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|Index||26 reviews in total|
When I got over the initial surprise of what this movie was,(for some
the writers of the blurb on the tape packaging don't want you to know), I
found myself enjoying it.
This is not Shakespeare's Hamlet, with poetry, dramatic speeches and opportunities for showy histrionics but a steadily paced re-telling of the original Norse legend.
It's not for everybody but I found the combination of bleak Jutland scenery, calm voice-over narration and the momentum of the Royal intrigues fascinating and hypnotic.
Good acting by the principals.
This was my first encounter with Christian Bale, and I immediately
saw him as one of my favourite actors. He simply hit the screen,
fresh face and mature acting, and I was hooked.
The film shows the original Hamlet-story, not the Shakespeare
adaptation, so perhaps there´s too much happening in too short a
timeframe. Director Axel Gabriel is not your most Hollywood-pleasing filmmaker; he will give you a different
Brilliant actors throughout, and well worth a a watch. An unusual,
low-budget film that remains one of my favourites.
If you have seen Babette's Feast and can appreciate the difference between a
more European, understated style of film making and the slam-bang,
in-your-face style the Yanks dish out year in and year out... Then this may
be a movie for you.
Here is a small film by a director working in a language that is not his own. An experiment in story telling that succeeds on its own terms. Here is a film that is scored by one of the more highly rated, avant-guard classical composers in Europe. It re-tells a well beloved story by going at it by the roots in order to give it a fresh spin. The wonderful cast of British (and Irish) stars can be applauded for endorsing what must have been a modestly budgeted film.
Of course it is not Shakespeare. But it sheds new light on the Hamlet play by exploring the legend that inspired the bard to choose it as story material. For fans of history and drama.
I liked this. It was the only version of the Hamlet story I've ever seen that used the Saxo Grammaticus original, and I got a kick out of that. The costumes, sets and locales were authentic, for once. I particularly like the addition of a sauna. If you didn't recognize this as the Hamlet story, you might think it simple-minded, but I thought it was wonderful to see Hamlet's bare bones, as it were.
Danish director Gabriel Axel sets out to tell the real history of the sixth century King of Jutland(Denmark) moving away from the Anglesized version of the story by Shakespeare and giving a better feeling version. I, like many people was not sure what to expect when I ordered the DVD, having just seen the American title (Royal Deceit) and being fascinated by it. Little did I know what treat was in store. Gabriel Byrne again proves why he is one of our busier actors today as the malevolent Fenge, plotting treachery behind every smile. And Christian Bale is just outstanding as the supposed mad second son of the dead King of Jutland. Helen Mirren is up to her usual standards as the queen, and Kate Beckinsale is always a delight, especially in this role, so different than her characters in "Underworld" and "Van Helsing." It is also a pleasure to see Brian Cox ("X-Men II) in one of his rare good guy roles. It is not a big or a long film, but a well crafted, tightly directed gem of a film, especially for those whose tastes run to the historical.
Although I found the movie a little short, and some of the fighting scenes almost laughable, I found the acting incredibly well done..particularly by Gabriel Byrne (after seeing him in Little Women first I didn't know if he could pull of an evil character..he does!) I also found Christian Bales acting one of the best that I have seen in a long time..his knack for accents has been mentioned so many times it's getting almost annoying (not the accent..the mention of it..) but I was quite pleasantly pleased to find out just how good Christian Bale was at acting like a lunatic..with all the talent that he has, it's surprising that he doesn't have all of Hollywood chasing after him to be in their films!
This is certainly not a film for you if you prefer Hollywood productions. It has absolutely nothing to do with Shakespeare. Nor is it a film about Hamlet. It is, however, definitely a film about Amled, Prince of Jutland and follows, as such, the narrative by Saxo Grammaticus. The director has fully understood this and has carefully adjusted the tone and atmosphere of the film to match the ancient Viking saga. Life was simple in those days, as were the words. There is no melancholy, brooding and doubting prince in this film, there is only a prince with his heart set on calculated revenge with more than a spot of quick wit and humor. So, if you want to dive in and give this film a chance, you have to keep an open mind. If you do that, you're in for a unique experience that will broaden your horizon and teach you to appreciate alternative film making. IMO, one of the best saga films ever made.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie twice on TV while I was back home in Europe. I just
loved it! Even though it was a rather long movie (cannot remember now
was it 2 or 3 hours long). The story, a spin-off on Hamlet appealed to
me more than the actual Hamlet. To support that, all the actors did
But, after I came to US, I wanted to see it again and I rented the "Royal Deceit". First when I saw that it is 89 minutes long I was surprised because I remembered it as a long movie. Then more surprises followed - bad ones. The 89 (or 85) minute versions are just simply butchered! The 89 min version starts with the narrative in which they explain what happens before we get in the village and see the Amled acting as he does. Narative is a pretty sorry substitute for a superb acting at the beginning of the 3 hour long movie - and in that version no one gives you on the plate what is going on. It is not only the beginning that was cut - there are scenes cut out in all the important parts of the film. The 3 hour version has an additional charm that one discovers for him/herself what is going on.
In short, if you can, find the 3 hour version to see it. The 89 minute version is just a big time spoiler of a very good film - everything that weaves the story together is cut out. Another example how editing can undermine great acting and a script.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved this movie! It is for all of us who suffered through compulsory
Shakespeare in school. The needless suffering of intentionally
disastrous endings marked Shakespeare's tragedies. Those stories were
so horribly sad on every level that they reduced life and all its
ambitions to an expectation of sorrowful failure. Everyone dies for
little or no reason. I totally hated that crap! This is apparently a
story related to Hamlet. I never knew it existed. I noticed the
similarities straight away and kept anticipating needless tragedy.
Needless tragedy never came. I don't know if I would have liked it if
not for my knowledge of Shakespeare's Hamlet and my general contempt
for needless tragedy.
The story followed an almost fable-like formula. It was production on the fly with a great economy of scale. That is to say the scenes had just enough to carry the story and no more. The fight scenes and swordplay are very different from today's carefully choreographed, terribly graphic violence. During one of the fight scenes, I wondered if this scrappy, badly improvised fighting was actually more realistic than what we normally get from big productions. All the real fights I have seen looked nothing like a movie fight due to the considerable clumsiness of the fighters.
This movie had witty and clever moments. I thought they fit well within the main context of a revenge plot. Of course, they could have spent more money and had a larger production but why bother? I think it would be cool if Royal Deceit could run this summer in place of Shakespeare in the Park's Hamlet. It could make people happy for a change.
This reminded me of some delightful Viking tales I discovered decades ago. Tales of individual heroism, conquest, love and so on. Fables are fun! And finally something not completely nihilistic from IFC. What a relief that was.
This is a retelling of the Hamlet story that tries to show it as realistically as possible in its actual historic setting. The "noble" princes and kings of the Shakespearean stage were a grubby lot in real life. The average suburban American lives more regally than they ever dreamed of. If you can get past that, and ignore Shakespeare's ghost, you might enjoy this movie on its own terms. Something else you might have to get past, and a major problem facing any director who wants to do something like this, is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The giggles you hear in the audience are people being reminded of their favorite scenes from it. Unfair, but there it is.
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