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Hamlet (1996)

PG-13 | | Drama | 25 December 1996 (USA)
Trailer
1:44 | Trailer
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

Director:

Kenneth Branagh

Writers:

William Shakespeare (play), Kenneth Branagh (screenplay)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Riz Abbasi Riz Abbasi ... Attendant to Claudius
Richard Attenborough ... English Ambassador
David Blair David Blair ... Attendant to Claudius
Brian Blessed ... Ghost of Hamlet's Father
Kenneth Branagh ... Hamlet
Richard Briers ... Polonius
Michael Bryant ... Priest
Peter Bygott Peter Bygott ... Attendant to Claudius
Julie Christie ... Gertrude
Billy Crystal ... First Gravedigger
Charles Daish Charles Daish ... Stage Manager
Judi Dench ... Hecuba
Gérard Depardieu ... Reynaldo
Reece Dinsdale ... Guildenstern
Ken Dodd ... Yorick
Learn more

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Storyline

Hamlet (Sir Kenneth Branagh), son of the King of Denmark (Brian Blessed), is summoned home for his father's funeral and his mother Gertrude's (Julie Christie's) wedding to his uncle Claudius (Sir Derek Jacobi). In a supernatural episode, he discovers that his uncle, who he hates anyway, murdered his father. In an incredibly convoluted plot, the most complicated and most interesting in all literature, he manages to (impossible to put this in exact order) feign (or perhaps not to feign) madness, murder the "Prime Minister", love and then unlove an innocent who he drives to madness, plot and then unplot against the uncle, direct a play within a play, successfully conspire against the lives of two well-meaning friends, and finally take his revenge on the uncle, but only at the cost of almost every life on-stage, including his own and his mother's. Written by John Brosseau <brossj5683@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violent images and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Choreographing the numerous intricate dolly shots in this movie required a high degree of coordination between the actors, actresses, and the crew. They sometimes rehearsed as much as three hours for a single set up. Adding to the difficulty were the numerous mirrors lining the set of the great hall. Each shot was carefully scrutinized in playback to make sure that no crew or equipment were reflected in the mirrors. At one point during rehearsals for the "To be or not to be" monologue, one of the dolly grips gave Kenneth Branagh a note about his pacing, to insure he completed his line before the dolly became visible. See more »

Goofs

As Claudius and Gertrude welcome Hamlet back to Denmark in the throne room, the ladies to the side change places. See more »

Quotes

Hamlet: Wither with thou lead me? Speak. I'll go no further.
Ghost: Mark me.
Hamlet: I will.
Ghost: My hour is almost come when I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames must render up myself.
Hamlet: Alas, poor ghost.
Ghost: Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing to what I shall unfold.
Hamlet: Speak. I am bound to hear.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Two versions should have been theatrically released at the same time: a complete 242-minutes director's cut shown only in selected venues (large key cities) and a shorter, wide-release version that ran about two-and-a-half hours. After some critical backlash, Castle Rock decided to release the complete 4 hours everywhere in the US and use the shorter version for some overseas territories. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hamlet (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

In Youth When I Did Love
(uncredited)
Written by William Shakespeare
Performed by Billy Crystal
See more »

User Reviews

 
Its virtues outweigh its defects
12 September 2005 | by shrikeangelSee all my reviews

First, what I didn't like. The acting was not really up to the Hamlet standard. Branagh was really over-the-top, doing a lot of yelling mostly. In my opinion, those actors who were not big-name celebrities generally did a better job; though I would except Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. (And Charlton Heston, too, but I wasn't sure if he was playing at being a hack.) A lot of the ambiguities in the play were clearly resolved one way in the flashbacks.

What I think speaks very much in this play's favor is that it is accessible. Shakespeare is hard to understand for the vast majority of people nowadays; many people are not even inclined to try, because of its reputation as Serious Literature and its archaic English. If they see this film they will understand clearly at least one man's interpretation of the play. They will be seeing it more as Shakespeare's audiences saw it: a play with sword fights and battles, and mighty kings and nobles, murder and incest and evil schemes and ghosts--and great art, if one cares to look for it, but in Shakespeare's day most didn't, any more than most people do now. Branagh's overacting, and his forcing of his interpretation of the story on the viewer, may detract from Shakespeare's art somewhat, but it is better that modern audiences get a piece of it, rather than nothing.

I've got to say one more thing though. Some people are complaining that "it's set in the 19th century and that wasn't Shakespeare's time". Well, in Shakespeare's time their costume and scenery was that of their own day for all of their plays. Shakespeare may have SAID it's in the days of ancient Rome or medieval Denmark or whatever, but he didn't dress his characters up like they were, he used the costumes of his own time. For the same reason his plays are full of anachronisms. For example, in King John the English and French have cannons--in Robin Hood's day. In Julius Caesar they talk of chimneys, which wouldn't be invented for another thousand years, and in Henry IV they talk about Machiavelli, who wasn't even born yet then. So I think this objection is silly--you might as well complain that the play isn't in Danish (after all they live in Denmark don't they?).


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William Shakespeare's Hamlet See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$90,684, 29 December 1996

Gross USA:

$4,708,156

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,770,222
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Digital (35 mm prints)| SDDS (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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