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Hamlet [VHS] (1969)

Nicol Williamson , Judy Parfitt , Tony Richardson  |  G |  VHS Tape
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 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: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0800105877
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,077 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
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRAVO! An Actor's Hamlet! 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
3.0 out of 5 stars A Different Hamlet March 8, 2004
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Williamson 10 - Branagh 0 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
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST Hamlet EVER!!! 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven January 15, 2006
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Different Hamlet!'
Nicol Williamson's performance is like nothing else - more conversational than the traditional 'Shakespearean presentation. A stunning rendition, on par with Tennant's.
Published 13 months ago by William Bleuel
5.0 out of 5 stars Every one speaks clearly without spitting or yelling
This is a well paced Hamlet. Filmed in The Round House, Camden, London, England, UK. Is minimalist and depends on acting to carry the play. Read more
Published 18 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly original and unjustly neglected adaptation
Hamlet (1969)

Nicol Williamson - Hamlet
Anthony Hopkins - Claudius
Judy Parfitt - Gertrude
Marianne Faithfull - Ophelia
Mark Dignam - Polonius... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Alexander Arsov
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Hopkins performs well, and it is interesting to see the same quality in him as a young actor. Also outstanding is the actor playing Polonius. Read more
Published 19 months ago by petronmb
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST HAMLET EVER
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... Read more
Published 21 months ago by D. Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally this version became available
I had been waiting for years for Tony Richardson's 1969 production of Hamlet to become available on DVD. It was worth the wait. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dr. Dave
1.0 out of 5 stars PAL format dvd release: a review of the transfer
This is a review of the PAL Reg. 2 Import - United Kingdom dvd release.

This is a fraudulent product. The back of the case says "aspect ratio 1. Read more
Published on July 2, 2012 by John W. Roach
4.0 out of 5 stars Tame innuendo that remains unclear
A few things have been modified in the play, for example the concluding remarks by Fortinbras that have been dropped, or the fact that Osric is quite obviously a transvestite. Read more
Published on July 13, 2010 by Jacques COULARDEAU
4.0 out of 5 stars Williamson & Richardson's Minimalist HAMLET.
I remember seeing this movie when I was in college and being totally captivated by it. I had already seen the Olivier version as well as a modernist version with Maximilian Schell... Read more
Published on June 11, 2010 by Chip Kaufmann
4.0 out of 5 stars To Be (Released on DVD) Or Not to Be (Released in that Format)?
I remember watching this production on a grainy b&w television back in 1970. It didn't much register at the time. Read more
Published on May 29, 2010 by Gregor von Kallahann
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