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Hamlet (1996)

PG-13 | | Drama | 25 December 1996 (USA)
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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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4,928 ( 530)
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
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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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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the production went to great lengths to make the exterior of Blenheim Palace look wintry, they were blessed on one day with an actual blizzard. Writer and director Sir Kenneth Branagh scrambled to think of an exterior scene that could be shot quickly to take advantage of the real snow. He selected the scene where the sailors deliver Hamlet's letter to Horatio, since Nicholas Farrell could read his lines off the letter. Branagh pulled Farrell away from his lunch break, and they quickly shot the scene. See more »

Goofs

There is an electric cord visible coming out the back of a lamp on a table near the window during Hamlet's long soliloquy in his chamber. See more »

Quotes

Hamlet: But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The DVD & Blu-ray versions (released by Warner Bros.) do not have the Columbia torch lady logo featured at the beginning on the theatrical release and the version shown on cable TV as well as the ones released on VHS and LaserDisc. The film simply begins with the lighthouse Castle Rock logo. See more »

Connections

Version of El mundo del espectáculo: Hamlet (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Indulgent
2 July 2003 | by seurattoddSee all my reviews

Branagh claims to present the only complete, uncut movie version of Hamlet, and his version is indeed much longer than anyone else's. However, it is not, as Branagh would have us believe, Hamlet as Shakespeare intended it to be. The "complete text" of Hamlet is really an amalgamation of three extant texts, and there is no evidence to suggest that these texts were ever performed together in their entirety in Shakespeare's day. While we don't know how long these plays were when originally performed--though the prologue of Romeo and Juliet mentions "the two hour's traffic of our stage"--we can be fairly certain that Shakespeare's company never indulged themselves as

Indulgence is the name of the game in Branagh's Hamlet. What else could explain the movie's excessive length, its lavish opulence, and its absurd number of torso shots? Why else would Branagh ask Gerard Depardieu, one of the greatest living French actors, to speak only five lines of text (none of them memorable)? Why else would he get Judi Dench to play a role that doesn't even appear in Shakespeare's text? Why (mis-)cast Jack Lemmon in a role that would have been played more effectively by a much younger actor? Though certainly a great actor and a fine director, Branagh's self-indulgence threatens to overwhelm this movie at every turn. Perhaps the problem stems from his desire to make the definitive version of a text so endlessly resonant that it resists any definitive version.

That said, there is much to praise in this movie. Branagh's Hamlet is aggressive, moody, brilliant, robust--more appealing than Olivier's brooding dreamer. The larger roles are all played admirably, particularly Jacobi's charismatic Claudius. Finally, there are some scenes in the film that are as great as anything Branagh has ever done. The "To be or not to be" soliloquy, set in a hall of two-way mirrors with Claudius and Polonius lying in wait behind one, approaches cinematic genius.

--Ben


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