The RSC puts a modern spin on Shakespeare's Hamlet in this filmed-for-television version of their stage production. The Prince of Denmark seeks vengeance after his father is murdered and his mother marries the murderer.
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
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 »
Elsinore in Denmark is a very flat, not at like the hilly landscape portrayed in the film. See more »
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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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 »
Hamlet (1990) stars Mel Gibson. The film was directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Mel Gibson ranks at the top of my list of unlikeable Hollywood stars. However, as as reviewer, I have to give him credit for doing a creditable job in the demanding role of Hamlet. Film Hamlets don't have to be skilled Shakespearean actors. The ability to murmur a soliloquy that can be heard in the back row of an auditorium isn't required in the movies. The director can order numerous takes until one turns out well. He can use close-ups--as Zeffirelli does--to make sure we understand the actor's emotions. I don't think Gibson would have managed the role onstage, but on the screen he carries it off.
Glenn Close, as Gertrude, is excellent. This is especially evident in the bedroom ("closet") scene. She really does portray Gertrude's mixture of fear and shame in a convincing manner.
However, in my opinion, acting honors go to Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia. Bonham Carter's Ophelia is shy and innocent. She is flattered and frightened by Hamlet's professions of love, and she is crushed by his violent rejection. Most impressive is her portrayal of the mad scenes. She acts these so well that you actually are convinced that you are watching a young woman who has had a descent into mental illness.
I've watched several Hamlets as part of a Shakespeare on film honors course. Each movie has it's strengths and weaknesses. This Hamlet deserves to be seen. Zeffirelli Is a brilliant director, Mel Gibson is a satisfactory Hamlet, and Helena Bonham Carter is the perfect Ophelia.
I watched this movie on DVD, but it would do better in a theater. It's worth watching it in whatever format is available.
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