Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Hamlet (1990) (DVD)
Mel Gibson leads an all-star cast in William Shakespeare's greatest tragedy, the story of Danish prince Hamlet. Hamlet (Academy Award winner Gibson--Braveheart, Lethal Weapon films) returns home to learn that his father, the King, has recently died and his mother, Gertrude (Glenn Close--The Stepford Wives, Fatal Attraction), has already married his uncle, Claudius (Alan Bates--Gosford Park). Suffering from shock and grief, the young prince is visited by the ghost of his father (Paul Scofield--Quiz Show), who claims that he was murdered by Claudius and who demands vengeance. Now, Hamlet must decide whether this tale told by an apparition is true--and whether he should exact the vengeance his father demands . . . realizing that his actions may destroy the woman he loves, Ophelia (Helena Bonham Carter--Corpse Bride, Howards End), his family and the kingdom he is due to inherit.]]>
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
Zeferelli takes great liberties with the play, omitting vast swaths of dialogue, several scenes, and the character of Fortinbras altogether. He also rearranges the order of several critical scenes, and makes mighty interpretive leaps such as having Hamlet overhear Polonius's instructions to Ophelia that she must not have any further contact with the prince--an understanding that of course colors our view of Hamlet's actions toward Ophelia for the rest of the play. Knowing that Hamlet KNOWS the poor girl is in a hopeless position, acting under her father's direct orders, makes his treatment of her seem wantonly cruel as the play moves forward, rather than justifiable as a manifestation of his paranoia. One failure of this interpretation is that Zeferelli doesn't do much with that knowledge--Hamlet's having overheard Polonius--once having established it. He seems to go on courting our sympathy for the character as if he'd done nothing to lessen it.
On the other hand, the director does deliver a film just over two hours long--compared to Kenneth Branagh's four-hour-plus rendition--that is well-acted, properly atmospheric, successful at differentiating critical passages and performances from those which are meant merely to flesh out the plot, and relaxed enough en route that the necessarily intense scenes stand out as they should. (Branagh's version, while great in its own way, is acted by every character in every scene as if he or she were the MAIN character, and the scene itself the very climax of the play--a greater gathering of famous hams, each determined to make the most of his moment in the sun, has rarely graced the silver screen, if ever. Every one of the performances is marvelous--but taken as a whole, the play is exhausting.)
My students tend to prefer Zeferelli's film over Branagh's--but add the reservation that if they hadn't already known the play, they probably wouldn't have understood this one as a stand-alone drama. Some of the aforementioned liberties with the play leave holes in the plot--the viewer familiar with the play is kind enough to fill them in, but Branagh's version doesn't require such helpfulness.
Below, I have listed most of the changes (as well as some other staging comments). [What follows assumes a considerable understanding of the text of Shakespeare's Hamlet.]
Act 1, Scene 1 is excluded.
- Film begins with Hamlet's father being laid to rest in the crypt, with Gertrude crying over King Hamlet's body.
Act 1, Scene 2 is considerably condensed.
Act 1, Scene 3 is slightly condensed.
- In the conversation between Polonius and Laertes, Polonius speaks only the most a few of the most famous lines such as "to thine own self be true."
- When Polonius tells Ophelia not to speak with Hamlet, Hamlet overhears the conversation.
Act 1, Scene 4 is slightly condensed.
Act 1, Scene 5 is slightly condensed.
- Hamlet actually appears somewhat afraid of his father's ghost.
- Hamlet speaks with his father's ghost on the battlements of the castle.
- Hamlet only insists that Horatio and Marcellus swear on his sword 1 time.
Act 2, Scene 1 is excluded.
Act 2, Scene 2 begins around line 80 and is slightly condensed.
- When Polonius talks with Hamlet, Hamlet, in his madness, has one shoe on and one shoe off.
After Act 2, Scene 2 line 215, adaptation shifts to Act 3, Scene 1, which is slightly condensed.
