The RSC puts a modern spin on Shakespeare's Hamlet in this filmed-for-television version of their stage production. The Prince of Denmark seeks vengeance after his father is murdered and his mother marries the murderer.
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
First of all, this is a beautiful film. It does however, have many weak points. It is very reminiscent of the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet; but somehow it is not as powerful. Ethan Hawke bursts of adequatulence as Hamlet, but nothing more. Although he says his lines with true emotion, it doesn't seem like he understands what he is saying. The only true Shakespearin actor is Liev Schreiber (you'll recognize him from Scream. His portrayal of Laertes helps the viewer understand what is going on in the film; while the other actors manage only to confuse. It doesn't help that a great portion of the play; including the famous graveyard scene; are left out. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, modernization of Hamlet doesn't work well, at least not in this adaptation. Switching from swords to guns changes the plotline too much. For someone who hasn't read Hamlet, or seen another version, it might be hard to understand the plotline, especially becuase the audio tack is poor and muddled by traffic and background noise. On the other hand, those that are familiar with Hamlet may be disappointed with the performances and with the editing of the play. Although it may be a little long, I would recommend the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet to someone who wants to see a true vision of what Hamlet could be.
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