Hamlet (1996)


 hamlet“A little more than kin and less than kind.” – Hamlet

Number of Times Seen – 4 (Video in the 90’s and 17 Apr 2016)

Brief Synopsis – A Danish Prince suspects that his uncle has murdered his father the King and tries to find out while the winds of war begin to brew in the Capital.

My Take on it – As a kid, I HATED Shakespeare plays because I had so much trouble understanding the text, but once I started being able to see them visually on the screen, my attitude changed drastically.

In 1990, When I was in 10th grade, our English class had a field trip to see Mel Gibson’s version of Hamlet (1990) which was great to see on the big screen.

Six years later, Kenneth Branagh decided to adapt his vision of the play unabridged; making this film slightly over 4 hours long.

If IMDB is correct, this movie currently holds the record for the longest running time of of a theatrical release.

It may be long, but it is far from boring because there is so much going on the whole time.

The lavish costumes and production as a whole is done superbly because it does a great job transporting us back in time nearly a hundred years to the the turn of the 20th century in Denmark.

It also manages to give the story so much depth that it lacks on the stage.

The music by longtime Branagh collaborator Patrick Doyle is superb as usual and his haunting tones make this well known story even more beloved by a new generation.

The cast s a Director’s dream cast and Branagh was able to get 9 Oscar Winning actors in the cast (see trivia #2 below).  What’s even more astounding is the fact that he was able to get Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Jack Lemmon – who are all known for doing generally comedic roles – to play important characters here. (see trivia #1 below).

This, in my eyes is on the best Shakespeare adaptations (if not THE best) and is definitely Branagh’s masterpiece.  It really is unfortunate that he hasn’t made many more screen adaptations of The Bard’s work.

Early in his career, he was known as the new Lawrence Olivier and somewhere along the way over the past two decades, he has lost that title and I wish he gains it back as soon as possible because this is the kind of movie that needs to be made and using deft hands like him are what we need these days to make more Shakespearean adaptations.

Bottom Line – Probably the best Shakespeare adaptation put to screen. Branagh is a master at these kind of films and it’s unfortunate that he hasn’t made any in years. The visuals are stunning because it gives so much depth to the whole story.  Amazing cast that includes 9 Oscar winners which is a record this film holds.  Its length is astounding, yet not boring at all.  Music by Patrick Doyle is hauntingly used and adds so much to the production itself. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia #1 – Robin Williams and Billy Crystal were not allowed to be on the set at the same time during filming, for fear they would crack up the cast and crew, and cause major production delays. (From IMDB)

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia #2 – At nine, this films holds the record for the most Oscar winning actors in the cast: Jack Lemmon (Marcellus) won Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (1955) and Best Actor for Save the Tiger (1973), Charlton Heston (The Player King) won Best Actor for Ben-Hur (1959), Julie Christie (Gertrude) won Best Actress for Darling (1965), John Mills (Old Norway) won Best Supporting Actor for Ryan’s Daughter (1970), John Gielgud (Priam) won Best Supporting Actor for Arthur (1981), Richard Attenborough (The English Ambassador) won Best Director for Gandhi (1982), Robin Williams (Osric) won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting (1997), Judi Dench (Hecuba) won Best Supporting Actress for Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Kate Winslet (Ophelia) won Best Actress for The Reader (2008). (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy

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10 thoughts on “Hamlet (1996)

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