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
In 1979, Franco Zeffereli announced that he would be staging "Hamlet" in Los Angeles, with Richard Gere in the title role, and Jean Simmons as Gertrude, E.G. Marshall as Polonius, and Amy Irving as Ophelia, but it was cancelled. See more »
During Ophelia's lament, she reaches out with one arm to anyone who will help. In the next shot, the opposite arm is outstretched. 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 »
I have to admit I really like this film. Zefferelli is an unappreciated master: he knows how to stage a crowd (essential to his Romeo and Juliet), and move people; how to frame and light a sequence so it flows. He has a fine sense of color and its movement. Moreover, this Hamlet has the very best set, and also to my mind the best Gertrude.
What he has done is focus on the story. He's chopped and dropped and rearranged to create a story that makes sense. It moves and moves well from beginning to end. But.
But the problem is that Shakespeare's play is not at all about the story. That's just the skeleton on which some life altering metaphoric structure is built. Now all gone. You'll need Branagh for that, but his story doesn't flow effortlessly as this does.
Result: If you want Hamlet, seek him elsewhere. If you want a similar, masterful piece of filmwork, look here. The language is fittingly conversational not stentorian, so that the players can manage it. Just as well.
Ophelia is very pretty, and in her greatly reduced role does well. Her start-double take-astonishment-puzzlement after the play within the play is a moment which will last in your mind. This is an actress to watch.
Trivia: The incidental Osric here is the wonderful Mercutio in Zefferelli's much earlier Romeo and Juliet around whom the whole play revolves. The First Player (incidental in this version) is the excellent Friar in the other (macho thug MTV) Romeo + Juliet around whom that whole version revolves. Curious.
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