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Hamlet [VHS]

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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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: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0800105877
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,584 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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: DVD
Hamlet (1969)

Nicol Williamson - Hamlet
Anthony Hopkins - Claudius
Judy Parfitt - Gertrude
Marianne Faithfull - Ophelia
Mark Dignam - Polonius
Michael Pennington - Laertes

Adapted and directed by Tony Richardson.

Colour. 117 min.

This is a very curious movie in almost every aspect. It is unlike any other screen adaptation of "Hamlet" I have ever seen. Even the end credits are unusual: they are spoken, not written. There is no reason why originality should go hand in hand with wisdom and depth, but I think this is the case here.

To begin with, Tony Richardson's direction is highly unorthodox, to say the least. Most of the movie, including the group scenes, consists of (near) close-ups. This can be disconcerting to some viewers and it has given rise to the derisive phrase ''soap opera style''. But there is nothing wrong with the method if it is combined with great acting where, needless to say, facial expressions of the greatest importance. You may be sure that you will get lots of such acting here.

The production is a bizarre mixture of sumptuous costumes (apparently Elizabethan) and sparse sets; thanks to the direction the latter are almost never shown. Weird touches abound. For instance, the Ghost ''appears'' as nothing else but strong white light and a voice that sounds like computer-generated. Otherwise the lighting is scanty but often imaginative and effective. In the rare instances when something of the sets is actually seen, as in the case of the brick wall during the first two meetings with the Ghost that all but anticipates Pink Floyd's a decade later, the effect is striking. On the whole, it is a minimalist and claustrophobic production, but ingeniously realized as to enhance the drama.
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Format: DVD
Nichol Williamson is brilliant in this movie. It's not as popular as the Mel Gibson or Kenneth Branagh versions, at least here in America, but that should hardly keep you away from it. The only thing that might put off first time viewers is that it's obviously an adaptation from a stage production, so, for example, you don't get to see the ghost (I don't want to see some Hollywood idiot dressed up in some ridiculous costume and CGI'd up). But what a cast! Anthony Hopkins, Marianne Faithful, et al...Shakespeare done the way it should be. I hope you'll be patient with it and really sit down and appreciate this version. Very much worth every minute of it.
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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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