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Customer Review

23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither Fish Nor Fowl, 1 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Hamlet [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I was lucky enough to see this production in Stratford and so was very excited when it was announced that they would film the production for DVD/Television. However, what you will see on the DVD is not entirely as it was originally staged. There were some very inventive things in the stage version (the use of the mirrors being one) that don't make it to the final version. It was almost as if the director didn't trust that an audience watching it on screen could stay gripped by a single set.

Greg Doran added the security cameras and at times the audience saw the action through the camera. This, at first, was an intriguing idea, but fell foul when you think that at any point Claudius could have checked up on Hamlet - that is, until Hamlet ripped one of the cameras off the wall saying, 'Now I am alone.' Cameras also came into play during the play-within-a-play scene where Tennant's Hamlet pointed an old 8mm camera at Claudius to capture his expression on film. This camera also came into play in the later solliloquoys by Tennant while travelling back to Elsinore.

That said, there were many sections of the production which were just 'point & shoot' moments, particularly when David Tennant was doing the solliloquoys. This was when the production looked more familiar to anyone who might have seen it on stage. Doran should either have shot the production as he originally staged it or, completely revamped it. It sat uneasily as neither a filmed version of a stage adaptation nor as a filmed version of the play.

What was probably the most striking thing about the DVD was how unattractive some of the actors looked in the DVD, the oddities Mariah Gayle's face made her seem quite ugly at times, and Edward Bennett's rather jutting overbite was also off-putting. I suppose that's the effect of high definition and the use close ups.

If you want to buy it for Tennant's Hamlet and Patrick Stewart's fine Claudius/Ghost, please do. If you're expecting to see what you saw at Stratford or London, don't bother.Hamlet [DVD]
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Jan 2010 21:35:40 GMT
minzdose says:
thanks for the warning, so I won´t be dissapppointed too much.
I was expecting a filmed version of the original production, where especially the mirrors were quite impressive.

Posted on 4 Jan 2010 20:39:21 GMT
SB says:
Personally, I don't think how attractive -or not- the actors appear to be has anything to do with the standard of their performances or the production as a whole, and am surprised that anyone would think this worth mentioning, but anyway...

What I really wanted to know was just how much of the original text was cut for the 2009 production and this subsequent film, as I hear that even at this length parts of certain speeches have been cut.

This is why -despite enjoying watching this version very much I am still unsure about buying it.

Can anyone confirm these cuts? Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jan 2010 11:21:47 GMT
Ripple says:
As with most productions, there are cuts. - although what you view as a cut depends on what "original" you are referring to. Mostly, this uses the Folio I believe rather than the several quarto versions although it's a bit of a mix, I believe. That's significant as the placing of things like the "To be or not to be speech" are in very different places. But to answer your question as best I can recall, the main noticable cut is all the stuff about Hamlet escaping from the boat to England. He just reappears in Denmark.

From memory, I believe the Keneth Branagh version has .. well all you can say is "more words" .. but IMHO this is a better production and is certainly worth buying. Plus on the DVD you can listen to Greg Doran's commentary which explains some of the textual choices.

That might not answer your question, but I hope it's of some help.

Posted on 12 Feb 2010 15:25:20 GMT
B. Miller says:
I think it was a shame that much of the detail about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's deaths was cut, since this part shows Hamlet at his most devious, and without it, as you say, he just reappears in Denmark - which can be slightly confusing.

Despite this, however, I think the production was fantastic. I did not see it staged, so cannot compare on that front; but I disagree with your concern about the shooting of it for film. "It sat uneasily as neither a filmed version of a stage adaptation nor as a filmed version of the play", you said. But what aspect of this play is meant to sit easily with the audience? The play itself is set up to leave a strange feeling of unease as the curtain falls, and I think Goran has successfully continued this aspect of the work by making it both-and-neither, updating the intended feeling given off by the story for the new medium, in a way that Shakespeare would approve, I think. It didn't sit well with me, either; but that was the point - to revel in making the audience feel uneasy - and I liked it for that reason.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2010 10:47:40 GMT
onlyme1234 says:
I can confirm that there is at least one cut. In the Hamlet soliloquy 'to be, or not to be'. There are propably more cuts. But don't let it put you down, if you like a modern day Hamlet, I think this is an excellent choice. Watch the behind the scenes extra first, you'll know why certain choices were made, why the mirrors which seemed to have been part of the stage production, were left out in the film production etc.
Compared: I have the BBC 1978 Hamlet which is 3,5 hours long, the one with Branagh seems to be complete with four hours. This one is three hours long.
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Location: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

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