7.1/10
1,563
8 user 9 critic

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
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An exodus to a better life in Eira

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Timo Eränkö, Kari Heiskanen, Asmo Hurula
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An adaptation of Dostoyevsky's novel, set in modern Helsinki. Slaughterhouse worker Rahikainen murders a man, and is forced to live with the consequences of his actions.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Markku Toikka, Aino Seppo, Esko Nikkari
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Lugubrious Finns Valto and Reino take to the road in search of coffee and vodka, without which their lives are not worth living. But their reveries are interrupted by the arrival of ... See full summary »

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Kati Outinen, Matti Pellonpää, Kirsi Tykkyläinen
Ariel (1988)
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A Finnish man goes to the city to find a job after the mine where he worked is closed and his father commits suicide.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Turo Pajala, Susanna Haavisto, Matti Pellonpää
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An episode in the life of Nikander, a garbage man, involving the death of a coworker, a love affair and much more.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Matti Pellonpää, Kati Outinen, Sakari Kuosmanen
Juha (1999)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A farmer's wife is seduced into running away from her stolid older husband by a city slicker, who enslaves her in a brothel.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Sakari Kuosmanen, Kati Outinen, André Wilms
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After fifteen years' service, Henri Boulanger is made redundant from his job. Shocked, he attempts suicide, but can't go through with it, so he hires a contract killer in a seedy bar to ... See full summary »

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Margi Clarke, Kenneth Colley
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A woman's terribly dull life is upended by a one-night stand pregnancy, causing her to seek retribution.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Kati Outinen, Elina Salo, Esko Nikkari
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Three struggling artists try to make passable livings in Paris despite knock backs and tragedies.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Matti Pellonpää, Evelyne Didi, André Wilms
Adventure | Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

The Cowboys are lured from Mexico to Coney Island by their former manager who disappeared at the end of Leningrad Cowboys Go America. He believes he is the reincarnation of Moses, sent to lead them back to the promised land - Siberia.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Twist-Twist Erkinharju, Ben Granfelt, Sakke Järvenpää
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In Helsinki, a lonely night watchman is caught up in a series of misadventures with a femme fatale and a crooked businessman.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Janne Hyytiäinen, Maria Järvenhelmi, Maria Heiskanen
Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Siberian rock band Leningrad Cowboys go to the USA in pursuit of fame.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Matti Pellonpää, Kari Väänänen, Sakke Järvenpää
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Pirkka-Pekka Petelius ... Hamlet
Esko Salminen 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 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
Edit

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:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Finland

Language:

Finnish

Release Date:

21 August 1987 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Hamlet Goes Business See more »

Filming Locations:

Helsinki, Finland

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film has all the essential moments of the play, To be, or not to be -monologue being a notable exception that it is not included. 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.
See more »

Connections

Version of Hamlet (1917) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 11 in G minor/Sinfonia nro 11 g-molli op. 103
Composed by Dmitri Shostakovich
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Shakespeare re-cast as a 50's B-picture; one of my favourite films
29 May 2008 | by Graham GreeneSee all my reviews

Hamlet Goes Business (1987) is a number of things. On the one hand, it's a piercing satire on industry and the corporate world of the 1980's dressed up as a spiralling melodrama; while on the other hand, it's an appropriation of the colourless, academic world of Shakespeare slapped around and recast as a lurid film-noir pastiche. For me, it's perhaps the first true masterpiece from Finish auteur Aki Kaurismäki; the one in which his typically unique style of deadpan humour, dry characterisations and idiosyncratic reference-points finally came together to create a unique and distinctive whole. Obviously, that isn't to say that his first three films, Crime and Punishment (1983), Calamari Union (1985) and Shadows in Paradise (1986) don't warrant serious critical attention, because they do; but rather, the subtle shades of character, drama, humour and self-reference that had been slowly developing over the course of those particular three films is finally refined and further developed with this delightful, absurdist joy.

The basic story of the film retains the set-up and characters familiar from Shakespeare's adaptation, though with a number of separate abstractions beyond those presented by the general updating of the characters and text. For example, rather than being the noble prince, Kaurismäki's Hamlet is a spoilt, oafish brat; more likely to be getting a hankering for a midnight feast and failing to score with his girlfriend Ofelia than prospering in the cut-throat world of business. In our introduction to the character, a nonplussed Hamlet literally stumbles across the body of his murdered father whilst precociously munching on a large slice of ham. Later in the film, as his step-father and mother conspire to take control of the business, a childlike Hamlet is placated in the boardroom by the addition of his own table with colouring books and felt-tip pens. As a work of satire, both on the idea of industry and on the nuts-and-bolts of Shakespeare's text, Kaurismäki is merciless. However, the film also impresses on a purely stylistic level; with the director adapting certain visual quirks and techniques familiar from post war B-cinema alongside his usual stylistic preoccupations to create one of the greatest pop-cinema pastiches since Godard's Pierrot le fou (1965).

As ever with the films of Kaurismäki, Hamlet works as a result of the perfect casting, with a fantastic performance from lead actor Pirkka-Pekka Petelius complimenting Kaurismäki's regular troop of supporting actors, here including Esko Salminen, Kati Outinen, Esko Nikkari, Turo Pajala and Matti Pellonpää. Petelius's Hamlet maintains that typically straight-faced approach shared by many of Kaurismäki's iconic characters, whilst also possessing something of a childlike innocence to set-up the mechanics for that blistering final act. I can certainly see why some viewers would find the more freely adapted elements of the film offensive on a historical level - with Hamlet here recast as a sulky teen bumbling into a conspiracy that he doesn't quite comprehend - but I think it's important to look beyond the presentation of the character found in the more recognisable elements of the Shakespearean piece to see the bold and imaginative use of satire and stark sense of humour that Kaurismäki brings to the project.

The final act of the film is incredibly funny and filled with imaginative and inventive elements that demonstrate what a fantastic and highly original filmmaker Kaurismäki is; with a film like Hamlet Goes Business, not to mention subsequent highlights like Ariel (1988), I Hired a Contract Killer (1991) and The Man Without a Past (2002) showing the range and talent of a sadly underrated artist very much the equal to the more widely acclaimed likes of Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Here, Kaurismäki's film takes the pop references and retrogressive elements of the former and mixes it with the intelligence and humour of the latter to produce an exceptional film that is unique to his particular style and approach. Although the humour might prove to be a little too dry, or the style too eccentric to appeal to those with a broader cinematic taste, Hamlet Goes Business is really an absolute joy that is worth experiencing. A bold, irreverent, imaginative and impeccably acted satire, with great black and white cinematography, a jarring style and a great central performance from Petelius.


14 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 8 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed