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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive
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...
Published on 16 Oct 2007 by Jim Campbell

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly "abridged"
I received my copy of Hamlet, dying to watch the unabridged version (or based on the unabridged text) as mentioned in the amazon video details page, and to my dismay, realised my version was only 121 minutes long. It is not the unabridged Hamlet - it is shortened and adapted. The Hamlet based on the unabridged text of Shakespeare (as claimed by amazon) is up to 4 hours...
Published on 8 Feb 2004 by Tanja Gehren


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's Hamlet, 7 Jun 2009
By 
This review is from: Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Must be seen on a large TV screen. Best film of Hamlet I have seen.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious but Fun, 31 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Hamlet [VHS] [1997] (VHS Tape)
First of all beware: There are two versions on VHS for this play, one is the full four and half hours, the other is about half that, so check before you buy.
For the swash-buckling film connosieur, there's not much in here to really make you salivate. However, from a theater goer's point of view, being rammed into seats next to some burlesque frumpet who smells vaguely of cat urine for two and half hours in front of a hot and sweaty stage, only to get a two minute break where you have to remortgage your house in order to buy an ice cream, it is a relief.
It is budget Branagh painted to look like a hollywood spectacular, so it does have its amusing moments of melodrama. The seriousness of the Ghost's arrival is somewhat ruined instantaneously by the fact it is Brian Blessed, which made me think of Blackadder rather than the writhing soul of Kenneth and also that it looks as if the film has been spliced with scenes from 60's Star Trek.
However, if you like a lot of energy, and don't mind if Kenneth does get a little bit over-egged into the role, and you enjoy seeing the whole play in all it's glory then it comes thoroughly recommended. Especially good for literature students. (See below).
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18 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the 4 hours version, 22 Feb 2006
This review is from: Hamlet [VHS] [1997] (VHS Tape)
This item is not the complete 4 hours version, contrarily to what the Amazon.co.uk review may lead you to believe, but a 2 hours version. It is not bad, but a big letdown if you're expecting as I was for the complete movie.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous, 6 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I viewed three Hamlet versions: BBC, Sir Laurence Olivier and now Branagh.

This version is an "hybrid": subtle and medieval Shakespeare poetry in vulgar "operette" interpretation.

Branagh is not credible in Hamlet (I liked very much him in Henry V) .

Overall weakness is badly compensated with modern Hollywood mega-production artifices.

For me this version is unbearable I could not go through the end.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Screeenplay, with one problem..., 13 July 2010
This review is from: Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
This is a fantastic cinematic production of Hamlet, let down by the fact that Branagh is far too old to play the young, mad prince. Being the age he is, he injects an older man's passion into the role, an older man's diatribe of the fortunes and misfortunes of youth. Branagh should have cast a younger man in the role of Hamlet and concentrated on his excellent directorial skills.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too theatrical for cinema, 25 April 2014
This review is from: Hamlet [VHS] [1997] (VHS Tape)
Having read Branagh's introduction to the screenplay, I see with what love and knowledge he brings this to the screen. There's so much snobbery around Shakespeare, as if his work cannot be criticised and anyone who does so much be of little understanding. No-one is above reproof, and if holy books are critiqued, surely secular works can be?

My remarks are on this as a film. It is far too much like an opulent filmed play, and cinema and filmed theatre are not the same. The whispering of the RSC that I find so cloying on stage is even worse in a film, except for the few times that characters would really whisper (eg Hamlet near the graveside, not wanting to be heard by the group who's just entered). We often hear what we could see - and in the theatre where impending battalions or outdoor drowning would be difficult, one understands the choice to have it explained, not shown; but it felt odd to have Ophelia's death told entirely by her would be mother in law, wonderfully delivered as it is, and only the slightest glimpse of the image of famous paintings (ie Ophelia in the water).

There are a couple of exceptions - Fortinbras's army and Ophelia and Hamlet being lovers - where imagery adds insight and make the speeches effectively voiceovers.

The dialogue otherwise feels relentless; and the acting, although heartfelt and no doubt with great craft and understanding, felt overegged and entirely wrong for the cinema. Hamlet himself sometimes feels that he's acting against or obliviously to those around him - literal over or out acting. It's often sexist, with violent or controlling gestures towards women (and smaller male parts, such as grabbing their faces and arms and flinging them against walls and mirrors).

I'd like to single out Julie Christie and Kate Winslet, who manage to make their speeches sound more naturalised, as if if this poetic, antiquated language is what their characters would really say. On every other lips, it felt laboured.

I wondered if there are missing scenes around Ophelia's madness, as she seems to scream over her murdered father (understandably) and then be in a padded cell and then dying all too quickly, and her arc feels as if a large chunk of curve is missing, like a mismatched mosaic tile.

Although Kenneth says that before he really understood Shakespeare, he thrilled at the story when performed; I did not share this - a violent, vengeful end (for most of the remaining cast) is not my idea of a satisfying or exciting denouement.

Packed with most English 'quality' actors of the time (and a couple of foreign ones), it felt over filled, and it's strange that Billy Crystal and Robin Williams are credited on the cover but Brian Blessed and Richard Briars (who plays a longer part) are not.

I had little pleasure at this, although I tried my best to engage, apart from charting Kate Winslet's career progressing.

Just because it's the bard doesn't mean his work must be untouched when translated - the point is the no medium slips exactly from one to the other. It's not the length but that this feels more like the live satellite broadcasts to cinemas than an actual film.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hey there's so & so....., 10 May 2011
This review is from: Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Mr Branagh drags along all & sundry to star in his interpretation of this classic. However, this is the first full text film version I've seen & I realised how the play is open to endless variations.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing., 9 Dec 2010
This review is from: Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Ive always loved shakespeare, and more specifically hamlet. if you are looking for the full experience then the only way you can beat kenneth branaghs version is to go and watch it on stage.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD Quality Notes, 22 Feb 2010
By 
Mark Douglas (NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
This is probably the BEST transfer of a film on DVD I have EVER SEEN!!!! I played it on my Samsung Blu-Ray player via HDMI and the picture was flawless. There is truely no need to wait until a Blu-Ray edition. The whole film is stable in colour and quality beyond anything I've ever seen. Bargain price - buy it now!!!!!
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14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 20 Oct 2013
This review is from: Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I heard this was based on the Lion King, but it's rubbish. 4 hours long - not a single musical number and absolutely no lions.
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Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996]
Hamlet (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1996] by Kenneth Branagh (DVD - 2007)
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