Hamlet, given in full, plays for nearly four hours and most productions of the play utilise judicious cuts. However, this filmed version plays for less than two hours and the cuts are such that they distort and diminish the play. Unlike the Olivier film version, which did away with certain minor characters of the play in order to concentrate on its essence, this version tries to cram most of them in and achieves its brevity, as another reviewer has commented, by severely truncating many of the speeches and also by encouraging the actors to deliver their lines at too rapid a pace. Thus, the garrulous Polonius seems almost taciturn here, Ophelia's mad scene passes almost without notice, while Gertrude's beautiful recounting of her death (There is a willow grows aslant a brook) is given as though she were reading a report of the incident in the local newspaper. The scene where Hamlet speaks with his father's ghost is cut to the minimum necessary to further the plot which results in it having all the impact of a pop-up spectre in a fairground ghost train ride. While watching this production it was difficult for me not to think of the amusing scene in "The Court Jester" where the solemn ceremony of knighthood is speeded up fourfold in order to get Danny Kaye through the process as soon as possible!
There are some good things about this production; the famous soliloquy is given with Hamlet staring down a precipitous drop in one of several of the film's often rather beautiful outside location shots; the settings of the indoor location shots, however, often look cheap and far from palatial. Will Houston gives us a Hamlet who is an "Angry young man" and he is often very effective. Given a better production all-round his might have been an interpretation to reckon with.
The rather minimalistic music score adds little to this production, in fact there are places where it actually detracts from it as it occasionally obscures the dialogue by being too loud.