- Includes Unseen Interview Footage
Richard Burton's Hamlet
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(Aug 17, 1999)
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Richard Burton stars and Sir John Gielgud directs William Shakespeare's play of the Danish Prince. This is a "Hamlet" acted in rehearsal clothes, stripped of all extraneous trappings, so the beauty of the language and imagery could shine through. Filmed during an actual Broadway performance, to be shown in movie theaters for two days only, the prints were contractually ordered destroyed, but Burton sent one to the British Film Institute, and kept one print at home, located by his widow Sally in 1988; here then is the complete Burton "Hamlet" in all its vocal power and glory.
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Perhaps I will tell them about it, now that I think of it. :-)
Criticize Shakespeare's play. Ha!
Criticize the direction of Shakespeare by one of the great Shakespearean actor of the Age. Ha! Ha!
Criticize the performance by some of the leading British, Canadian and American actors of our time. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Criticize the technical details. Well, yes, there is that; but, this is all we have and we can never improve upon what these actors did, on this stage, on a day in the mid-60's.
In sum, if you want to watch the only evidence we have of what these performers did on this day, in this theater, as completely filmed, you will have to watch this DVD....without subtitles.
Unless you are an absolutely complete nut about seeing every production of Hamlet available in any form whatsoever, and have plenty of money to spare in these parlous economic times, don't pay any of the prices listed by Amazon, as of this date. A few years ago, I see from the Amazon record of my transactions, I paid about $12 for a purchase directly from Amazon. To the average viewer it is not worth what is being asked today. Try your public library, used DVD sources, your friends and neighbors, whatever.....
Oh, yes, I assume that you know every single word of every speech. For those of us who are less cultivated, the need to rely entirely on speech by actors speaking for stage effect, is rather irritating. Of course, one knows what is going on at all times but it would be nice to be able to understand the precise words into which Burton and Company are projecting their very best efforts.
Burton growls, whimpers, plays with his voice the way a musician plays with an instrument while tuning it. Yet the end result is.... well, not to be hyperbolic, etherial and marvelous.
A dream cast is present which includes Hume Cronyn , Alfred Drake (of musical fame),John Cullum (Northern Exposure), and an offstage appearance by John Gielgud, just to name a few.
Burton had become noted for having won the heart of Elizabeth Taylor . This performance shows how brilliant he was, an accomplished actor in his own right and not a Mr Elizabeth Taylor.
I am not going to debate which of the DVD versions of Hamlet is the best, I find that a difficult if not impossible decision to make. However I am saying this is a version worth watching, and hopefully there will be none gainsaying me on that opinion.
Most recent customer reviews
Hot Toasty Rag, July 21, 2017
I’m notorious for my dislike of Shakespeare.Read more