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Richard Burton's Hamlet
Richard Burton's Hamlet
Actors: Richard Burton, Hume Cronyn, Alfred Drake, Eileen Herlie, William Redfield
Directors: Bill Colleran, John Gielgud
Genres: Drama
NR     1999     3hr 11min

Richard Burton stars and Sir John Gielgud directs William Shakespeare's play of the Danish Prince. This is a "Hamlet" acted in rehearsal clothes, stripped of all extraneous trappings, so the beauty of the language and imag...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Richard Burton, Hume Cronyn, Alfred Drake, Eileen Herlie, William Redfield
Directors: Bill Colleran, John Gielgud
Creators: Bill Colleran, Alexander H. Cohen, Alfred W. Crown, John Heyman, William Sargent Jr., William Shakespeare
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Classics, Family Life
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 08/17/1999
Original Release Date: 01/01/1964
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1964
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 3hr 11min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The Music of the Language
Timothy Haugh | New York, NY United States | 08/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Who could resist listening to Richard Burton perform Hamlet? Shakespeare is about the poetry and the heart of poetry is the voice in which it is spoken. Burton's voice gives a life and passion to the role which is wonderful. Add to his the voices of John Gielgud as the ghost and Hume Cronyn as Polonius and what more could a person want?How about seeing it? Granted, the film quality here is not up to the standards of a modern audience. First of all, this is a recording of an actual Broadway performance and not a true film so the lighting is bad and there aren't as many close-ups as one would expect in a movie. But the darkness and black and white filming actually give the show a moodiness appropriate to the story of Hamlet. Still, there are moments where facial expressions are difficult to make out because of distance and lighting; however, there are also moments of extreme beauty.On the whole, whatever one might think of the filming, there are a number of good performances here. Burton is, of course, wonderful despite the fact that he leans a little more towards madness than I read into the character. Cronyn plays Polonius with an intelligence often missing in actors who see this character as an old fool. Linda Marsh makes a good attempt at Ophelia which may be the most difficult female character in the Shakespearean canon but it is not definitive. None of the characters was weak so the overall effect is wonderful.The staging of this version is also worthy of noting. It is done on an almost bare stage with the actors in modern "street clothes." Many people dislike this kind of minimalist theatre but I enjoy it. It takes the focus away from the set and puts it on the actors, where it belongs. All too often in modern theatre (and film) the set overshadows the acting when it should just be there as a support.Ultimately, people expecting a movie on the order of recent films by the likes of Mel Gibson and Kenneth Brannagh will be disappointed. People who enjoy going to live theatre, however, and who love to hear the beauty of Shakespeare's words will find this film a worthy addition to their collections."
Brilliant performace preserved, limited presentation
Joe NY | 08/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"4 stars for presentation, 5 stars for performance. I can remember listening to Richard Burton's great HAMLET performance on the Columbia Records Broadway cast album (unfortunatly unavailable on CD).Now I can see him perform in this record of one of the Broadway perfomances. It was worth the long wait. Having been informed that this film was destroyed only to have resurface on this DVD is great news. Unfortunatly the technical aspects of the film are wanting, oftened resembling an old TV Kinoscope. The DVD format does not improve the picture or sound much. Still it is watchable and Burton's great performance (along with the rest of the cast)make it extremely worth while. Maybe now Columbia (or Sony)will reissue the stereo cast album so that the two will complement each other."
Simply a Classic Despite Poor Video Quality
Thomas Camp | Houston, Texas | 05/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is simply one of the greatest performances of Hamlet ever presented on the Broadway stage, or any stage for that matter. Richard Burton is phenomenal with kudos to Hume Cronyn for his Polonius. Because of the brilliance of the performance and the historical importance of this recording, the poor video quality is forgivable. This film was beleived lost for many years, and it is a joy to see its re-release on DVD."
This `Hamlet' IS Hamlet
Pryst | Staatsburg, New York United States | 03/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have seen every filmed version of `Hamlet' there is and untold stage perfomances and never - never - have I been so thoroughly convinced of the reality of the drama as I am with this version. Taped during a live stage performance in `64, directed by Gielgud (who first interpreted the role realistically), this film offers brilliant work by Hume Cronyn, Alfred Drake and Linda Marsh - but most of all by Richard Burton who delivers the lines as though they are being spoken for the first time. The entire production has that same quality though - it's the first `Hamlet' I've ever seen where I genuinely felt sorry when Polonius is killed and where I've laughed at the `fishmonger' scene. In black & white, it is certainly not as `showy' as some other filmed versions - but I don't believe there is one better."