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Hamlet (2000)

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Reviews: 164 user | 84 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

Modern-day New York City adaptation of Shakespeare's immortal story about Hamlet's plight to avenge his father's murder.

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Storyline

New York, 2000. A specter in the guise of the newly-dead CEO of Denmark Corporation appears to Hamlet, tells of murder most foul, demands revenge, and identifies the killer as Claudius, the new head of Denmark, Hamlet's uncle and now step-father. Hamlet must determine if the ghost is truly his father, and if Claudius did the deed. To buy time, Hamlet feigns madness; to catch his uncle's conscience, he invites him to watch a film he's made that shows a tale of murder. Finally convinced of Claudius's guilt, Hamlet must avenge his father. Claudius now knows Hamlet is a threat and even uses Ophelia, Hamlet's love, in his own plots against the young man. Murder will out? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

12 July 2000 (Belgium)  »

Also Known As:

Amlet 2000  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$17,432 (UK) (15 December 2000)

Gross:

$17,432 (UK) (15 December 2000)
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Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Diane Venora, who plays Queen Gertrude, played Ophelia in a made-for-television version of Great Performances: Hamlet (1990) starring and directed by 'Kevin Kline (I)'. See more »

Goofs

In the fencing bout on the rooftop, Hamlet and Laertes are dressed in modern foil fencing gear (with electric vests) but use épées instead of foils. See more »

Quotes

Hamlet: The play's the thing, with which I'll catch the conscience of the king.
See more »

Connections

References Lost in Space (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 1: First Movement
(excerpt)
Music by Johannes Brahms
Played when Hamlet rides in the limousine
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User Reviews

The Film's the Thing
3 July 2000 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Is this Hamlet? Depends on who you ask I suppose.

There are some who would require the plot and drama: a son whose inheritance is interrupted, so who may be imagining the murder of his father; a vapid, doting, hedonistic mother; a loyal, by the book counselor, his earnest son and brilliant daughter, she smitten by the prince. A scheming king -- wheels turn and everyone dies.

Some would consider the language the essential element. This is the poet's most convoluted, and heavily annotated metaphoric fabric. Shakespeare is most often celebrated for his layering and interelating of mental images, and certainly this work is his most globally elaborate (sorry).

But just as the language rides on the drama, the ideas of the play ride on the metaphors. These ideas are life-altering in their starkness: Reality, thought, creation, intent, the cause and validity of unnatural action, relationships among cocreated internal worlds. Much of this is developed in frightening and challenging terms. To my tastes, the ideas are what is important. Too many Hamlets (notably Olivier's)faithfully include the first two and never touch the third. I'd buy a complete abandonment of the first, but cannot see how one could get to the third without most of the second.

Now. This film. They have preserved the plot well enough for a film, I suppose. And they have kept the language, about one third of it anyway.

The bad:

Bill Murray is lost in Polonius, utterly lost. The production quality is poor -- that fits the film school motif (see below), but there is no excuse for the many boom mikes sticking down. They repurposed so much to fit the new setting, so why stick with swords at the end?

The biggest complaint is that they missed all the ideas, the big ones. The central example is at the end of the first act, where Hamlet says: `there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' Hamlet, and Horatio are students of Wittenburg philosophy, which audiences would have understood as that of the magi Giordano Bruno, martyred by the Pope. (His book is the one Hamlet quotes when asked `what is the matter?,' and Bruno is also quoted in the northnorthwest and hawk from a handsaw lines.) The play has much to do with understanding Bruno's questions of thought and action. When Hamlet differentiates himself from Horatio, the play really starts. In this film, though, the `your' becomes `our.' Why?

The Good:

This Ophelia is wonderful. I don't know her other work yet, but it includes two other Shakespeare adaptations. She certainly was helped by the woman director, who amplifies the female roles in emotion if not screentime. She even transforms Marcello into a Marcella, Horatio's girlfriend. Rather nice. Also well done is the staging of the Rosenkrantz and Guilderstern dialog.

The central device of the film is rather clever, if not original. The play is deeply self-referential. All the rich text about introspection is what is usually cut in the name of modern impatience, and that is the case here. Also gone here is the sharply self-referential scenes of Hamlet lecturing the players. What we have in its place is self-reference about film, and filming. Hamlet and Horatio, indeed R&G and Marcella are all film students. He thinks in film (actually video), and all his ruminations are cast in visual terms, often in the context of video, even a Blockbuster store. The final chorus is in video, and much of the action is seen through surveillance cameras. The play-within-the-play is a homemade video, with clear film-school effects.

This is not as clever as it could have been in the hands of a master. (Or when the goals are exceedingly simple as in `American Beauty.') But it is an honest attempt to cast the reflexive depth of the play in cinematic terms.

Sam Shepard is the best King Hamlet's ghost I have ever seen. He is a solid blessing.

This is a respectable effort, and deserves to be viewed if not celebrated.


36 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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