Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|William Shakespeare's Hamlet |
Two-Disc Special Edition
Actors: Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie, Billy Crystal, Gérard Depardieu, Kate Winslet
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
No Description Available. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: UN Release Date: 14-AUG-2007 Media Type: DVD
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Member Movie Reviews
Sharron A. (SharronA) from ASHEVILLE, NC
Reviewed on 6/13/2010...
Acting, casting, directing, set design, costumes, music... everything about this film is superb!
Not to be missed
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 02/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Part of the genius of Branagh's interpretation of Hamlet is in the use of the techniques of the cinema to enhance the production. Branagh has not condensed the acts like some mass market soup, as was done in Olivier's 1948 Oscar-winning production, or in, say, Zeffirelli's 1989 Hamlet lite starring Mel Gibson (both excellent, though, within their scope), but has kept every word while directing our understanding so that even those only casually familiar with the play might follow the intent and purpose with discernment. Recall that for Shakespeare--the ultimate actor's playwright who wrote with precious few stage directions--interpretation was left to the direction and the actors, an open invitation that Branagh rightly accepts.
The use of flashback scenes of things implied, such as the amorous union of Ophelia and her Lord Hamlet abed, or of a vast expanse of snow darkened with distant soldiers to represent the threat of Fortinbras' army from without, and especially the vivid remembrance in the mind's eye of the new king's dastardly deed of murder most foul, helps us all to more keenly appreciate just what it is that torments Hamlet's soul. I also liked the intense closeups. How they would have bemused and delighted an Elizabethan audience.
Branagh's ambitious Hamlet is also one of the most accessible and entertaining, yet without the faintest hint of any dumbing down or abbreviation. A play is to divert, to entertain, to allow us to identify with others whose trials and tribulations are so like our own. And so first the playwright seeks to engage his audience, and only then, by happenstance and indirection, to inspire and to inform. Shakespeare did this unconsciously, we might say. He wrote for the popular audience of his time, a broad audience, it should be noted, that included kings and queens as well as knaves and beggars, and he reached them, one and all. We are much removed from those times, and yet, this play, this singular achievement in theatre, still has the power to transcend mere entertainment, to fuse poetry and story, as well as the high and the low, and speak once again to a new audience twenty generations removed.
Branagh himself is a wonderful Hamlet, perhaps a bit of a ham at times (as I think was Shakespeare's intent), a prince who is the friend of itinerant players. He also lacks somewhat in stature (as we conceive our great heroes); nonetheless his interpretation of the great prince's torment and his singular obsession to avenge his father's murder speaks strongly to us all. Branagh, more than any other Hamlet, makes us understand the distracted, anguished and tortured prince, and guides us to not only an appreciation of his actions, wild and crazy as they sometimes are, but to an identification and an understanding of why (the eternal query) Hamlet is so long in assuming the name of action. In Branagh's production, this old quibble with Hamlet's character dissolves itself into a dew, and we realize that he was acting strongly, purposely all the while. He had to know the truth without doubt so that he might act in concert with it.
I was also very much impressed with Derek Jacobi's Claudius. One recalls that Jacobi played Hamlet in the only other full cinematic production of the play that I know of, produced in 1980 by the BBC with Claire Bloom as Gertrude; and he was an excellent Hamlet, although perhaps like Branagh something less than a massive presence. His Claudius combines second son ambition with a Machiavellian heart, whose words go up but whose thoughts remind below, as is the way of villains everywhere.
Kate Winslet is a remarkable Ophelia, lending an unusual strength to the role (strength of character is part of what Kate Winslet brings to any role), but with the poor, sweet girl's vulnerability intact. She does the mad scene with Claudius as well as I have seen it done, and of course her personal charisma and beauty embellishes the production.
Richard Briers as Polonius, proves that that officious fool is indeed that, and yet something more so that we can see why he was a counselor to the king. The famous speech he gives to Laertes as his son departs for France, is really ancient wisdom even though it comes from a fool.
Julie Christie was a delight as the besmirched and wretched queen. In the bedroom scene with Hamlet she becomes transparent to not only her son, but to us all, and we feel that the camera is reaching into her soul. She is outstanding.
