Hamlet

Hamlet

5.0 1
Director: Eric Simonson

Cast: Blair Brown, Jamey Sheridan

     
 

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Campbell Scott is both star and co-director of this elaborate (albeit economically produced) four-hour TV version of Shakespeare's immortal tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The film is based on Scott's earlier theatrical production of the same play, with several of the same actors repeating their same roles. Updated to 1900 New York, the text remainsSee more details below

Overview

Campbell Scott is both star and co-director of this elaborate (albeit economically produced) four-hour TV version of Shakespeare's immortal tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The film is based on Scott's earlier theatrical production of the same play, with several of the same actors repeating their same roles. Updated to 1900 New York, the text remains substantially the same as it has always been: Hamlet (Scott), the "melancholy" Danish prince, discovers to his horror that his late father, the King, was murdered by his brother (and Hamlet's uncle) Claudius (Jamey Sheridan), who upon ascending to the throne, added insult to injury by wedding Hamlet's mother, Gertrude (Blair Brown). Though his desire for revenge is strong, Hamlet does not want any more bloodshed, and concocts an elaborate scheme to "catch the conscience" of Claudius and force him into a confession. Part of this scheme involves Hamlet's feigned descent into madness -- which, as interpreted by Scott, may not be as "feigned" as he thinks it is. Caught in the middle of this intrigue is Hamlet's lady love, Ophelia (Lisa Gay Hamilton), daughter of Claudius' chief consul, Polonius (played in the manner of a protocol-conscious Victorian diplomat by Roscoe Lee Browne). Some of the choices made by Scott in adapting Hamlet to the screen -- the turn-of-the-century setting; the utilization of black actors in the roles of Polonius, Ophelia, and Laertes (who is played by Roger Guenveur Smith); the casting of Byron Jennings to play both the Ghost of Hamlet's father and the Player King, who pretends to be the father -- were applauded by the critics. Other innovations, notably the use of slow jazz music throughout the action, and Hamlet's violent treatment of poor Ophelia during the "Get thee to a nunnery" scene, were not so enthusiastically received. Whatever the case, Scott does a remarkable job with a tiny budget and a slim 29-day shooting schedule. In addition to the actors' lilting interpretation of the Shakespearean dialogue and soliloquies, the film boasts a truly exciting climactic duel, shot in long takes without the use of stunt doubles. Initially produced for a theatrical release, this Hamlet made its American debut as a cable TV miniseries on the Odyssey Channel, beginning December 10, 2000.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
Daring innovations mark this 2001 production of Shakespeare's Hamlet, set in the U.S. South in the early 1900s. For example, Polonius (Roscoe Lee Browne) and his children, Ophelia (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and Laertes (Roger Guenveur Smith), are black; Rosencrantz (Michael Imperioli) and Guildenstern (Marcus Giamatti) are Mafia-style hit men; and the weather is always fair. But the biggest surprise of all is that the innovations succeed wonderfully without distorting the plot. To be sure, Shakespeare purists may balk at the extent of the changes, one of which has Ophelia ranting on a dinner table and another of which has Hamlet reciting "To be or not to be" while supine on the floor. But there can be no gainsaying that there is method in the madness of directors Campbell Scott, who also plays Hamlet brilliantly, and Eric Simonson. Their goal is to make Shakespeare highly relevant to modern audiences. Thus, the skin color of Polonius and his family introduces racial prejudice as a possible explanation for Polonius' subservience to Claudius, for Hamlet's rejection of Ophelia, and for Laertes' fierce hatred of Hamlet. In addition, the acting style -- in which the players recite their lines distinctly in ordinary conversational tones -- makes them seem like real people. In portraying King Claudius, Jamey Sheridan is particularly adept at this recitation style. Never does he overstate his lines or overplay his role. Blair Brown also performs with distinction as Queen Gertrude, making it easy to believe that a woman could remarry while her late husband is still warm in the grave. This production deserves a place on the all-time list of best Shakespeare productions.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/18/2001
UPC:
0707729114765
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
NR
Source:
HALLMARK

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Campbell Scott Hamlet
Blair Brown Gertrude
Jamey Sheridan Claudius
Roscoe Lee Browne Polonius
Lisa Gay Hamilton Ophelia
Roger Guenveur Smith Laertes
Sam Robards Fortinbras
John Benjamin Hickey Horatio
Michael Imperioli Rosencrantz
Marcus Giamatti Guildenstern
Maureen Anderman Actor
Jim Gaffigan Actor
Earl Hindman Actor
Christina Kirk Actor
J.C. MacKenzie Actor
Madison Arnold Actor
Caroline Kava Actor
Marin Hinkle Actor
Seth Barrish Actor
Tina Benko Actor
Leon Addison Brown Third Player (Lucianus)
Matt Malloy Captain
Guy Davis Actor
Dan Moran Gravedigger
Gary De Michele Pianist
Byron Jennings Player King,The Ghost
Denis O'Hare Osric
Bill Buell Bernardo
Joan Campion Marcellus
Lewis Arlt Voltemand
Peter McRobbie Priest
Eric Simonson 2nd Gravedigger

Technical Credits
Campbell Scott Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Eric Simonson Director,Screenwriter
Mary Francis Budig Producer
Gary De Michele Score Composer
Jonathan Filley Producer
Dan Gillham Cinematographer
Robert Halmi Executive Producer
Andy Keir Editor
Margo Myers Producer
David Schlesinger Set Decoration/Design
Chris Shriver Production Designer

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