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

Kenneth Branagh    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
Price: 5.40 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] + Hamlet [DVD] [2009] + King Lear [DVD]
Price For All Three: 14.91

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  • Hamlet [DVD] [2009] 5.06
  • King Lear [DVD] 4.45

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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 Sep 2007
  • Run Time: 242 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000WF0BXE
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,563 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



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

Product Description

Kenneth Branagh's four-hour production of Shakespeare's full text for Hamlet is visually lush (shot in 70mm, which is rarely done) and full of fascinating story moments that normally get cut from shorter stage versions. (Your idea of what kind of fellow Polonius is may change quite a bit.) The unexpurgated approach is truly enlightening, and Branagh intermittently succeeds at giving familiar moments in the drama an original cinematic spin, including Hamlet's spooky confrontation with his father's ghost (Brian Blessed). (Branagh also imposes some Hollywood glitter on the proceedings by casting the likes of Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Charlton Heston and Jack Lemmon in the smaller parts.) The pre-Titanic Kate Winslet is very good as the doomed Ophelia, and Derek Jacobi delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance as Claudius, whose character is definitely filled out by the restored material. Branagh's own performance is a little revisionist--some viewers have quibbled with it while others seem fine. --Tom Keogh. Langages avialabel on the dvd are: English,Castillian Spanish,German,Polish & Portuguese,Subtitles: English,C/Spanish,German,Greek,Polish & Portuguese.Extra features including introductions/commentary by Kenneth Branagh & Russell Jackson,'Featurette,Film promo,Shakespeare movie trailor gallery.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive 16 Oct 2007

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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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
By mello
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking Hamlet 10 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Here's a film to take your breath away. Branagh is outstanding in the lead and has gathered a star cast to make a visually stunning and beautifully realised interpretation of Shakespeare that will appeal to today's audience. How tragic that this, the full version, is no longer available and the only video now on the market is a horribly butchered travesty that contains only half the original footage.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply: Excellent! 6 Jan 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Kenneth Brannagh is with very little doubt one the the best directors and actors of Shakespeare's texts. His ability to clarify meanigs of the play through precise interpretation is beautifully exemplified in this production of Hamlet. It is clear to any observer that Brannagh understands Shakespeare with ease. This enables the observer to understand the words and story beter themselves. If any one has any qualms or difficulties with understanding Shakespeare then just buy this; it is enjoyable for all and easily understandable.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hit, A Very Palpable Hit! 26 Nov 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Four hours of rhyming couplets is not everyone's idea of a fun Friday night in, but in truth you could watch this with the sound turned fully off and still be moved by its beauty and emotional punch.

Yes, it's a masterpiece - both Shakespeare's and Branagh's. Yes, it has an astonishing cast. Yes, the set design and cinematography are stunning and hauntingly memorable, but at the end of the day it's simply a great film of a great story told very well and acted in the most accessible and wonderful way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 4 Aug 2011
Reading Hamlet always makes me annoyed at the emotional danish prince, acting like a moody teenager. However seeing it performed (I have yet to be lucky enough to see it set on stage) by the wonderful Kenneth Branagh brings an awed tear to my eye. I remember first seeing this film when I was 6 or 7, it was close to christmas and all the grownups were busy decorating the house and the only thing i was allowed to do was sit idly on the sofa not touching anything. So i started watching whatever was on the TV. As the sound was turned off it didn't catch my interest right away, but after glancing at it on and off i was intrigued by the pretty colors, the strangely behaving white-haired man and the spooky story. When it finished i was horror struck and deeply moved by a story I didn't quite understand, as I had not heard a word the actors had spoken. 10 years later i was reading Hamlet in school and finally allowed to see and HEAR the film in its entirety. And i must say, it gets much better with the sound on : ) Branagh is one of my favorite actors and to see him effortlessly play the strange Hamlet is something everyone should experience.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet is staggering and breathtaking. 3 Nov 2007
By film fan VINE VOICE
What the screenwriter/director/actor Kenneth Branagh has done here is give us the full unabridged version of William Shakespeare's famous Danish Prince. It runs in at a staggering 232 minutes. On this 2-disc special edition, the film is shown on both discs which also contain special features which I admit I haven't seen yet.

As far as the film is concerned, it's a sprawling epic with gorgeous cinematography and lucious production design and it's directed with beautiful skill by Kenneth Branagh possibly Britain's best filmmaker of Shakespeare. With Branagh as Hamlet, joining him is a cast that's a who's who of international acting talent including Kate Winslet, Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Brian Blessed, Richard Briers, Charlton Heston, Jack Lemmon, Rufus Sewell, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Timothy Spall, John Gielgud, Judy Dench and Richard Attenborough among others.

I've seen this film a couple of times now, having first seen it 10 years ago on VHS video. I've waited that long for it to be available on DVD and now it's here where it belongs in my opinion. As far as I'm concerned, this is the definitive and most accessible version of Hamlet available. Kenneth Branagh has done the impossible. He's given us the full text and done it with style and passion making it look gorgeous and incredibly exciting. The impressive and sweeping score by Patrick Doyle is wonderful throughout and it's a great compliment to the film. One of the best epics I've seen.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile Viewing
Yes, it's a bit of a marathon but as there are two discs one can watch it over two episodes. Many years ago I twice saw productions of this play on stage at The Old Vic. Read more
Published 12 days ago by GMR
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Arrived very quickly, good product but had to return the first one as corners were damaged. Second one came with corners slightly damaged. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Katy Rogerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet masterclass
Long running time but always entertaining. Superb performances throughout and excellent value for money. Essential part of the collection. Thanks, Ken!
Published 1 month ago by Malcolm Terry
2.0 out of 5 stars Too theatrical for cinema
Having read Branagh's introduction to the screenplay, I see with what love and knowledge he brings this to the screen. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Elspeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet
This is the best film of Hamlet I've seen fior some time and for those who like spotting movie stars this is the dvd to have. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Philip Noble
5.0 out of 5 stars Classical theatre with a "movieng" stage. Amazing!
Hamlet in full text is something rare even in a Theatre performance, and is normally given as impossible in a movie version. Branagh made the impossible. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Laura
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfull !!
Without doubt the best Hamlet I have seen .Indeed probably the best Shakespeare I have seen on screen.Watched all 4 hours in one sitting and the time it did fly. Read more
Published 3 months ago by j Galbraith
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
Hamlet is not everybody's cup of tea but for any fans this has to be the definitive version. The acting is excellent, the sets impressive but I really like it because I imagine... Read more
Published 4 months ago by bugeyed from books
5.0 out of 5 stars I was not quite expecting this
UK DVD version.

Not sure why I purchased this - I think I'd clicked it as a "wish list" item and pressed the wrong button - serendipity. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Combat Wombat
5.0 out of 5 stars easy to follow shakespeare
Probably the best version of Hamlet ever,Kenneth Branagh is superb and by clever acting and such clear diction I find it so easy to follow the plot,its very lavishly made and so is... Read more
Published 5 months ago by cynthia
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