7.0/10
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Hamlet Goes Business (1987)

Hamlet liikemaailmassa (original title)
A bizarre black-and-white film noir reworking of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. After the death of his father, young Hamlet inherits a seat on the board of a company controlled by his uncle that ... See full summary »

Director:

Aki Kaurismäki

Writer:

Aki Kaurismäki
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Pirkka-Pekka Petelius ... Hamlet
Esko Salminen ... Klaus
Kati Outinen ... Ofelia
Elina Salo ... Gertrud
Esko Nikkari Esko Nikkari ... Polonius
Kari Väänänen ... Lauri Polonius
Puntti Valtonen Puntti Valtonen ... Simo (as Hannu Valtonen)
Mari Rantasila ... Helena
Turo Pajala ... Rosencranz
Aake Kalliala Aake Kalliala ... Gyldenstern
Pentti Auer Pentti Auer ... Isä / Haamu
Matti Pellonpää ... Vartija
Vesa Mäkelä Vesa Mäkelä ... Lääkäri
Maija Leino Maija Leino ... 1. näyttelijätär
Pertti Sveholm Pertti Sveholm ... 2. näyttelijä
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Storyline

A bizarre black-and-white film noir reworking of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. After the death of his father, young Hamlet inherits a seat on the board of a company controlled by his uncle that decides to move into the rubber duck market. But Hamlet is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding his father's death... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The script was written in a very loose form and according to Aki Kaurismäki he only read Hamlet on the very week he wrote the script just a couple of weeks before filming. See more »

Quotes

Gertrud: [Hamlet is discussing with his mother] What I am going to say now is not just a whim. You'll understand if you just want to. I loved your father as much as you can demand a good wife to love a tyrant who never returns love, giving you as much passion as he gives to the winter tires of his car.
Hamlet: I ask you not to tarnish my father's memory.
Gertrud: I've been silent too long to gloss over the facts.
Gertrud: Then get to the point.
Gertrud: I'm going to marry Klaus. I love him.
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Connections

Version of Gran teatro: Hamlet (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 7 in C major/Sinfonia nro 7 C-duuri op. 60 ('Leningrad')
Composed by Dmitri Shostakovich
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User Reviews

 
A different and intriguing take on Shakespeare's tragedy.
24 September 2006 | by MaxBorg89See all my reviews

It's not that easy to make a Shakespeare adaptation set in our time. There have been successful attempts, such as Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet, but most modern-day versions of the bard's plays are doomed to oblivion. That's not the case of Hamlet Goes Business, Aki Kaurismäki's film noir take on the classic.

Actually, it's more of a black comedy, similarly to Calamari Union (coincidentally, or maybe not, both films were shot in black and white), Kaurismäki's satire on Finnish lowlife. This time, the target is the big industry, within which Hamlet (Pirkka-Pekka Petelius, who also played one of the Franks in Calamari Union) is raised a spoiled brat, spending his days doing mostly nothing, bar flirt with Ofelia (Kati Outinen), whose father (Esko Nikkari) is an important business associate of Hamlet's dad. Then suddenly the situation changes, as the old man is found dead and his brother, Klaus (Esko Salminen) takes over everything, including the marital duties with Hamlet's mother (Elina Salo). Our grief-struck hero is subsequently forced into action after discovering Klaus isn't that innocent: he poisoned his own brother. Hence the inevitable questions: what should Hamlet do? Leave the murderer alone or avenge his father's assassination? In short, to be or not to be?

Ironically, we never hear the protagonist say those words, or the rest of the soliloquy, for that matter. Kaurismäki cut the entire speech because according to him it was ridiculous, useless and distracting, a waste of time: Hamlet would be too busy to start reflecting on life's meaning.

Apart from that (and a few tweaks at the end), Hamlet Goes Business follows Shakespeare's text very closely, albeit with the satirical tone. In fact, the movie's sole weakness is the fact that it gets a little too overblown and surreal come the conclusion, with set-pieces that are funny, yes, but slightly inappropriate in this kind of film.

That said, the film is worth a viewing, if you're open-minded enough. If not, stick with Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh: at least you'll get to hear the famous soliloquy.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Finland

Language:

Finnish

Release Date:

21 August 1987 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Hamlet Goes Into Business See more »

Filming Locations:

Helsinki, Finland

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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