Genre Grandeur – Hamlet (1996) – Encore Review – MovieRob

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Shakespeare on Film Movies, here’s a review of Hamlet (1996) by me.

Thanks again to James of Blogging By Cinema Light for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s genre has been chosen by Sally of 18 Cinema Lane and we will be reviewing our favorite Youth-Led Movies.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Jan by sending them to

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Sally!

Let’s see what I thought of this movie:


“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet

Number of Times Seen – 5 (Video in the 90’s, 17 Apr 2016 and 30 Dec 2019)

Link to original reviewHere

Brief Synopsis – The young Danish Prince Hamlet must deal with the fact that his uncle has murdered his father The King and married his mother while trying to figure out if all that has transpired in his life has caused him to go mad or not.

My Take on it – I have never really been the biggest fan of Shakespeare’s writing and as a kid (and adult) have tried as hard as possible to avoid reading his works because they never make much sense to me.

The movies on the other hand are a bit different since watching the actions of the characters has always added to the understanding of what is being said and is going on.

In high school, we were required to read Hamlet and fortunately the Mel Gibson film adaptation came out in the theaters that year and our Literature class went on a field trip to watch it.

Once I had seen it on the screen, I started getting a much better and clearer understanding of what is going on in this story.

Just six years later, the quintessential modern Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh gave us his view of the story in a four hour epic that I fell in love with the first time I saw it and in the 23 years since, it still remains my favorite Shakespearean adaptation to the screen.

Kenneth Branagh truly knows how to present Shakespearean films on film and this is his finest example.

Despite the fact that this film uses the full text of hamlet and runs slightly over 4 hours, it is entirely engrossing and engaging from start to finish.

The set pieces are chosen so perfectly and they help add to the ambiance and grandeur of this story which in turn makes this story and its characters come to life before our eyes in ways that we could never imagine.

The choice to set this story in the late 19th Century works really well and helps establish the timelessness of this story and proves Shakespeare’s genius in creating stories that can be relevant and understood in any place or time.

This film’s cast is superb and it always amazes me how many famous actors Branagh was able to convince to take part ion this film.

We even get comedians Billy Crystal and Robin Williams in small yet significant dramatic roles.

Overall, this film still holds the record of featuring the most Oscar winners in a cast with 9 of the cast members having achieved that honor.

If we were to include Oscar nominees, that list would more than double.

The story is paced really well and despite the story’s length (making it one of the longest theatrical releases in history), it doesn’t get boring or feel as if it is padding the screen time at any point.

Branagh is quite adept at using his sets for effect and this film is no exception since he stages numerous soliloquies in strange yet effective ways.

Hamlet’s most famous speech is done in a hall of mirrors which helps enhance the To Be or Not to be soliloquy.

Patrick Doyle, who is known to score almost all of Branagh’s work gives us a haunting score that adds so much to this story and makes things feel even more poignant as things move along.

This, in turns helps make this film’s plot even more realistic and enjoyable to watch as it creeps towards its very tragic end.

Bottom Line – Amazing film adaptation of the Bard’s work that is so engrossing and engaging throughout. Branagh knows how to build great set pieces that help make this story come to life in ways that most people wouldn’t imagine. The way that this story is set during the late 19th century shows how timeless much of the themes and ideas are and that helps prove Shakespeare’s genius. The cast is exquisite and this film still holds the record of having the most Oscar winners in its cast (at 9).  The story is set at a great pace and even though this film clocks in as one of the longest films in history at 4 hours and 2 minutes, it moves along without feeling boring or extraneous at any point.  Branagh is quite adept at utilizing his sets for some of the great soliloquies of this story and the choice to have Hamlet’s most iconic To Be Or Not To Be scene take place in a hall of mirrors is a superb choice because it adds even more to the effect of that part of the film.  Branagh’s usual composer Patrick Doyle helps create a haunting and poignant score that allows for the story to feel even more realistic in the way that things play out.  Highly Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – At four hours and two minutes, this is one of the longest Hollywood movies of all time. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (10/10) (no change from original review)


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3 thoughts on “Genre Grandeur – Hamlet (1996) – Encore Review – MovieRob

  1. Pingback: Genre Grandeur December Finale – Julius Caesar (1953) – Blogging By Cinema Light | MovieRob

  2. Pingback: MovieRob Monthly Roundup – December 2019 | MovieRob

  3. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1996 | MovieRob

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