Details

Produced by Le Studio Canal and a whole host of other companies, 1990. Directed by Franco Zefferelli (Othello, Tea with Mussolini). Starring Mel Gibson as Hamlet with Glenn Close, Alan Bates, Ian Holm and Helena Bonham Carter. Nat plays Laertes, the brother of Ophelia.


   

Plot Summary

This is a boned down version of Shakespeare's play. The plot focuses on Hamlet's plotting revenge on Claudius, his dead father's brother and murderer and Hamlet's new step-father. Hamlet's love, Ophelia, is shunted aside in Hamlet's increasingly mad ruminations. She goes mad herself, drowning. Hamlet further compounds his crimes by accidentally killing Polonius, Ophelia's father. Polonius and Ophelia are revenged by Laertes, who challenges Hamlet to a duel. In the final scene, everyone gets what's coming to them, even poor Laertes.

General Review

I enjoyed this movie when it first came out. It has some great performances - Glenn Close and Alan Bates as Gertrude and Claudius are wonderful and Ian Holm makes an obedient Polonius. I liked Mel as Hamlet on first viewing. However, having now seen Branagh's Hamlet, this one is lessened by comparison, particularly Mel in the title role. This is a grittier Hamlet, and shorter - darker literally and figuratively. It's interesting to see Helena Bonham Carter with Nat paired as brother and sister because Nat rather is the male Helena Bonham Carter, isn't he? A dark haired, sweet-faced, period piece professional. In summary: if you love Shakespeare, this Hamlet is well worth adding to the list of variations you've seen, but it's not the ultimate Hamlet.

Nat Review

 

Wonderful. I love watching Nat do Shakespeare. This film and Othello are two of my favorite performances of his, both done with first rate co-actors. As Laertes, Nat, as with Cassio, does the 'straight, honorable and naïve' thing very well. Laertes has a bit more of a temper than Cassio, though, and the role involves a more emotional performance. The final battle scene between Laertes and Hamlet is worth the price of admission alone.

Trivia

Alan Bates played Gabriel Oak in the 1967 version of Far from the Madding Crowd. Bates played Claudius to Nat's Laertes in Hamlet.

Status

Out on DVD in the USA, in 2006 there are plans to issue it in the UK and Germany, too.

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