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Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996]


Price: £5.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh
  • Format: PAL, Dolby, Digital Sound, Widescreen, Colour
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Castilian, German, Greek
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Sept. 2007
  • Run Time: 242 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000WF0BXE
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,248 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Director and star Kenneth Branagh brings another Shakespearean adaptation to the screen. Hamlet (Branagh), Prince of Denmark, vows revenge when informed by the ghost of his murdered father (Brian Blessed) that the present king Claudius (Derek Jacobi) was responsible. Spurning the romantic advances of his sweetheart Ophelia (Kate Winslet), Hamlet attempts to open the eyes of his mother Gertrude (Julie Christie), whom Claudius has now wed. However, Hamlet's procrastination when it comes to killing Claudius costs more lives.

From Amazon.co.uk

It's the greatest work of literature, but nobody had ever filmed Hamlet uncut--until Kenneth Branagh went about the task for his lavish 1996 production. The result is a sumptuous, star-studded version that scores a palpable hit on its avowed goal: to make the text as clear and urgent as possible. Branagh himself plays the melancholy son of the Danish court, caught in a famous muddle about whether to seek revenge against his royal father's presumed slayer... the man who now sits on the throne and shares the bed of Hamlet's mother. (Or, as the song "That's Entertainment" summarizes the plot: "A ghost and a prince meet / And everyone winds up mincemeat.") As a director, Branagh (who shot the movie in 70 mm.) uses the vast, cold interiors of a vaguely 19th-century manor to gorgeous effect; the story might scurry down this hallway, into that back chamber, or sprawl out into the enormous main room. With its endless collection of mirrors, the place is as big and empty as Citizen Kane's Xanadu.

That all works. What doesn't work is Branagh's tendency to over-direct the big dramatic moments. He indulges in quick cutting and flashbacks as though to fend off the audience's objections to the four-hour running time, and the style sometimes looks like wasted energy. The experienced Shakespearians in the cast come off nicely. Derek Jacobi's Claudius, Richard Briers' Polonius, and Michael Maloney's Laertes are just terrific. Julie Christie is a suitably attractive Gertrude, and Kate Winslet makes the most of Ophelia's mad scenes. Branagh's habit of folding in unexpected American performers is on the mark, too: Billy Crystal is surprisingly good as the Gravedigger, Robin Williams predictably camps up Osric, and Charlton Heston is an inspired choice as the grandiloquent Player King. The biggest irony here is that Branagh himself is not quite spot-on as Hamlet. Of course he speaks the lines beautifully, but Branagh's screen personality radiates certainty and clarity of vision. There's little of the doubt that might make him Hamlet-esque. Still, tremendous credit for fending off slings and arrows to get the movie made. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Jim Campbell on 16 Oct. 2007
Format: DVD
Wow.

Just as Branagh trumped Olivier's version of Henry V, so he does it again, this time producing the definitive screen Hamlet.

There are flaws, admittedly, so lets get them out of the way. There is some dodgy blue-screen work, and a couple of actors are, if we're honest, out of their depth (Jack Lemmon is a fine actor, but Shakespeare does not apparently come easy to him!).

Once you get past these minor quibbles however, you are left with one of the most sumptuous films ever shot. It just looks stunning, and makes the inexcusable wait for a dvd release almost worthwhile! The acting (for the most part!) is breathtaking. The famous scene with Hamlet and Gertrude in her bedroom is one of the most moving I've ever watched, Branagh stripping bare Hamlets grief as he sees his father's ghost. "On him, on him". Watch it and weep. The score is spot-on, the sets magnificent, and the script is well, the finest piece of work in English literature.

The finest film version of the greatest playwright's finest work. An unabashed masterpiece.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Inez Holmes on 1 Feb. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I already possess a VHS of this film, but I was tempted by the low price of this DVD set and by the extras. I am a great admirer of Kenneth Branagh's acting and directing, and his production of the complete version of "Hamlet" is a noble endeavour. It is beautifully filmed, and there is some stupendous acting from Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Kate Winslet and of course Branagh himself. I also enjoyed spotting well known faces in the cameo performances dotted throughout the play. I thought it was a brilliant idea to set the film in the 1870s, which did much to underline the stifling atmosphere of the Danish court and the pseudo-respectability of characters like Polonius and his Victorian obsession with decorum.

