Hamlet (1996) Blu-ray Review

"To be or not to be."

Of all the plays that William Shakespeare has written, none are as iconic as Hamlet. The tale of the troubled Prince of Elsinore has stood the test of time, resonating through four centuries worth of various stage and screen interpretations and endless analysis from scholars (among countless others) worldwide. While the world of live theater may have provided opportunities to present The Bard.s work in its entirety, its cinematic cousin has been little more than kin and less than kind.

Even in the most accomplished of motion picture adaptations, namely Laurence Olivier.s 1948 Best Picture winner, much of the play was condensed or even removed altogether. When it comes to a movie adaptation, truncation does make sense. After all, a full-length film version of Hamlet would undoubtedly run three and a half hours or longer which is the modern-day financial kiss of death
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[DVD Review] Hamlet

Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet is nothing if not an accomplishment; it was designed to be that if nothing else. One could only look at The Passion of the Christ to find such a vainglorious act of hubris in the last decade, both in terms of bridging the space between the western canon and popular culture and managing to preserve the text’s original language (this is the only Hamlet adaptation to keep the text entirely intact). It is remarkable that Branagh succeeds to the extent that he does, but in his success, he reveals the limitations of his very goal. Of his stated desire to bring Hamlet to the screen, Branagh has done exactly what he set out to do, and he does it well. Of his larger goal of creating a film language that effectively mimics that of the stage, he has revealed more about the differences between the
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Blu-Ray Review: Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Hamlet’ Was Made For HD

Chicago – Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” got a raw deal. In the shadow of not just the legend of William Shakespeare’s play but the incredible film versions that had come before, “Hamlet” couldn’t even break $5 million at the box office. And yet this gorgeous, incredibly-made retelling of one of the most influential pieces of theater ever written looks simply amazing on Blu-ray. It’s a fantastic release.

Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

Do we need to recap the plot of “Hamlet”? The most notable thing about Branagh’s version in that sense is that it’s a completely unabridged version of Shakespeare’s longest play. Consequently, it runs over four hours long and contains a number of scenes and dialogue exchanges that you’ve probably never seen if you’ve only seen two-hour versions of this tale of murder, revenge, and tragedy.

Hamlet was released on Blu-ray on August 17th, 2010

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
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