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Two of Britain’s greatest actors stage Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy
A behind-the-scenes look at Shakespearean theatre
In 1988, rising star Kenneth Branagh tackled the role of Shakespeare’s prince of Denmark for the first time in his professional career under the guidance of celebrated actor Derek Jacobi, considered "the best Hamlet of his generation" (The New York Times). Narrated by Patrick Stewart, this hour-long film documents how these two intelligent, passionate men found new depths in Shakespeare’s classic drama.
Filmmakers Mark Olshaker and Larry Klein follow the company through four weeks of rehearsals, from the first read-throughs to opening night. Interviews with principal actors--as well as the set designer, costume supervisor, text advisor, and others--reveal how each member of the company meets the production’s challenges. In all, Discovering Hamlet offers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the process of staging Shakespeare’s most demanding tragedy.
An Emmy®-winning star of stage and screen, Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius) has played some of the Bard’s most challenging parts in his 50-year career, including Hamlet, Prospero, Macbeth, and Lear.
Four-time Oscar® nominee Kenneth Branagh is a versatile actor, director, and writer famed for bringing Shakespeare to the silver screen in Hamlet, Henry V, and other films.
Bonus disc with behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, and extended production interviews with Jacobi (162 min.)
12-page viewer’s guide with an introduction by director Mark Olshaker, a history of the Renaissance Theatre Company, critical reactions to the production, and an article on Hamlet’s textual challenges
Hamlets Through the Ages profiles
Patrick Stewart biography
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Then Hamlet came along, a landmark in bringing the Bard to the big screen.
Yet this wasn't Branagh's first brush with the melancholy Great Dane.
In 1988, Branagh's theatre company, The Renaissance, had hired Derek Jacobi (dubbed "the best Hamlet of his generation" by The New York Times), to make his directorial debut with this timeless classic in which Branagh starred. We are lucky enough that filmmakers Mark Olshaker and Larry Klein were there from the first reading to the rehearsals to opening night, lucky that Patrick Stewart agreed to narrate and luckier still to have Acorn Media Group's Athena finally release Discovering Hamlet on DVD . . . with enough bonuses to bring a smile to the unhappy Prince's face.
There are lengthy cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and wonderful interviews with Jacobi, at once elfin, informative and fascinating as he discusses the trials and tribulations of live performances. Including a twelve page viewer's guide and a history of Hamlets through the ages, this two-disc treasure illustrates the path taken as the torch is passed from generation to generation of brilliant actors playing arguably the greatest part in the English language. From Bard-O-Philes to gross amateurs, Discovering Hamlet belongs on everyone's shelf of great DVDs about great theatre.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This dvd would NOT load...tried several times in different dvd's and no luck.Published 4 months ago by Char
Loved to see what goes into directing Shakespearean classics.A lot of hard work,tension,even if this seemed like a well put together cast.Published 22 months ago by Ellen
I watched this presentation because I watched most of the previous Hamlet presentations and was intrigued to find what I could possibly have missed or should have been looking for. Read morePublished on January 28, 2012 by Bernie
As seen on PBS, Discovering Hamlet is a documentary following two great actors, Emmy-winner Derek Jacobi and four-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh, as they test the depths of... Read morePublished on January 14, 2011 by Midwest Book Review
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