30 in the text (this version leaves out that calculation), but that makes some of his relationships (with Ophelia, for instance) seem a little... immature. And yet if he's portrayed too young, his depth of thought is almost impossibly precocious. But I thought he was convincing nonetheless, particularly in expressing something that I've found central to my understanding of the play but I all too rarely see dealt with in Hamlet's portrayal, which is this:

Hamlet IS quite mad. 'Tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true. From his first meeting with the ghost onwards, he is profoundly disturbed. It is irony that he then puts an 'antic disposition' on, because he has in actuality gone quite 'round the bend.

Mel Gibson not only gives the first convincing portrayal of Hamlet's "pretended" madness that I've seen, but he also shows us the desperation of the character in his quiet moments. Hamlet is not, as Olivier posited in his 1948 version, merely "a man who could not make up his mind." Gibson's Hamlet spends much of the film alternating between mania-induced impulsiveness and paralyzing inability to act. The Dane is not merely melancholy, he is certifiably manic-depressive. (Claudius, I believe, sees this.)

Over all, I believe that this would be a good introduction to the story of Hamlet for those who otherwise would have had no contact with it, although as I said it can then be supplemented by other adaptations (and of course there's no substitute for, ultimately, reading the text).


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