on 2 January 2010
I would say ,it is a must buy for me . I am really pleased the BBC got together with the RSC and filmed this production ,that I saw in Stratford in the summer.I wish the RSC had done the same with the Tempest that toured britain with the RSC also last year.First of all I had "issues " with Hamlet in Stratford, I felt Tennant lacked passion , anger , and his antic disposition pretend madness, to me was un- convincing.He seemed flat in his delivery of important lines. This malaise also seemed to be present in Gertrude who at one point proclaimed "O Hamlet thou has cleft my heart in twain " as if O its raining again outside.However , I sat down on boxing day to watch it on the BBC and was moved to tears.I thought it was great.Tennant in speaking the to be or not to be speech with close camera work , nailed the whole peice.This dvd will deliver those moments when such a familier play will offer another set of insights into the interpretation of key moments in the play.I have everything on DVD concerning Hamlet , this production ranks one of the best.
on 18 January 2010
This particular production WILL become the definitive Hamlet for a generation. People will say this is purely for Tennant and Stewart. For the most part they will be right, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Undoubtedly the pair have avid followers from their many years in science fiction, and here they feed off their previous roles. Rather than detract from their performances, I say that experience enriches it. Here both play similar characters to what they've become famous for (though clearly with a twist - especially in the case of Stewart, who plays the villain with elegance) they appear completely at ease as Hamlet and Claudius, when it seems other members of the cast are not so comfortable. Until Ophelia went mad I kept wondering 'what on earth does THIS Hamlet see in her?', and Laertes had no strength of character, no real sense of threat - even when he pulled a gun on Claudius. As for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern...anyone who has scene Tim Roth and Gary Oldman in the roles will probably consider this pair a minor let down.
However, Hamlet, Gertrude, and Claudius demanded my full attention every second they remained on screen. The time spent watching them was a pleasure that moved me both to fright and laughter - some times in the same scene. By the last I was reduced to tears, as it fitting for the finale of a tragedy (though I admit I'm not usually one to reach for the tissue box).
There has never been another RSC production where I've felt so jealous of all those who saw it on stage. You lucky, lucky swine.
on 13 February 2010
I saw this as a fan of David Tennant and a lover of all things Shakespeare, and I loved every minute! In addition to David Tennant bringing an exciting new reading of the title character -- adding humor where I'd never seen it and new interpretations of lines which have become practically stale with repitition, I loved Oliver Ford Davies' Polonius. It was an entirely different Polonius, and it was like all of the sudden he made sense, which was surprising and refreshing! And it was very well shot on location, so didn't feel at all like a filmed stage production. If you like Hamlet or David Tennant or both, see this!!
on 11 December 2010
This is an excellent production, with superb performance from all the actors, and a highly experienced director who certanly knows his Shakespeare well. It is so refreshing to find many new interpretations of the actual play in small details,to name a few, like Claudius being prompted by Gertrude about Wittenberg, Polonius, sotte voce, prompting Laertes to talk to the King, Hamlet's reflection on the cracked mirror, the gravedigger checking his watch during the funeral,etc. Some lines from the play were very discretely omitted, rather than omitting certain scenes to make the film more acceptable for modern audieces who are not used to sitting for the three and a half hours of the original play. The characters are more human creatures than they are in most productions, therefore one can relate to them better. Hamlet is no longer the Prince with "the courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword" but a young man in excruciating pain; Claudius is not just "the smiling villain" but also the man carrying the burden of his sin, and with a shrug resigning to his fate; Gertrude is not a feather brained woman manipuated by Claudius but a woman in her own right; Polonius, though the revered councillor of state, is an interfering, pompous and " a foolish prattling knave". Ophilia is no longer the traditional "nymph" but has come out straight from Shakespeare's Sonnet #130, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun". The film follows Arthur Miller's views about the tragedy of the common man, and presents all the characters as one of us. However, if you are a traditional Hamlet lover, this film may not be for you.
on 27 December 2009
Gripping, tragic, a bit funny and utterly absorbing. The best Shakespeare production I have ever seen.
It goes without saying that David Tennant's Hamlet is outstanding. The rest of the cast are just as good, especially Mariah Gale as Ophelia, her madness is superb.
