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As Macbeth rides home from battle, three witches stop him. They tell him that he will soon rise in power, first becoming Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland. King Duncan has just ... See full summary »
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.
A woman who has lost her memory is taken in by a Los Angeles orphanage, and a private eye is enlisted to track down her identity, but he soon finds that he might have a past life connection to her that endangers their lives.
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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