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Hamlet (1996)

 -  Drama | History  -  25 December 1996 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 26,589 users  
Reviews: 208 user | 80 critic

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

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Title: Hamlet (1996)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Riz Abbasi ...
Attendant to Claudius
...
David Blair ...
Attendant to Claudius
...
...
...
Michael Bryant ...
Peter Bygott ...
Attendant to Claudius
...
...
Charles Daish ...
Stage Manager
...
...
Reece Dinsdale ...
...
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Storyline

Hamlet, son of the king of Denmark, is summoned home for his father's funeral and his mother's wedding to his uncle. In a supernatural episode, he discovers that his uncle, whom he hates anyway, murdered his father. In an incredibly convoluted plot--the most complicated and most interesting in all literature--he manages to (impossible to put this in exact order) feign (or perhaps not to feign) madness, murder the "prime minister," love and then unlove an innocent whom he drives to madness, plot and then unplot against the uncle, direct a play within a play, successfully conspire against the lives of two well-meaning friends, and finally take his revenge on the uncle, but only at the cost of almost every life on stage, including his own and his mother's. Written by John Brosseau <brossj5683@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

denmark | madness | funeral | love | king | See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violent images and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

25 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

William Shakespeare's Hamlet  »

Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

ITL 95,996,000 (Italy) (16 May 1997)

Gross:

ITL 1,526,158,000 (Italy) (6 June 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title of Hamlet's play-within-a-play is "The Murder of Gonzago", which may or may not have been extrapolated from an Italian prose work. However, when asked its title by Claudius, Hamlet responds by bestowing on it a new moniker, which reflects its purpose (to "catch the conscience of the King") - he calls it "The Mousetrap". See more »

Goofs

The number of bones thrown out of the grave by the gravedigger. See more »

Quotes

Hamlet: For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
See more »

Connections

Version of Le duel d'Hamlet (1900) See more »

Soundtracks

In Pace
Performed by Plácido Domingo
Text researched and adapted by Russell Jackson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Branagh triumphant.
4 June 1999 | by (Marietta, GA, USA) – See all my reviews

What an ambitious project Kenneth Branagh undertook here and how well it was realized! This is the first filmed version of 'Hamlet' to use the full text of Shakespeare's play, but Branagh didn't do it just because "it was there." His intention, I believe, was to make the play accessible and understandable to the general viewer without dumbing it down, so to speak. In return he asks viewers to put in a little work themselves, a fair enough proposition and one that's a bargain.

The setting is a generic 19th century European one and this does more than work well, it keeps a modern or ancient look from possibly distracting from the work itself. The production design and cinematography and both outstanding, which helps immensely when you're watching a four-hour movie. Branagh's casting once again is inspired and the acting is likewise. The direction accomplishes the heavy task of making this a movie rather than a deluxe version of a play. Since so much of 'Hamlet' is based on interior monologue and there are relatively few duels, battles, etc., this can be a daunting task. But everything Branagh tries to do seems to work.

Branagh has always been one of the most interesting actor/writer/directors, if not always the best, since he made his big splash with 'Henry V.' One quibble I had with him was what I saw as a tendency to ham it up at times. In his portrayal of Hamlet here he might be accused of that again, but there is a method at work. Let's face it, 'Hamlet' is not an easy work for the average person to understand and if one has never seen it performed before, he or she needs help even if they've read the play. Hamlet has the most lines of any Shakespearian character and Branagh makes sure that his viewers know what this man is thinking and feeling throughout the film, even if you don't know the literal meaning of every arcane word. This performance by Branagh was at the very least worthy of an Oscar nomination.

There are so many other outstanding performances here they're almost too numerous to mention, but some of them must be acknowledged. Derek Jacobi as Claudius is superb but even he takes a back seat to Kate Winslet when it comes to handing out praise. Her portrayal of Ophelia is awesome in its depth of feeling, made only more outstanding by the knowledge that she was only about 20 years old at the time! She looks to me like the finest young actress around. Other super performers in no particular order are Richard Briers, Nicholas Farrell, Michael Maloney, and Reece Dinsdale and Timothy Spall as Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, respectively. Honorable mention goes to Julie Christie, Charlton Heston, and Robin Williams, who manages to do his thing here successfully. Even Billy Crystal as a gravedigger works. The one cast member who doesn't, inexplicably, is Jack Lemmon. In the very opening scene he appears, and while the other three actors do a great job at setting the tense mood, Lemmon sounds like he is just running lines in rehearsal as a favor. You know this must have been a real dilemma for Branagh, since everything else about the movies screams out that it's the work of a perfectionist.

Not to be facetious when speaking of a four-hour movie, but it does seem just a tad too long. Some monologues and conversations do tend to go on a bit, if I may be so bold, and a little bit of judicious pruning would be welcome.

Did I forget anything, other than Patrick Doyle's score? No doubt I did. I'll just sum up by saying that Kenneth Branagh may have made the definitive film version of 'Hamlet,' and it will be a truly monumental production that tops this one.


50 of 63 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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