A Nice Find
Nichole R | United States | 09/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was searching for Hamlet movies online, and learned of a made for TV version from 2003 I'd never heard of. After some digging I found that it was one of three movies in this box set. Macbeth and King Lear were the accompanying films. Being a fan of all three plays I bought this on a whim, and was not disappointed.
The set contains Macbeth 1997 starring Jason Connery, King Lear 1999 - Brian Blessed, and Hamlet 2003 with William Houston. All three are low budget films from Cromwell Productions. Hamlet and King Lear were made for UK television. Macbeth was the only one to have a theatrical premiere.
Even though I bought the set for Hamlet; Macbeth became my favorite of the three. I liked that Macbeth was treated as the complex character he is. Too often he comes across as a brute from the beginning, and how is it a tragedy that way? Here we get to see him struggle with the decision to murder Duncan. He questions himself constantly. I also enjoyed this film's Lady Macbeth as well. She too could be sympathetic at times. It was nice to see the film authentically set in 11th century Scotland, too. A great atmosphere and lovely music help pull you into Macbeth's world. I didn't particularly care for the way they chose to end the film.It jus cuts off as Macbeth is being decapitated.
King Lear was probably my least favorite. I'm not really sure why. The acting, for the most part, was good. Sure the costumes look like they could have been rented from the fun shop, and the movie's three hours long. None of that bothered me though. There was just a lack of enthusiasm for it. Even so King Lear is still a fine film, particularly with Jason Riddington as Edmund. He brought that charisma, and snake-like charm to the character that some actors seem to lack.
Finally we come to Hamlet. I was actually surprised at how much dialogue made it into the film; considering it runs just under 2 hours. I was almost put off at first by the look of it. It reminded me of watching an amateur student production. Maybe it was the sound in the indoor scenes. Hamlet was filmed during a medieval reenactment, with the same kind of costumes as King Lear. I'm glad I continued to watch however. William Houston, an actor I had never heard of before, made an excellent Hamlet. I liked that his performance was very understated, rather than over the top as most actors tend to do. Gareth Thomas as Claudius and Jason Harris as Horatio gave strong performances as well. Some things I didn't like however, was how the actors would sometimes walk off during a conversation. You might get the first few lines, and then they change to the next scene. Also the ghost looked pretty lame, and there was no prelude to the mousetrap. It's almost like watching the best of Hamlet. Even so I still found the film enjoyable, and would definitely watch again.
While these films may not have the Hollywood glamour of other more well known Shakespeare adaptations; don't let that put you off. They're all worth seeing if you're a fan of the bard. I'm glad to have found these little gems.