Mike Church is a Los Angeles private detective who specializes in finding missing persons. He takes on the case of a mystery woman who he calls Grace. She is suffering from amnesia and has ... See full summary »
In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German ... See full summary »
Hannah Taylor Gordon,
Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
Joe's a car salesman with a problem. He has two days to sell 12 cars or he loses his job. This would be a difficult task at the best of times but Joe has to contend with his girlfriends (... See full summary »
Injured while risking his life to save an angry German shepard, Chicago Firefighter Jack Moniker retires and moves to a small carribean island named St. Nicholas. There, he is befriended by... See full summary »
By working through problems stemming from his past, Tom Warshaw, an American artist living in Paris, begins to discover who he really is, and returns to his home to reconcile with his family and friends.
Tommy Wilhelm (Robin Williams) is a salesman. An honest, hard-working guy who has lost his job, his girlfriend, and left part of his sanity behind as he heads to New York to pick up the ... See full summary »
Richard B. Shull,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
None of the palatial interiors are really the inside of Blenheim Palace. They are actually studio-built interiors. All that is actually shown of the Palace are the exterior of it, and the gardens. See more »
After Hamlet speaks with his father in his woods, while he runs and is met by Marcellus and Horatio, there is a quick pan shot in the woods where you see a ladder covered by a long board on the ground. See more »
Now mother, what's the matter?
Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
Mother, you have *my* father much offended.
Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue!
Why, how now, Hamlet?
What's the matter now?
Have you forgot me?
No by the rood, not so! You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife!
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As a play, Hamlet is an anchor of civilization, and even moderately successful films are worth seeing. But in making the translation to film, the artist has two challenges.
The first concerns the work as drama. This is Shakespeare's most ambitious vision, one he tinkered with and enlarged both conceptually and literally. The purest choice, the only choice which can encompass the full weave of the work, is to include everything -- and that's what Branagh has done. Consequently, this work has extra dimensions of life. In doing so, he's included some nice touches:
--gone are superficial hints of mother-lust in the closet scene. These were never in the text.
--we are reminded that Hamlet's initial and sustaining anger is because his uncle jumped into the line of succession
--we see the hints that Hamlet was a student of Bruno in the book on witchcraft he consults after seeing the ghost. Also his book on `matters' (often thought to be Bruno's) is actually given to Ophelia. Nice. Shows deep research.
--Polonius is treated humanely, as more than a dottering fool. This makes Ophelia's loss (and earlier obedience) believable.
The second challenge is cinematic. The play was written for sparse settings; it translates naturally to audio tape and unnaturally to film. So the filmmaker has an open palette. Branagh makes some interesting choices. Many work extremely well, in particular the mirrors in the `to be' and Ophelia sequence. Others are strange:
--he introduces recognizable actors in secondary roles to jar us into the realization that this is a play. (One of these is really funny. How do you portray an actor among actors playing non-actors. Well, you get a noticeably BAD actor. I wonder if Heston knows he'll be goofed on for this for many decades as this film outlives his sandled perorations.)
--he introduces some almost satirical film reflections: a cheesy ghost, an Errol Flynn chandelier swing...
--he provides visual overlays for some of the images implied in the text: Hamlet's lovemaking, considerations in Norway, reflections of the players. This ruins a few of the important ambiguities but we do have a wealth to spend after all.
--in perhaps the worst loss of ambiguity, he makes Fortinbras an invader. This is done only to allow for some cinematic sweep at the end. Okay, I'll reluctantly buy it since the alternative is extended mugging in the death scenes.
I think Branagh and collaborators meet the first challenge nearly perfectly. As to the second challenge, this is our very best film version, in part because of extending the US tradition of playing the characters as real people (versus the UK tradition of characters as speechifiers). So far as the cinematic challenge, there are some great, really great visions here, but there are also some big cinematic misses which keeps this far from perfect. Until Greenaway attempts it, this is the best film Hamlet we have, and that simply makes it one of the best, most rewarding films ever. I'll bet Branagh tries again before he dies.
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