Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shakespeare Series: Hamlet - 1996

Staring: Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Kate Winslet, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Charlton Heston, Jack Lemmon, Rufus Sewell, Brian Blessed, Richard Attenborough, Judi Dench

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writers: William Shakespeare, Kenneth Branagh

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Again, I don’t think I need to spend time with a plot summary for this or any other Shakespeare film, so long as it covers the story almost to a T.

This film of epic length is certainly not a film to miss, that is, if you can stomach the 242 minute running time. That’s right the film is over four hours long. Completely unabridged – it apparently (according to Wikipedia) only adds a single word: 'Attack!'. This is truly an almost completely faithful adaptation of the play, no joke.

The striking thing about this film is the design and feel of both the sets and the dress. Very Edwardian. Oh, so you don’t know what I mean by that, hum? For the illiterate or uninformed, the Edwardian period covered the reign of English King Edward VII (which is funny because he was pretty much a German) between 1901 and 1910. So anyway, before I lose both you and myself in this, the architecture is very Art Nouveau (Which is my second favorite design type behind Art Deco), and surprisingly it is not distracting!

The almost all-star cast (Williams excluded of course, I kid… I kid) is definitely not wasted, and is only a slight distraction when watching. Shouts of “I can’t believe it’s HIM!” could come out of your mouth when a character is introduced.

Shockingly this film has yet to be released on DVD – so no luck people, you’ll have to catch it on VHS like all the old fashioned people (a real film buff should have one because there are still many gems that haven’t been released).

Verdict: **** ½ /*****

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