The production team also deserve honours. The set is beautiful, costume perfect and props ingenious. It has been translated well from the stage, remaining very much a play but at the same time incorporating some clever cinematic devices that keep the eye interested.
All in all superb. 183 minutes will feel like 20.
on 21 February 2012
In a lifetime of watching Shakespeare I have seen more Hamlets than any other play, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime but I struggle to recall a better performance than David Tennants. I knew the production had received critical acclaim but this is in guarantee of excellence, nor did I Have high hopes for tennant's performance. He is superb. He delivers the lines with clarity both of diction and of meaning making this a truly accessible interpretation - an important factor when you consider that for many David Tennant fans this would be a first experience of Shakespeare. You cannot of course put on a great Hamlet if the rear of the cast don't turn up. In this he is ably supported with particularly fine Gertrude and Polonius. If you love Shakespeare you will enjoy this. If you have never tried him, this could be the one for you.
on 12 November 2010
David Tennant is easily the most fantastic Hamlet I have ever seen. He plays the part beautifully, just the right amout of passion and emotion. He gives a brand new indepth insight to the world of Hamlet. The entire cast was expertly chosen and there is not one member that does not fit in. Patrick Stewart executes King Claudius' character wonderfully. The character of Polonius was cast perfectly and I would not like to see any other person in this role. Ophelias madness scene is moving and portrays a broken mind in a brand new way. I showed this version in my english class and not one pupil disliked it, in fact they were even willing to stay behind after school to watch bits again. I would recommend this to anybody, even people who are new to Shakespeare.
As a production of Hamlet, this is very very good. It takes a very definite interpretation, namely that Hamlet's madness is a calculated step and pushes it through. The performances are uniformly excellent. Oliver Ford Davies is a delightfully pedantic and tedious Polonius, Edward Bennett as Laertes brings the words "his father's son" to life, Mariah Gale is a suitably tragic Ophelia and Penny Downie fully brings out the conflicts between mother, wife and woman. Patrick Stewart is a very good Claudius, he as ever gives the Patrick Stewart performance, but fortunately he is very good at it. And so the big question - does Tennant cut it as Hamlet. For me he does, and there is one aspect of his performance which really nails the part. Yes, he finds the humour in the part, but even more so, he finds the pain behind the humour, to be cliched, we are seeing the tears of the clown. When I saw this production in Stratford I found myself wanting to scream at the audience, "Don't laugh it's too painful".
It is interesting to compare this DVD with the play in stratford, for example the strong mirror-imagery of the stage is here replaced by a recurring theme of observation through CCTV. But overall the comparison is to the detriment of DVD, not just this one, but all DVDs based on stage productions. The essential excitement of sitting in a room with the actors there in front of you can never be repeated on screen.
So for what it is, this DVD is excellent and definitely recommended, it just can't compare with the stage.
This is a fine, accessible Hamlet made in a claustrophobic Helsinore, recreated in an old Catholic college in north London, a world in which CCTV cameras forever snoop on the young prince and his friends. I've seen many Hamlets in my time, and it is to the credit of all concerned that they are improving. The National's recent production with Rory Kinnear was sublime, though arguably this DVD creates the gold standard for recent years.
Gregory Doran's recreation of his stage version of Hamlet works brilliantly in the lavish setting, truly a stage set for a fine cast. Tennant takes to the Dane like a duck to water, an emotional Hamlet who hides his inner turmoil with mocking sarcasm. He is ably supported by a fine cast. Patrick Stewart's Claudius justly won an Olivier award, but there is not a weak link anywhere: Penny Downie's grieving Gertrude, railing against her son's verbal assaults; Mariah Gale's brittle Ophelia, the pompous yet powerful Polonius in a masterful performance by Oliver Ford Davies. The soliloquies veer from intimate close-ups to tempestuous ranting. Arguably my only criticism of substance is that shooting Polonius is instinctively wrong!
This is an exceptional DVD package too, with a "making of" documentary especially worth seeing. I urge you to buy!
on 3 December 2011
Excellent TV production with David Tennant in the title role. As a retired Principal Teacher of English I wish this DVD had been around when I was teaching. I am sorry the part of Fortinbras was largely omitted including the fourth soliloquy. Nevertheless it is a good production with much to commend it. Apart from wonderful delivery of the part David Tennant shows excellent body language in his interpretation. This is a good buy.