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(1996)

Parents Guide

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Certification

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MPAA Rated PG-13 for some violent images and sexuality
Certification

Sex & Nudity

  • A few brief love scenes between Hamlet and Ophelia. They roll around nude in bedsheets for a few frames. While this is shown, we hear Ophelia and Polonius in voiceover reciting some of Shakespeare's dialogue, so there is no heavy breathing or moaning during the sex scene.

Violence & Gore

  • While the First Player (Charlton Heston) is reciting the poem of the death of Priam, we see the events happening. There is no real violence in this scene, just a lot of confusion, shots of the dead Priam (John Gielgud) and the grieving Hecuba (Judi Dench).
  • Sentry guards throw their spears at the ghost but they end up flying through thin air.
  • Hamlet knocks over furniture in anger.
  • Polonius is a bit rough with Ophelia (dragging her along, banging her into walls) as he talks to her.
  • Claudius slaps Hamlet on the face.
  • Laertes attacks Hamlet at a funeral and has to be pulled off him.
  • As an advancing army attacks the castle, many outside guards are killed and others inside are wounded or killed as the soldiers burst through the windows.
  • While reciting the "Get thee to a nunnery speech", Hamlet realizes that Claudius and Polonius may be spying on him; he then grabs Ophelia by the hair, pushes her face up against a mirror, and treats her as if he wanted to scratch her face with the glass.

Profanity

  • Many uses of the word "damn", "hell", "ass", 1 use of "bastard" and 1 use of "God" as exclamations.

Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

  • Since the production design is updated to the 19th century, we see Polonius smoking in one scene.
  • A Sentry guard drinks from a flask.
  • Horatio drinks from the same flask after being unnerved when he first sees the Ghost.
  • Claudius quickly guzzles down drink after drink as he makes his way to Gertrude's bedroom.
  • Claudius is a heavy drinker.
  • Claudius and Laertes drink wine.
  • A grave digger smokes.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • A few of the appearances by the ghost of Hamlet's father may be quite frightening to younger children. What seems to be an earthquake occurs when Hamlet meets the Ghost. The Ghost speaks in an amplified, unearthly whisper.
  • Many skulls are shown during the scene in the graveyard; this may bother children.
  • Hamlet's anger in several scenes is so intense that it may bother children. His near-hysteria in the play scene, as he waits for the outcome, is also quite intense, perhaps more so than in any other "Hamlet".

Spoilers

The Parents Guide items below may give away important plot points.

Sex & Nudity

  • There are lines in the play referring to men lying between women's legs and to "making love" and at another time, Ophelia drops to the floor, spreads her legs and gyrates her hips and down (after she has gone insane over her father's death).

Violence & Gore

  • Claudius is run through with a sword. An imagined scene between Hamlet and Claudius shows Hamlet thrusting his dagger into Claudius' ear and blood spurts out. The Queen dies by accidentally drinking poison meant for Hamlet.
  • While the Ghost of Hamlet's Father is telling Hamlet how he, the Ghost, was murdered, we see the act re-enacted as in Olivier's 1948 film version, but this time the scene is gory, while in the Olivier film it was not. At one point we see a closeup of a human ear with blood and pus spurting out. Rather gross, but it lasts for only a second.
  • Hamlet kills Polonius with a sword through a curtain. Unlike other Hamlets who stab him only once, Branagh's Hamlet stabs Polonius through the curtain several times, wildly and hysterically. Polonius falls out from behind the curtain in a pool of blood.
  • Laertes kills Hamlet with a poisoned sword.
  • Laertes threatens Claudius with his sword after Polonius' death.
  • It's reported that Ophelia drowned (herself).
  • There is a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes where a little blood is drawn on both of their shoulders. The two smash into walls and Laertes ends up falling from a balcony, also with a poisoned foil wound.
  • A man accidentally stabs himself in the stomach with his own knife.
  • Hamlet sends a chandelier crashing into the trapped king.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • Some viewers may find the final fight sequence between Hamlet and Laertes to be somewhat tense, as it is intended to be. This is supposed to be a harmless show of fencing, using swords with blunt tips so that nobody will get hurt, but Laertes, who is out for revenge, cheats by using a sharp-tipped sword and, on top of that, poisons the tip of the blade so that Hamlet will die even if he is only scratched lightly rather than stabbed.

See also

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