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A Midwinter's Tale (1995)

In the Bleak Midwinter (original title)
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Out of work actor Joe volunteers to help try and save his sister's local church for the community by putting on a Christmas production of Hamlet, somewhat against the advice of his agent ... See full summary »

Director:

Kenneth Branagh

Writer:

Kenneth Branagh
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Briers ... Henry Wakefield (Claudius, the Ghost, and the Player King)
Hetta Charnley Hetta Charnley ... Molly
Joan Collins ... Margaretta D'Arcy
Nicholas Farrell ... Tom Newman (Laertes, Fortinbras, and messengers)
Mark Hadfield ... Vernon Spatch (Polonius, Marcellus, and First Gravedigger)
Gerard Horan Gerard Horan ... Carnforth Greville (Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Horatio, and Barnardo)
Celia Imrie ... Fadge
Michael Maloney ... Joe Harper (Hamlet)
Jennifer Saunders ... Nancy Crawford
Julia Sawalha ... Nina Raymond (Ophelia)
John Sessions ... Terry Du Bois (Queen Gertrude)
Ann Davies Ann Davies ... Mrs. Branch
James D. White James D. White ... Tim
Robert Hines Robert Hines ... Mortimer
Allie Byrne Allie Byrne ... Tap Dancer
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Storyline

Out of work actor Joe volunteers to help try and save his sister's local church for the community by putting on a Christmas production of Hamlet, somewhat against the advice of his agent Margaretta. As the cast he assembles are still available even at Christmas and are prepared to do it on a 'profit sharing' basis (that is, they may not get paid anything) he cannot expect - and does not get - the cream of the cream. But although they all bring their own problems and foibles along, something bigger starts to emerge in the perhaps aptly named village of Hope. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The drama. The passion. The intrigue... And the rehearsals haven't even started.

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 February 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Midwinter's Tale See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$346,839
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Maloney (Joe Harper), Richard Briers (Henry Wakefield) and Nicholas Farrell (Tom Newman) all later appeared in Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet (1996). They played Laertes, Polonius and Horatio respectively. Furthermore, Maloney had previously played Rosencrantz in Franco Zeffirelli's version of Hamlet (1990) while Farrell provided the voice of Hamlet in Shakespeare: The Animated Tales: Hamlet (1992). See more »

Quotes

Nina Raymond: You've turned into an old sweetie, haven't you?
Henry Wakefield: No, I'm still a miserable git, and this is all a front to stop you from messing up my performance.
See more »

Connections

Featured in To Be on Camera: A History with Hamlet (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Heart of Glass
Written by Debbie Harry & Chris Stein
Published by Chrysalis Music Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hamlet as a comedy, what could be better?
22 May 2002 | by giandujaSee all my reviews

I love this film. It is small, and quiet, and it is rather unexpectedly in black and white. It opens like a documentary, and then slips you right into the role of fly on the wall for the rest of the film.

The ensemble is terrific and keep an eye on the facial expressions of the actors who are not actually speaking. A lot of Branagh regulars make welcome appearances. The "look" is wonderfully textured and layered, taking advantage of b/w. Ironically, I prefer many of "Joe's" interpretations of Hamlet to the same scenes in the various film versions I've seen, including Branagh's epic version. Of course, the version they perform is designed for the stage, with a mostly live audience....

My favorite aspect of this film is that it turns a production of Hamlet into a "neo-pseudo-Shakespearean comedy." The parallels between the characters in Hamlet still exist in the players in A Midwinter's Tale. They've been updated and personalized so that Joe's comment that "the play is about loss" works equally well for the film. But, just as almost everyone is dead at the end of a Shakespearean tragedy, everyone is paired up at the end of MT. Of course, as a modern work it can't just end in weddings, but happy endings abound for everyone.

The cleverness of this all is that there is naughty, campy, frivolous humour which hides deep emotional pain, uncertainty, and even tragedy. Anyone who is familiar with Shakespeare's comedies will be familiar with that dark edge which contrasts the joyous romping. Then there are the requisite farcical elements to make the parallel complete.

The only unresolved issues I had at the end of the film/play were "how will Molly handle the fencing scene?" and "how is it possible for Henry to be both Claudius and the Player King?" But I'm not about to gripe about these little points when everything else is tied up so neatly and well.


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