Discovering Hamlet 1989 NR

Amazon Instant Video

(8) IMDb 8/10

A unique, behind-the-scenes look at Shakespeare's great play. In 1988, rising star Kenneth Branagh played the Prince of Denmark for the first time. His guide through four weeks of rehearsals at England's Birmingham Repertory Theatre: famed actor Derek Jacobi, "the best Hamlet of his generation" (New York Times). Watch what happens from the first dress rehearsal to the tension-filled opening night. Narrated by Patrick Stewart.

Starring:
Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh
Runtime:
53 minutes

Discovering Hamlet

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Documentary
Director Mark Olshaker
Starring Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh
Supporting actors Richard Easton, Derek Jacobi, Edward Jewesbury, David Parfitt, Patrick Stewart, Sophie Thompson, Jay Villiers, Jimmy Yuill, Dearbhla Molloy
Studio Acorn Media
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Griffey on January 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
For anyone interested in a behind the scenes look at how a play proceeds through production this video is for you. The Birmingham Repertory Theater is the setting for this production directed by Derek Jacobi with Kenneth Branagh taking the lead as Hamlet. Narration is provided by Patrick Stewart to guide viewers through the production process. Interspersed between scenes of the rehearsals are interviews with the various actors discussing their characters. I would have like a longer interview with the director, Derek Jacobi, discussing his vision of Hamlet but all in all this is quite a good video.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on December 18, 2010
Format: DVD
A team of renown Hamlets providing educational behind-the-opening-night reality of stage preparation. Excellence for that use. I have years of experience as set designer/construction/crew with community theater. This is an honest look, but on a professional level, the very best of Hamlet professionalism. It's Derek Jacobi's (Cadfael-a must view) 1st directing and Kenneth Branagh's (Henry V, Hamlet) first Hamlet acting, although he went on to win awards with his Directing/Lead/Writer of a DVD version of Hamlet-1996. What better teachers of Shakespeare? Try "Playing Shakespeare" on DVD for one.

This is a must for serious acting students. Footage is gleaned from 30+ hrs of footage made during the 4 weeks of prep for Hamlet. From the raw 1st read, through rehearsals & tech rehearsals, up to opening night prep; it's an in-depth behind-the-curtain look at theater never seen by most patrons. It's honest, it's with preparatory flaws, but yet it's 'grease-paint' excitement. Illuminating educational theater. A lesson, 1st time on DVD, for acting want-to-be's (or not to-be's). Sorry! :-)

There are other stars like Sophie (Emma's sis)Thompson. Narration is provided by Patrick Stewart. Performed in Birmingham, this pre-show footage gives a lot of tips and fun looks at building up to perfection in theater. Even a sword fight. All in 53 minutes. If that's not enough, there is huge elaboration on this with the first-time-seen 3+ hours of bonus. Subtitles included for the feature.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By azindn on January 13, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Nothing is so interesting as the actual process of creation leading to a final product, in this instance, the performance of Hamlet. With Discovering Hamlet, a documentary featuring a production staged at the Birmingham Rep Theatre Company and directed by the fine stage and film actor, Derek Jacobi, the performance highlights young Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet. Knowing that Branagh too would stage is own stunning full-length production of Hamlet on film, observing how the actor matured from this early performance is a unique opportunity for comparison with his latter work also with Jacobi in the role of Claudius.
Following Jacobi as he shapes actor's performances and staging for the play, this video is privy to insight from technical staff as well. Narrated by Patrick Stewart and featuring actors who graced stage and films familiar to audiences, the construction of Shakespeare's tragedy is worthy of several viewings. While Jacobi differs from the more traditional interpretation of Hamlet's "To Be or Not to Be" soliloquy as a speech between Hamlet and Ophelia, the complex staging is Jacobi's own and unfortunately not alotted more time. Although brief in length, the production is filmed from first rehersal to opening night jitters. A new documentry could be titled "Critiquing Branagh" whose performances are faulted today, but in this setting, the actor is still fresh and vunerable to his director's insights to the lead actor's faults.
An excellent opportunity for students of film and performance studies to see process, it is worth purchase if only to have a record of one of Branagh's early stage performances before he became a film star. It would be interesting to haveJacobi's production restaged based on this film for another perspective on the never dull Shakespearean masterpiece of The Tragedy of Hamlet.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Davis on May 19, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This documentary is a great overview not only of 'Hamlet', but the dedication and commitment it takes to 'put on a show'. This production, performed in Birmingham, England and directed by Derek Jacobi, showcases a young Kenneth Branagh in his first professional attempt at the role. From the first rehearsals, to fight scenes, to interviews with all involved, to the director's notes (a good scene where Branagh is picked on a little by Jacobi), to the eventual performance, this is an excellent primer for what it takes to do this complex play live. Worth watching.
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