- Hamlet, when he meets with Ophelia in the lobby, spies the shadows of someone. Hamlet assumes that he is being spied upon and begins speaking louder to insure that those spying on him hear him.
- Hamlet grabs Ophelia's face rather violently when he accuses her of using cosmetics.
- Hamlet speaks his "to be or not to be" speech alone in the crypt near his father's coffin after his meeting with Ophelia. [In other words, Ophelia, Claudius, and Polonius do not hear Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech.]
Act 2, Scene 2, after line 215 is slightly condensed until line 305, at which point the scene is greatly condensed.
- Hamlet behaves violently toward R & G when R & G remain silent after Hamlet asks them whether the King or Queen sent for them.
- Hamlet does not learn the players have been displaced by a younger troop.
- The players do not present speech to Hamlet at lines 448 to 498.
- Hamlet's "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I" speech is considerably condensed.
Act 3, Scene 2 is considerably condensed.
- Hamlet does not tell the players not to overact.
- Male actors play the female roles.
- Many of the less important lines of dialogue are cut from the play within the play.
- Claudius is very distraught and disoriented after he witnesses the poisoning in the play within the play.
- Hamlet forces the flute up against [G's] neck when he accuses R & G or trying to play him like a flute.
- Lines 342 and after are eliminated (i.e. Polonius does not appear telling Hamlet to see his mother).
Act 3, Scene 3 is considerably condensed.
- First 70 lines are excluded.
- Most of Claudius' lines as he prays are excluded.
Act 3, Scene 4 is slightly condensed.
- Hamlet appears unhappy that he has murdered Polonius, mistaking him for Claudius.
- Even though Hamlet stabs Polonius, Polonius does not bleed much.
- Hamlet behaves rather violently towards his mother, in this scene.
Act 4, Scene 1 is considerably condensed.
Act 4, Scene 2 is eliminated.
Act 4, Scene 3 is slightly condensed.
Act 4, Scene 4 is eliminated.
- That is, Hamlet does not meet Fortinbras or his soldiers because they are not part of this adaptation.
Act 4, Scene 5 is slightly condensed.
- Once Hamlet has left for England, Ophelia begins to go mad. [As in the Folio text, it is difficult to know whether Ophelia's madness is the result of her father's murder or Hamlet's rejection of her love.]
* However, a scene is added that shows Hamlet replacing R&G' letters with 2 of his own. Then, the film shifts to a short scene in which R&G get their heads chopped off.
- Laertes angry return is left largely intact, although Laertes does not appear to have a mob of angry citizens behind him.
Act 4, Scene 6 is excluded.
Act 4, Scene 7 is moved until after Act 5, Scene 1.
- The only scene that is included before this point is Gertrude's telling Claudius and Laertes that Ophelia has drowned.
Act 5, Scene 1 is slightly condensed.
- Lines are excluded in which gravediggers say that if Laertes did not have friends in high places, she would not have received a Christian burial.
- Lines are excluded in which gravediggers talk about how a gravedigger's house lasts until doomsday.
Act 4, Scene 7 is considerably condensed.
- Claudius and Laertes' plot against Hamlet is shown after Ophelia's burial because at Ophelia's burial is the first time Claudius learns that Hamlet was not murdered in England. [In other words, Act 4, Scene 6 is excluded - no evidence that Hamlet was captured by pirates.]
Act 5, Scene 2 is considerably condensed especially before line 162. After line 162, the scene is only slightly condensed.
- Osric's speech is very short and to the point.
- Before the dueling match, Claudius openly drops a pearl-shaped pill into the wine glass. [Why? I do not know. It seems to defeat the purpose of a secret murder.]
- Laertes only switches to the poisoned sword after Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine.
- Horatio does not offer to kill himself by drinking some of the poisoned wine.
* Film ends with an aerial shot of Hamlet dead on the ground and Horatio lying over Hamlet's body while the crowd looks on stunned at the events that occurred. [Note: We never know who gains the crowd of Denmark since Fortinbras is not a part of the film.]