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Discovering Hamlet -- 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.


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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... See more » | Add synopsis »
(3 articles)
[DVD Review] Discovering Hamlet
 (From JustPressPlay. 10 March 2011, 6:00 AM, PST)

DVD Review - Discovering Hamlet
 (From 19 January 2011, 12:00 PM, PST)

DVD Playhouse: December 2010
 (From The Hollywood Interview. 19 December 2010, 5:17 PM, PST)

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Good Look at the Stage Play See more (4 total) »



Kenneth Branagh ... Himself / Hamlet

Richard Clifford ... Himself / Horatio
Richard Easton ... Himself / Claudius

Derek Jacobi ... Himself
Edward Jewesbury ... Himself / Polonius

David Parfitt ... Himself / Rosencrantz

Patrick Stewart ... Narrator (voice)

Sophie Thompson ... Herself / Ophelia
Jay Villiers ... Himself / Laertes
Jimmy Yuill ... Himself / Guildenstern

Dearbhla Molloy ... Gertrude (uncredited)

Directed by
Mark Olshaker 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Mark Olshaker 
William Shakespeare  play "Hamlet"

Produced by
Larry Klein .... producer

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

53 min

Did You Know?

[first lines]
Narrator:In the history of dramatic literature, there is one name that will always be remembered.
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Good Look at the Stage Play, 18 July 2012
Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY

Discovering Hamlet (1990)

*** (out of 4)

Extremely fascinating documentary taking a look at Hamlet, being brought to the stage by first time director Derek Jacobi with Kenneth Branagh in the lead. The documentary really gives one a crash course on the Shakespeare play in general as we start off hearing about the various legends who have played the part throughout the years and then we get to the production of this play. Jacobi, who at one time played Hamlet, goes into very good detail about the various jobs he has to do in regards to directing for the first time and we see him not only help the actors but also make decisions on lighting, costume and how scenes should be staged. Also fascinating to hear is that they're working on such a small stage that the director really has tough decisions to make to try and get the scene to work on such a smaller scale. Branagh goes into great detail about his thoughts on the play as well as the various changes that the character goes through. Some of the most interesting moments deals with the behind-the-scenes look at the rehearsals where the star and director discuss the character and scenes. I'd also say that this documentary is probably stronger today than it was when it was originally released simply because we all know that Branagh went on to make his own film version of the play so it's interesting to see and hear his thoughts here compared to what they were in the theatrical film. At just 52-minutes there's no question that this isn't the definitive look at Hamlet but if you're new to the subject then I think this documentary is a good place to start.

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