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Hamlet (1996)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  25 December 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 29,284 users  
Reviews: 221 user | 83 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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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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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 ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

William Shakespeare's Hamlet  »

Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$148,321 (USA) (27 December 1996)


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The construction of the interiors of the "Elsinore Castle" set (actually Blenheim Palace) cost $2 million alone. The exteriors are simply the exteriors of the palace and had already been standing since 1784. See more »


Light stand visible in the mirror just before and during a soliloquy. See more »


Polonius: [Talking aside to himself] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't!
See more »


Referenced in Brows Held High: Tromeo & Juliet (2012) See more »


In Youth When I Did Love
Written by William Shakespeare
Performed by Billy Crystal
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Its virtues outweigh its defects
12 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

First, what I didn't like. The acting was not really up to the Hamlet standard. Branagh was really over-the-top, doing a lot of yelling mostly. In my opinion, those actors who were not big-name celebrities generally did a better job; though I would except Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. (And Charlton Heston, too, but I wasn't sure if he was playing at being a hack.) A lot of the ambiguities in the play were clearly resolved one way in the flashbacks.

What I think speaks very much in this play's favor is that it is accessible. Shakespeare is hard to understand for the vast majority of people nowadays; many people are not even inclined to try, because of its reputation as Serious Literature and its archaic English. If they see this film they will understand clearly at least one man's interpretation of the play. They will be seeing it more as Shakespeare's audiences saw it: a play with sword fights and battles, and mighty kings and nobles, murder and incest and evil schemes and ghosts--and great art, if one cares to look for it, but in Shakespeare's day most didn't, any more than most people do now. Branagh's overacting, and his forcing of his interpretation of the story on the viewer, may detract from Shakespeare's art somewhat, but it is better that modern audiences get a piece of it, rather than nothing.

I've got to say one more thing though. Some people are complaining that "it's set in the 19th century and that wasn't Shakespeare's time". Well, in Shakespeare's time their costume and scenery was that of their own day for all of their plays. Shakespeare may have SAID it's in the days of ancient Rome or medieval Denmark or whatever, but he didn't dress his characters up like they were, he used the costumes of his own time. For the same reason his plays are full of anachronisms. For example, in King John the English and French have cannons--in Robin Hood's day. In Julius Caesar they talk of chimneys, which wouldn't be invented for another thousand years, and in Henry IV they talk about Machiavelli, who wasn't even born yet then. So I think this objection is silly--you might as well complain that the play isn't in Danish (after all they live in Denmark don't they?).

23 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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