The bit players had their time upon the stage and did middling well to very good. I liked Charlton Heston's player king (although I think he and John Gielgud might have switched roles to good effect) and Billy Crystal's gravedigger was finely etched. Only Jack Lemon's Marcellus really disappointed, but I think that was mainly because he was so poorly cast in such a role. Not once was he able to flash the Jack Lemon grin that we have come to know so well.
The idea of doing a Shakespearean play with nineteenth century dress in the late twentieth century worked wonderfully well, but I know not why. Perhaps the place and dress are just enough removed from our lives that they are somewhat strange but recognizable in a pleasing way. And perhaps it is just another tribute to the timeless nature of Shakespeare's play. The mirrors in the great hall added to the effect of a vast and indifferent castle environment, and in the scene with Ophelia and Laertes returned tended to magnify the focus.
There is so much more to say about this wonderful cinematic production. It is, all things considered, one of the best Hamlets ever done. Perhaps it is the best. See it, by all means, see it for yourself."
Baring Hamlet's Soul
Barry C. Chow | Calgary, Alberta Canada | 10/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a moment at the start of this film when Hamlet, until then holding himself rigidly erect through sheer force of will, seizes a moment of privacy and literally deflates with exhaustion and despair. In itself, this perfect gesture would mark Branagh's portrayal a masterful work. But what follows raises his performance to the sublime: He embarks on the "O that this too too sullied flesh would melt, /Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew..." soliloquy not with Burton's anger, Olivier's melancholy or Gibson's bitterness, but with an exhalation that embodies the emotion most genuine given the circumstances: overwhelming grief. This is a perfect note, and what follows shows an understanding of the play's mental and emotional landscape that puts other portrayals to shame.
I have seen many performances of Hamlet, but I have never seen one as perfectly pitched as this. Branagh's Hamlet is strong, resourceful, thoughtful and restrained. Branagh purposely rejects the psychological poses that other actors find so hard to resist. After all, Hamlet and Richard III are the two Shakespearean plays that afford actors the most range. It's hard playing the Dane on a leash when one can go wild with existential abandon and not only dodge the charge of overacting, but actually attribute such excess to the character. There are few meatier roles in the repertoire that simultaneously offer the actor such depth on the one hand and such leeway on the other.
For me, such moderation exemplifies Branagh's devotion to Shakespeare. It must have been tempting for a man of his talents to show off. But to forego such gestures, to offer in its stead restraint, is to put service before self.
For, of course, Hamlet is restrained. His very life depends on it. His whole course of action is based on it. His safety revolves around it. Hold off the will to strike, restrain the impulse for vengeance, apportion each action in only the most miserly measure. The walls have ears, conspiracies abound and death lurks around every corner. In such an environment, is it plausible that a man of Hamlet's intelligence would show his hand by indulging in excess? A restrained performance feels right because a restrained course of action is the only course possible for our hero.
This does not stop Hamlet from making bold gestures. But such gestures must always be made under cover, and here again, Branagh shows his creative mettle. The Player King scene provides a counterpoint. Branagh lets go here and shows his excitement when the occasion demands it. Likewise, his graveyard response to Ophelia's death: the cover of madness conflates with reality because Hamlet's act cannot be sustained forever. Branagh knows exactly when to allow the cracks to show.
Those used to earlier works may find Branagh's version overly long and laboured. Many directors have cut out scenes and soliloquies in a misguided attempt to "tighten up" the production. Branagh makes what I believe is the right decision: to leave them all in because every scene, every soliloquy adds texture and is indispensable to the whole.
The best Hamlet I have seen."
The Absolute Best Version of Shakespeare ever Recorded
Bruce Kendall | Southern Pines, NC | 06/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one monumental piece of filmmaking. To the dectractors, for whom it was probably too long for their MTV attention spans, I can only say, go back to Britney Spears and save your comments for something you know something about. I'm sorry, but these responses really get me ticked in this instance. This is the "full" text, as written. Every word is a gem. Every scene is necessary for a full apprecition and understanding of Shakespeare's scope and genius. I didn't detect a dull moment or a lapse in directorial love and care for the duration of the film. Even Robin Williams, who I find annoying of late, was perfectly cast. The cameos, supporting roles, and stars all shone equally. This film is a triumph on Branagh's part, even better than his masterful Henry V. He's followed in Olivier's footsteps and even superseded him in many respects. I didn't for a moment doubt any of his choices, either as actor or director. For me, this is the definitive Shakespeare recording of the modern era. Enough said."