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
Written and Performed by Michael Hurley
Published by Snocko Music (BMI)
Administered by Bug Music, Inc.
Master Recording Courtesy of Field Recordings, Inc.
By Arrangement with Bug Music, Inc. See more »
This is "Hamlet 2000"..... Yes that's what its called. This is basically a modernization of the classic William Shakespeare play with the same title. Sounds like a.....good....idea? Well though it can definitely get pulled off BUT much like the modern day Romeo and Juliet the dialogue is identical to the play from 400 years ago. So there is old English and it doesn't fit at all with the modern day setting. It's incredibly distracting and unfitting. "Modernizing" all the dialogue not even a little bit just doesn't work and you better don't give me the business as a excuse to keep this movie timeless because it's already 15 years old and incredibly out of date. There are fax machines, VHS tapes, and hilarious early 2000s outfits scattered out throughout the movie, it already doesn't hold up.
Unlike the Romeo and Juliet (96) which had a ton of stylized cinematography and pacing Hamlet 2000 is mundane, grey and not fun to look at. The setting is in some generic apartment building witch isn't visually stimulating. Though there is occasional creative shots here and there, they are far and few between. But to be honest Hamlet 2000 was pretty low budget and it shows its measly 2 million dollar budget in the lack of visuals and couldn't get close to the epic scale, beautiful shots, from the Oscar nominated Hamlet 1996
Little skill was used in the directing as most scenes were people sitting around barely moving. Acting for the most part is wooden and unconvincing. Half the lines are barely audible and most people speak in mumble. I felt like the actors had no clue what they were saying. I barely knew what they were saying. The casting wasn't that good either, Ethan Hawke as Hamlet; Bill Murray as Polonius? What? That doesn't sound right and they just phoned in every scene. Julia Stiles's character Ofelia has a scene where she screams in fear comes off as unintentionally hilarious because it looked like she didn't care at all. One take seems like most they ever did and it makes the movies genre to be a "Thriller" to be underwhelming.
The respect for the source material could be taken as offensive. The famous "To Be or Not To Be" speech is filmed in a blockbuster while Ethan Hawke has the goofiest outfit imaginable. Nice product placement there buddy! Then all of a sudden you see Hamlet 2000 watching the actual Hamlet on TV? Wh-what?! How does that even work? Just imagine if its Back to the Future 2 and in it the main characters are seen watching Back to the Future 1 on television. It shouldn't even be in the same universe.
The play Hamlet puts on is changed to a pretentious "The Ring" like VHS tape though I kind of like that scene. Sound mixing is muffled a bit though it could've been the VHS copy I was watching. But there was barely any music in the movie when there was it was incredibly generic. There's a scene that takes place in a party and the characters are still mumbling to each other while blaring music is playing. How do they hear each other? This could be the fault of some mediocre editing which has some flashbacks or visions that don't really add to the film at all.
This is one of the shorter Hamlet movies to get released just running less than 2 hours which is definitely useful if you wanted a quick summary of the story. And its not a horrible film its definitely watchable and its pretty innocent experiment. When it was released it was well received surprisingly reaching a 70/100 on Metacritic it hasn't aged well however. Hamlet 2000 is still fun to poke at with a group of people. But still there are tons of other adaptions of Hamlet that should be checked out like the 1948 and 1996 ones. Hamlet 2000 gets a 4/10
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