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Hamlet at Elsinore

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Hamlet at Elsinore

Christopher Plummer is joined by an all-star cast including Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, Donald Sutherland and Roy Kinnear in this historic production of Hamlet filmed on location at Elsinore, Denmark, the actual location where the play is set. Fresh off his smash hit performance in Rogers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, Christopher Plummer was nominated for an Emmy Award for his standout performance as the tragic Danish prince in Hamlet at Elsinore, the only production of Shakespeare's masterpiece ever filmed at Elsinore. This truly unique and thrilling production has not been seen in North America since its original premiere in 1966 on NET, the precursor to PBS, and is a must own for fans of the Bard.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Christopher Plummer, Robert Shaw, Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 166 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005COLEOA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,633 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 65 people found the following review helpful By DEWEY M. VINE VOICE on October 30, 2011
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I knew if any actor could make me finally appreciate William Shakespeare's "Hamlet", it is Christopher Plummer. I was right! I won't go into the play itself, or whether Shakespeare is the greatest playwright of all time; or whether Hamlet is the greatest male role of all time, and all that. Simply put, Plummer is completely mesmerizing as Hamlet. I couldn't take my eyes off charismatic Christopher for a second. If Plummer's Hamlet isn't definitive, (the "Best Hamlet" is a topic for endless debate), his interpretation definitely deserves to stand alongside Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton. But, I almost expected Plummer would knock my socks off. The real surprise here is Robert Shaw as King Claudius. Shaw easily matches Plummer in the charisma department. Shaw's Claudius is formidable, forceful, sexual and dangerous. Different productions place the emphasis on different character relationships. A production could place all the emphasis on Hamlet himself; or Hamlet and Ophelia, perhaps. Many productions place an obvious emphasis on the relationship between Hamlet and his mother, Queen Gertrude. Dramatically speaking, this production is an intriguing battle of wills between Hamlet and his uncle-stepfather Claudius.
Director Philip Saville's production was considered "radical" in many aspects. It was filmed at Elsinore Castle, where the play takes place. Many scenes were filmed outdoors. A lot of the play is set at night; directly against the crashing waves of the sea. The black and white photography is, of course, well-suited to the dark story. The supporting cast is excellent. Michael Caine, two years away from his breakout role in "Alfie", is an especially devoted Horatio. Dyson Lovell is a youthful, fresh-faced Laertes.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Charles Griffin on December 11, 2011
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Okay, maybe not "ever"...I haven't seen them all, for goodness sakes! But after viewing the manic interpretations by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant, I was pleased with Christopher Plummer. He's energetic, playful at times, melancholy when necessary and all quite naturally presented. His performance never feels forced and his Hamlet doesn't come off like a spoiled brat the way others have I've seen. His delivery of the Shakespearean dialog is never rushed and always eloquent. Finally, the emotions he brings to every scene is impressive right down to small moments (for example, the child-like way he looks upon his father's ghost). He's definitely the best Hamlet I've ever seen!

The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. It's fun to see Michael Caine in the role of Horatio, as it's the first time he's ever tackled Shakespeare on film. Not surprisingly, he gives the dialog a kind of naturalistic delivery. In other words, he's not delivering the lines poetically, but practically. It works quite well. His best scene is easily the finale, in which his Horatio breaks down emotionally. I don't think you'll find a more powerful Horatio than this one.

Robert Shaw was a huge surprise as Claudius. I knew he was a fine actor, but his prose is wonderfully delivered. Add to that his dynamic screen presence and you've got a truly magnificent Claudius. I mean, this is a role famously played by Derek Jacobi, Alan Bates and Patrick Stewart among many others. Yet Shaw may have surpassed them all (although I do love Jacobi's take).

I don't know much about June Tobin or Jo Maxwell Muller, but their performances as Gertrude and Ophelia respectively are quite perfect as well. Both are incredibly sympathetic and touching at times.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By plummerfan on February 5, 2012
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I have waited over 40years to see this production and it didn't dissapoint. Christopher Plummer is mesmarising in the lead role, and Robert Shaw as Claudius is masterfull. This should be looked at by acting students or any students studying Shakespeare. His to be or not to be is filmed wonderfully and he speaks the words as if they have just come into his head. Plummer is so handsome here its no wonder he was chosen for Sound of Music, not that he needed his great acting skills for that, but it brought him to the attention of the world. The ladies in the cast dissapoint but don't be put off, its a wonderfull film even in black and white
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Charles Weinstein on January 30, 2012
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Christopher Plummer's Hamlet is so fine that it redeems a bad film and goes a long way towards redeeming Plummer's career. Here is a man whose gifts might have placed him among the great classical actors, but it was not to be. The fault, dear Brutus, lay in his wayward commitment, a matinee-idol fecklessness that all-too-often opted for the easy or thoughtless way out. His Iago (1982) was a palimpsest of clashing interpretations; his ashen Macbeth (1988) died before the play began; and his Lear's (2004) admonition that nothing can come from nothing was self-referential. But his Cyrano (1973) was marvelous: romantic and contemporary, eloquent and neurotic, febrile and edgy yet flamboyant, it synthesized centuries of acting styles in a manner reminiscent of Olivier. I am happy to add Hamlet to the list of his achievements.

Plummer gives us the complete Prince where others have given us parcels. He has looks, presence, breeding, charm, athleticism, wit and consummate grace. He also has a touch of the feminine (which works well for Hamlet), yet is incontestably virile. This is important: one mustn't feel that Hamlet's fitful misogyny springs from congenital attraction to his own sex. There is no doubt that Plummer could have happily married Ophelia in a better world than Denmark. Nor is there any doubt of his capacity for martial exploits if his mind could deem them authentic. "Hamlet does not think too much but too well," and Plummer has the capacity (lacking in Gibson, Branagh and Hawke) to convey a subtle and probing mind. Michael Pennington (1980) was more intellectual, Derek Jacobi quirkier in his line-readings, but neither combined thought and surprise with sexual incandescence as Plummer does.
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