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.
The Moorish General Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his Lieutenant Michael Cassio, when in reality, it is all part of the scheme of a bitter Ensign named Iago.
New York, 2000. A specter in the guise of the newly-dead CEO of Denmark Corporation appears to Hamlet, tells of murder most foul, demands revenge, and identifies the killer as Claudius, the new head of Denmark, Hamlet's uncle and now step-father. Hamlet must determine if the ghost is truly his father, and if Claudius did the deed. To buy time, Hamlet feigns madness; to catch his uncle's conscience, he invites him to watch a film he's made that shows a tale of murder. Finally convinced of Claudius's guilt, Hamlet must avenge his father. Claudius now knows Hamlet is a threat and even uses Ophelia, Hamlet's love, in his own plots against the young man. Murder will out?Written by
When Hamlet stops the limo after deciding not to kill his uncle, Claudius, he exits at a theater billing the Best Musical of 1998 - the live-action stage version of "The Lion King". "The Lion King" is reportedly inspired by "Hamlet". See more »
In the scene when Polonius gives parting advice to Laertes, the reflection of the microphone boom can be seen in the chromium décor of the room. See more »
The play's the thing, with which I'll catch the conscience of the king.
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I only liked two things about this film: 1) The performance by Kyle McLachlan as Claudius and 2) The play within the play.
But first, let me say from the outset that on the whole, this version of Hamlet was flat and uninspired. Ethan Hawke practically croaked his lines all the way through which rendered much of the poetic dialogue in the play as dull and meaningless. Secondly, the director tried so hard to be creative with the modern surroundings, and yet it did not gel in this movie. WHY in God's name would Hamlet and Laeters duel in a swordfight in a modern day setting? WHY would a country such as England execute two innocent citizens due to a message in a laptop? And why is it that in practically EVERY Hamlet movie I've seen, including this one, does Horatio just stand off to the side with a disinterested look on his face and not show shock and emotion when Hamlet is dying? Everyone just seems to stand around staring at the dying character.
Reciting "To be or not to be" in a blockbuster video shop completely misses the point. Sure, in this movie it was Hamlet's world of movies and violence, but it failed to really show what was going on in his mind. We rarely get to see his anger or his confusion or his sharp intellect which was the essence of Hamlet, instead we get this grunge brooding portrait ala Reality Bites type character.
Kudos should go to Kyle McLachlan for not falling into the trap of delivering his lines without meaning - he delivered every line flawlessly and made it sound so convincing in a modern setting. His version of Claudius as the charming yet smarmy businessman with devilish like intentions was probably the best version of Claudius I have seen for a long while.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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