First of all, what there is of this version of Hamlet is first class. Mel Gibson proves a warm, likeable, and surpisingly convincing lead. Helena Bonham Carter and Ian Holm live up to their billing is two of the leading actors of their respective generations. The settings are atmospheric and superb and Old Hamlet stares with eyes of infinite sadness. Best of all is the scene between Hamlet and Gertrude, as Hamlet throttles her with a pendant of the king. There are subtle undertones in this scene, directed with Zefirelli's customary flair. It is well worth seeing: in every respect it is a fascinating production. Except: this is so heavily edited that it loses so much of Shakespeare's nuances of language. Shakespeare is so much more than just plot - most of those were not his own, and Hamlet is no exception to that. If all Hamlet were was a story about a man who eventually avenged his father, it would be unremarkable. To cut so much is to give the play a rushed and sketchy appearance, as if the director is trying to provide excuses for Shakespeare's language, rather than revelling in it and presenting it as it is, almost unparalled as a dramatic artform at that particular point in history. This, I think, is a shame. Branagh's version is embarassingly bad at times, and nobody has ever fully explained to me why he chose to put it in some hinterland between its Medieval setting and a modern equivalence. However, one thing that Branagh is not afraid of: the words. All of them are there. A shame that they weren't in this version.