I have given the film a four-star instead of a five-star rating for the reason hinted at in the title: it simply is too rushed. Although it's possible to read the play in four hours, a complete acted version cannot be squeezed into this time frame without sacrificing some of its depth: "To be or not to be", for instance, was traversed at full gallop, and the general impression given was rather breathless. Hamlet's nature is contemplative, and he needs time to put his reflections across. Moreover, a film cannot be directed in the same way as a stage play: the best films convey much of their message through the medium of the image, and this often takes some time. Should Branagh have made some cuts in the text in order to slow the action down? I think not: he wanted to do something that had never been attempted before, and by all accounts this meant a great deal to him. Perhaps he should have made it even longer, at the risk of alienating viewers with short attention spans - but such viewers find a four-hour film too long in any case.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2008
Format: DVD
This is a Shakespeare play about the prince of Denmark and tragedy surrounding the family. Many people want to say the prince Hamlet is indecision yet he outmaneuvers just about everyone and has depth of vision. Now watch as Hamlet discovers who killed the king, his father, and how he attempts to get his revenge.

The only negative thing I could think of this Kenneth Branagh interpretation is the costume period is not what I was brought up on in the other versions and books. Jack Lemmon was sort of a distraction.

Now that being said, I never knew how good Hamlet could be until I saw the Kenneth Branagh version. For some reason I never noticed the missing dialog in the other versions until I was treated to the complete dialog in this version. The filled in parts give the story more meaning. Everyone else, even Hamlet (1948) with Laurence Olivier seems like the Readers digest version. I do not think you want to hear comparisons and contrasts of acting styles; so I will just say this film changed what would have been a nice story to actually feel that you are there.

Take caution before purchasing/downloading any rendition of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet as there are some edited versions that may not be complete.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By mello on 2 Oct. 2007
Format: DVD
Any Shakespeare fan will not be disappointed! this full text 4 hour epic is exciting, funny, scary and a true work of art. Althoug 4 hours is a long running time I did not get bored once. The film is split between 2 DVDs, both containing extras. The extras are good but i'm always slightly disappointed when there are no outtakes...
I highly recommend this to even people who are not usually fans of shakespeare. The brilliant acting allows you to understand what is happening, even in a particular wordy scene. And Kenneth Branagh is fanyastic!!! watch it =)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 19 Jan. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Hamlet is acknowledged as one of the greatest plays in Shakespeare's canon, if not THE greatest. Full of dense plot, character study, introspection, intrigue, supernatural elements and swordfights, it has everything. It's a great story, but Shakespeare's words, insights and language really lift it to the heights of greatness. Performed well it can be a riveting four hours.

I really have to take my hat off to Kenneth Brannagh for this superb production. First of all, just getting it off the ground must have been a major struggle - can you imagine going to a studio and asking for money to make a 4 hour film, all the characters speaking solely in 16th century English, and with such a dense and intricate story line following so many characters? It must have been a tough sell!

Having got the funding Brannagh then decided to use 65 mm film, an unusual choice these days. It proved to be a wise decision, and the photography has a feeling of breadth and depth that really matches the epic scope of the story.

This is a lavish and sumptuous film, which has the feeling of a no expenses spared production. The money spent was definitely worth it. It is a superb telling of Hamlet, a gripping visual feast from start to finish. There is a host of well known actors from both sides of the Atlantic. In the main they are well chosen and bring the characters to memorable life. Standouts are Brian Blessed as the Ghost of Hamlet's father - his controlled, whispered delivery is totally at odds with his usual bluff shouting style, and the more effective for it. Derek Jacobi excels as a particularly slimy Claudius, and Richard Briers is a revelation as Polonious - he is even better than Ian Holm in Franco Zephirelli's production a few years earlier.
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