I think I may have seen two versions of this. We read it in
high school, and I think we may have seen the Laurence Olivier
version of it. But if we did, I don't remember it, which makes
me doubt I saw it at all. (I like to think I wouldn't forget
it.) Unfortunately, I don't know if it's available for purchase
separately; the only copy I can find on Amazon.com
is the Olivier
collection, which includes Hamlet, Henry V, and The Entertainer.
And even more unfortunately, it's rather expensive (about $54.98),
so it's probably best for hardcore fans.
do know I saw the 1996 Kenneth
Branagh version, and I liked it a lot. It's supposed to be
the only version that uses the complete text of the original
play, and it shows: this version is close to four hours long.
It also uses what Leonard Maltin calls "stunt casting":
Jack Lemmon, Charleton Heston, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams
all have small roles. Basically, I can recommend this movie to anyone, whether
your a fan of Shakespeare or not. Just remember, you're going
to have to have a good chunk of time free in order to watch it
all in one sitting.
haven't seent the Mel
Gibson version (or, if you prefer the Franco
Zeffirrelli version), basically because I was worried that
Danny Glover would show up quoting some line like, "Forsooth,
good prince, I cannot partake in your schemes, for I am but a
fortnight away from receiving my pension." (Then again,
it wasn't directed by Richard Donner.) From what I've read, though,
it's supposed to be pretty decent, so I'll try to watch it soon.
The Internet Movie Database
lists no fewer than forty-five different filmed versions of Hamlet,
with an additional sixteen television versions. The list goes
back to 1900, with a silent version starring Sarah Bernhard as
Hamlet (!). Another
interesting version that I would like to see is a 1980 BBC-TV
production, with Derek Jacobi (who played Claudius in the
Branagh version) as Hamlet, and Patrick Stewart as Claudius.
that is available from Amazon.com is a 1969
version which was directed by Tony Richardson (who won the
Best Director Oscar in 1964 for Tom
Jones) and stars Nicol Williamson as Hamlet, Anthony Hopkins
as Claudius, and, believe it or not, singer Marianne Faithful
as Ophelia. Anjelica Houston is also listed in the credits, but
it must have been a small role, since her character's name is
"Court Lady." Reviews for this one are mixed: people
seem to either love it or hate it. I'd check the video store
to see if you can rent it before shelling out the $17 to buy
Finally, last fall Ethan Hawke announced that he was going
to update Hamlet,
and the IMDB lists the movie as being released in 1999, but given
the fact that I can't find any official information about it
(there's plenty of "news" and rumors), I seriously
doubt this movie will be ready this year. If anyone has any other
information about it, please e-mail
me with the details.