6.7/10
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101 user 38 critic

Hamlet (1990)

PG | | Drama | 18 January 1991 (USA)
Trailer
1:42 | Trailer
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, finds out that his uncle Claudius killed his father to obtain the throne, and plans revenge.

Director:

Franco Zeffirelli

Writers:

William Shakespeare (based on the play by), Christopher De Vore (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mel Gibson ... Hamlet
Glenn Close ... Gertrude
Alan Bates ... Claudius
Paul Scofield ... The Ghost
Ian Holm ... Polonius
Helena Bonham Carter ... Ophelia
Stephen Dillane ... Horatio
Nathaniel Parker ... Laertes
Sean Murray Sean Murray ... Guildenstern
Michael Maloney ... Rosencrantz
Trevor Peacock ... The Gravedigger
John McEnery ... Osric
Richard Warwick ... Bernardo
Christien Anholt ... Marcellus
Dave Duffy Dave Duffy ... Francisco
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Storyline

Hamlet returns to Denmark when his father, the King, dies. His mother Gertrude has already married Hamlet's uncle Claudius, the new King. They urge Hamlet to marry his beloved Ophelia. But soon the ghost of Hamlet's father appears and tells Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius and Gertrude. Hamlet must choose between passive acquiescence and the need for a vengeance which might lead to tragedy. Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The extraordinary adaptation of Shakespeare's classic tale of vengeance and tragedy.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

About Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" monologue, many critics have complained for decades about the line: "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them?" The complaint is that Hamlet is mixing metaphors: Fortune (Fate) does not actually shoot arrows at people, and you can't use your swords against the sea. The assumption seems to be that Shakespeare was too tired, or too lazy, to fit metaphorical causes with metaphorical effects. Shakespeare (and therefore Hamlet) were too smart to be that sloppy in their speech. Hamlet is complaining that these forces (fate and the ocean) are precisely too abstract, too formless, too monstrous, and too inhuman for a human to use weapons against - arrows against a vague idea such as Fortune, or swords and knives against an ocean. You can't fight on those levels. Hamlet was grieving, but he was never stupid. See more »

Goofs

The hole in the curtain when Polonius is stabbed. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Claudius: Hamlet! Think of us as of a father. For let the world take note: you are the most immediate to our throne. And with no less nobility of love than that which dearest father bears his son do I impart toward you.
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Alternate Versions

One American print, which as of January 2016 appears on Paramount's Vault Channel on YouTube, features no credits overlaid during the first two minutes of the film as seen on most prints (aside from the title) and the same goes for the end titles, which leaves only a black screen with music, followed by the Paramount logo. It is unknown how or why there are essentially no credits at all on this print; it is most likely an accident that the distributor was unaware of. See more »

Connections

Version of Hamlet (1917) See more »

User Reviews

Shockingly Disappointing
22 June 1999 | by mikkenSee all my reviews

Hamlet - Possibly the greatest play of all time and Zeffirelli and DeVore butchered it into an incoherent and unmoving series of events with flat characters who act without any apparent motivations. For example, Horatio (in the play) is the model of friendship and yet, we have no sense of that relationship between him and Hamlet. And what of poor Ophelia? Why did she go insane? Who Knows? She shows no true feelings for Hamlet except annoyance and fear. Her father treats her like a dog. She seems to love her brother, Laertes, and he is safe in France so what's there to go mad about? Polonius is just a jerk and there is no indication of his political motives and fawning manipulations. The Ghost is a weepy shadow of his former self and conveys none of the anger or horror of his own murder.

So here you have weak, flat and uninteresting characters in a script that can only be described as a jumbled perversion of the original. ("Get thee to a nunnery" during the play?!?!) One is forced to laugh in many places where laughter is not intended ("Meet it is I set it down..."), but it is a bitter laugh at best. Unbelievable. I must find great fault in the direction, also. How Zeffirelli can misuse such accomplished actors as Ian Holm and Paul Scofield is beyond me. Also Michael Maloney (who was able to read a line with honest conviction of his character despite the director) was so appallingly underused that one could only feel sorry for him. This is exactly the type of Shakespeare that you were exposed to in high school. You remember those days. Long, mind-numbing readings of Romeo and Juliet followed by that horrible Olivia Hussey film? It was enough to make you hate the Bard. Rent Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. It is infinitely superior to Zeffirelli's. Branagh's passion for the play is more than evident and his skill in bringing it to the screen is unsurpassed. Branagh exemplifies why Shakespeare's work has survived so long. Zeffirelli illustrates why high school kids see it as an endurance trial.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 January 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hamlet See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$116,975, 25 December 1990

Gross USA:

$20,710,451

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$20,710,451
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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