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A Midwinter's Tale (1995)
"In the Bleak Midwinter" (original title)

R  |   |  Comedy  |  16 February 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,975 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 24 critic

Out of work actor Joe volunteers to help try and save his sister's local church for the community by putting on a Christmas production of Hamlet, somewhat against the advice of his agent ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Wakefield (Claudius, the Ghost, and the Player King)
Hetta Charnley ...
Margaretta D'Arcy
Tom Newman (Laertes, Fortinbras, and messengers)
Mark Hadfield ...
Vernon Spatch (Polonius, Marcellus, and First Gravedigger)
Gerard Horan ...
Carnforth Greville (Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Horatio, and Barnardo)
Nancy Crawford
Nina Raymond (Ophelia)
Terry Du Bois (Queen Gertrude)
Ann Davies ...
Mrs. Branch
James D. White ...
Robert Hines ...
Allie Byrne ...
Tap Dancer


Out of work actor Joe volunteers to help try and save his sister's local church for the community by putting on a Christmas production of Hamlet, somewhat against the advice of his agent Margaretta. As the cast he assembles are still available even at Christmas and are prepared to do it on a 'profit sharing' basis (that is, they may not get paid anything) he cannot expect - and does not get - the cream of the cream. But although they all bring their own problems and foibles along, something bigger starts to emerge in the perhaps aptly named village of Hope. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The drama. The passion. The intrigue... And the rehearsals haven't even started.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Midwinter's Tale  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$346,839 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

See  »

Did You Know?


According to Kenneth Branagh "one of the greatest pleasures I has was when we had a screening on a Sunday morning in the West End. And most of the crew and cast came, including Joan Collins. I'd paid for the film myself with the money I made from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), and we sold it at a profit. The books were completely open. And as they left the cinema that morning, we had all the envelopes laid out and we gave everybody a cheque - including Joan Collins, who nearly fell over. She said, 'I've been in the business for quite a long time, and this has never happened.' She opened it and she said, 'F**king hell!' Because it was not inconsiderable." See more »


Joe Harper: Let me introduce you to our designer. This is Fadge.
Nina Raymond: Did he say "Vag"?
Tom Newman: I'm glad she uses the abbreviation.
See more »


References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »


In The Bleak Midwinter
Written by Gustav Holst
Arranged by Jimmy Yuill
See more »

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User Reviews

Hamlet as a comedy, what could be better?
22 May 2002 | by (NY, NY) – See all my reviews

I love this film. It is small, and quiet, and it is rather unexpectedly in black and white. It opens like a documentary, and then slips you right into the role of fly on the wall for the rest of the film.

The ensemble is terrific and keep an eye on the facial expressions of the actors who are not actually speaking. A lot of Branagh regulars make welcome appearances. The "look" is wonderfully textured and layered, taking advantage of b/w. Ironically, I prefer many of "Joe's" interpretations of Hamlet to the same scenes in the various film versions I've seen, including Branagh's epic version. Of course, the version they perform is designed for the stage, with a mostly live audience....

My favorite aspect of this film is that it turns a production of Hamlet into a "neo-pseudo-Shakespearean comedy." The parallels between the characters in Hamlet still exist in the players in A Midwinter's Tale. They've been updated and personalized so that Joe's comment that "the play is about loss" works equally well for the film. But, just as almost everyone is dead at the end of a Shakespearean tragedy, everyone is paired up at the end of MT. Of course, as a modern work it can't just end in weddings, but happy endings abound for everyone.

The cleverness of this all is that there is naughty, campy, frivolous humour which hides deep emotional pain, uncertainty, and even tragedy. Anyone who is familiar with Shakespeare's comedies will be familiar with that dark edge which contrasts the joyous romping. Then there are the requisite farcical elements to make the parallel complete.

The only unresolved issues I had at the end of the film/play were "how will Molly handle the fencing scene?" and "how is it possible for Henry to be both Claudius and the Player King?" But I'm not about to gripe about these little points when everything else is tied up so neatly and well.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Finally, a year and a half late, on DVD 12/7/10 luckard
Directors Cameo? scary-man
Ooooh Ken! Why aren't you writing more like this...?? braavhart
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On DVD at last!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!! luckard
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