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Hamlet [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Nicol Williamson, Judy Parfitt, Anthony Hopkins, Marianne Faithfull, Mark Dignam
  • Directors: Tony Richardson
  • Writers: Tony Richardson, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Hans Gottschalk, Leslie Linder, Martin Ransohoff, Neil Hartley
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • VHS Release Date: June 23, 1994
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0800105877
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,168 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

VHS FORMAT. 1988, Columbia Pictures, 114 minutes, color. Directed by Tony Richardson. Nicol Williamson (whose Hamlet has been called the finest ever) is backed by an impressive cast that includes Anthony Hopkins and Marianne Faithfull as Ophelia. This film was originally released in 1964.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By C. Moran on December 7, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Tony Richardson's production of Hamlet is perhaps too subtle for those used to more ostentatious renderings of the play, but do not let that discourage you from enjoying the depth and clarity of this fine stage/film version, which reads very well on the television screen.

Celebrated Nicol Williamson plays an infinitely human and palpable Hamlet. There is no bombast nor bloat to the intelligent tone and pithy rhythm of his soliloquies. Williamson is one of a handful of actors who can phrase the complex *long bow* of Shakespeare's verse into the meaningful and memorable images that the author so ardently aimed. With Williamson (as with Branaugh 25+ years later), this Hamlet's increasingly cynical dispair fuels his rage -- not the simpering *moral confusion* of more formalized drama school portrayals.

Gordon Jackson, best known to American film buffs as THE GREAT ESCAPE's MacDonald (*Intelligence*), plays a wonderfully intimate and faithful Horatio -- indeed, here IS a true friend!

Marianne Faithful is in her element as Ophelia. And one can only wonder how Anthony Hopkins would play Claudius today? He seems to overdraw his character in this 1969 stage to film version - but then again, why wouldn't a King who breakfasted on baked fowl in bed have an overdrawn character? To save himself from tenderizing fair Rosencrantz and good Guildenstern for their fouled English mission?

Let others scoff at the humanity and subtlety of this performance. This lovely version [used to be] shown frequently on the BRAVO channel (when it was known *The Actor's Channel*) for good reason. The old VHS video is of terrible quality. The BRAVO channel version was the same as the current PAL-DVD release. One can only hope for an NTSC-DVD release but none looks in sight.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This video is an adaptation of the stage production that was produced in London's Roundhouse (a former train roundhouse converted into a theatre). The film makes use of the entire theatre, not just the stage. It makes for a very claustrophobic, but effective setting.
I have mixed feelings about this film. I am glad someone tried something different with Hamlet. I was glad to see a 30 year old Hamlet for a change. Hamlet is not the young undergrad college student we always picture him to be, but a 30 year old grad student. Shakespeare's play tells us that Yorick's skull has been in the ground for 24 years and Hamlet tells us how he knew Yorick as a childhood friend. Nicol Williamson (while not the common image of Hamlet)was a 30 year old actor playing a 30 year old character.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rorrorro on January 10, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Reading the lines above : No matter of how easy may be to scorn gifted genius, folks, you should first think and then act before trying to trench infamously this delightful dainty in a couple of poorly woven sentences, for this is one of the best Hamlets EVER seen and heared. Williamson's Hamlet crashes Branagh's right and left and overshadows the rest of the ensemble -but Hopkins'-. Yes, he looks like 50, though he was just 30, and so what?. So did also Orson Welles when he played the Claudius with Micheál MacLíammoír in the Hamlet role though this last one was over ten years his senior...Williamson could be for my sake 120, then his contribution to the character (edgy, defiant, sour, superb!) is probably the best one. And even if the backdrops were kind of unsofisticated and the whole production sparse -Richardson was lacking of the buck, hence the humble get-up- its darkness rather enhances the characters on stage, getting more eye-catching and preventing the spectator from any superfluous item that would disturb his attention. It's beautiful the way characters emerge from and slink and into the darkness. Williamson doesn't fall in the trap of giving the audience what they expect, nor needs to dye his hair or hide behind a million dollar scenery for a self complacent showing off, then what he's offering the respectable is a raw and intensely truculent Hamlet full of sarcasm and dangerously strong emotions, provided you can take them...

Yes, folks, this guy is unreachable, the KILIMANJARO of all Hamlets, if not the Everest. Not to be missed in anything -check the Merlin in Boorman's "Excalibur" or as the coke-snoring Sherlock Holmes in "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution"-. And where is he hiding now?. Is he still playing theater in London or elsewhere?.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By HisArtisticDaughter58 on May 19, 2009
Format: VHS Tape
I'm amazed and thrilled that this version still exists!!! I saw this years ago and was blown away!!! Nicol Williamson is truly one of the most original and incredible actors ever. SO underrated and so talented!! Everything I've seen him in (not enough, unfortunately) has been an experience that becomes almost physical!! SEE this version, everyone who loves MAGNIFICENT acting and "Hamlet" itself. Not for the (dramatic) faint of heart. Those who love PASSIONATE acting will LOVE Nicol Williamson and HIS "Hamlet."
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By blockhed on January 15, 2006
Format: DVD
Nicol Williamson is a very fine actor, who does not seem to have realised his full potential. Nevertheless, all his performances deserve attention, as he is able to bring charisma and intelligence to anything he undertakes. All interpretations of Shakespeare's major works also deserve concentration and serious notice, since they are central to the Western canon of drama and literature, and Hamlet, especially, is the most remarkable of all his plays. It is not really sensible to enact the full script unaltered and uncut, and it seems doubtful whether it was ever produced on the Elizabethan stage in this manner, without trimming. What is essential, however, is that nothing but the words should drive the action, which is why Ethan Hawke's Hamlet and McKellen's Richard III are such relative disasters. At the same time, the director must have a unity of vision, and his take on the text must be coherent and consistent. Neither Richardson nor Williamson quite achieve this. The production suffers from ups and downs, and the various parts of the text that have been retained do not seem to integrate fully with each other. Richardson also appears to have been negatively influenced by Olivier's film, and sometimes seems to be going out of his way to avoid repetition of Olivier's reading. This is not a constructive approach, and one is left with a sense of dissatisfaction. There are other small gripes: why are the parts of the grave-digger and the player king both performed by Roger Livesey? This is extremely disconcerting. Marianne Faithfull was good, if not convincingly virginal.
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