A unique, behind-the-scenes look at Shakespeare's great play. In 1988, rising star Kenneth Branagh played the Prince of Denmark for the first time. His guide through four weeks of ... See full summary »

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Himself / Hamlet
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Himself / Horatio
Richard Easton ...
Himself / Claudius
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Edward Jewesbury ...
Himself / Polonius
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Herself / Ophelia
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Himself / Guildenstern
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A unique, behind-the-scenes look at Shakespeare's great play. In 1988, rising star Kenneth Branagh played the Prince of Denmark for the first time. His guide through four weeks of rehearsals at England's Birmingham Repertory Theatre: famed actor Derek Jacobi, "the best Hamlet of his generation" (New York Times). Watch what happens from the first dress rehearsal to the tension-filled opening night. Narrated by Patrick Stewart. Written by Anonymous

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Narrator: In the history of dramatic literature, there is one name that will always be remembered.
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A dry run for Branagh's Hamlet
1 March 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

For those who have seen Kenneth Branagh's film version of "Hamlet" from 1996, this documentary will be of interest since it shows the development of the stage production in which Branagh first learned the part, under the direction of (Sir) Derek Jacobi, in Birmingham in 1990.

The actors learn their parts from scratch in four weeks for this production, which was staged in Edwardian costume. Although the fact is never stated explicitly, the performers are learning their lines from the green Arden Shakespeare paperback edition of the play (Routledge, London, 1989).

Director Jacobi has some novel ideas for his staging, including having Hamlet deliver his soliloquy TO OPHELIA.

Several of the faces in this production are familiar from other Kenneth Branagh films. David Parfitt, who only fills the unenviable role of Rosencrantz here, went on to become a producer and numbers last year's "Shakespeare in Love" among his credits.

This one-hour film works well enough as a document, but it is unfortunately light on penetration and insight. We are not even informed of the ultimate success or failure of this staging in the eyes of critics at the time.


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