HamletDirector: Michael Almereyda
William Shakespeare's classic tale is brought to the screen for the third time in ten years in this modernized interpretation. Writer/director Michael Almereyda updates the story to the present day, where Hamlet (Ethan Hawke) is a struggling filmmaker whose personal and familial trials are set against the machinations of a huge production firm called the Denmark Corporation. Joining Hamlet as he seeks revenge for the death of his father and the wedding of his mother to an enemy are Kyle MacLachlan as Claudius, Julia Stiles as Ophelia, Bill Murray as Polonius, Sam Shepard as the ghost of Hamlet's father, Diane Venora as Gertrude, Steve Zahn as Rosencrantz, and Dechen Thurman as Guildenstern.
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- Walt Disney Video
Cast & Crew
|Sam Shepard||The Ghost|
|Jason Blum||Executive Producer|
|Carter Burwell||Score Composer|
|Marco Cattoretti||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Jeanne Develle||Art Director|
|Joshua Drew||Set Decoration/Design|
|Jeffrey Everett||Set Decoration/Design|
|Marco Londoner||Asst. Director|
|Luca Mosca||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Gideon Ponte||Production Designer|
|Beth Amy Rosenblatt||Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Chip Signore||Asst. Director|
|John Sloss||Executive Producer|
|Noah Vivekanand Timan||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Noah Vivekanand||Sound/Sound Designer|
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Okay movie. Ethan Hawke was cute.
The 2000 adaptation of “Hamlet” is based on the classic written by William Shakespeare. It was written and directed by Michael Almereyda and is set in modern day New York. In this version of “Hamlet,” the marriage between his mother Gertrude (Diane Venora) and his uncle Claudius has Hamlet (Ethan Hawke) suspicious. A visit from his father’s ghost (Sam Shepard) confirms Hamlet’s suspicions that the death was not natural and that Claudius (Kyle MacLachlan) is to blame. Claudius becomes CEO of "Denmark Corporation", having taken over the firm by killing Hamlet’s father. Hamlet tries to get revenge on Claudius for killing his father, and Claudius knows Hamlet is a threat. Claudius even uses Ophelia (Julia Styles) the love of Hamlet, in his own plot against him. This adaptation keeps the Shakespearean dialogue while being in a modern setting. Out of five stars, “Hamlet” would qualify as a three based on the director, special effects, and plot. Michael Almereyda has directed a number of movies that never became a big “hit.” This raised a red flag for a number of people who also thought the movie had a 3 star rating. If the movie had been directed by someone of a larger status, the movie may have become more of a success. In other words, he is inexperienced for the task of creating a movie with such a classic storyline. The status of the director causes the ineffectiveness of special effects. The special effects in “Hamlet” were quite creative in part, but it takes away the true meaning of what Shakespeare had intended. The modern setting with Shakespearean dialogue did not seem to fit together. If Michael Almereyda modernized the play, the dialogue should have been in modern day English. The creativity of having Hamlet be a film student and him reciting his “to be or not to be” monologue in a movie store was fitting, but it didn’t have the effect of the play. The modern plot gives it a creative twist but it puts shame to Shakespeare’s original work. The Shakespearean dialogue kept the plot mostly the same, but since it took place in modern day New York, there were effects that slightly changed the plot. In the beginning of the play a ghost appears to the watchmen, but in the movie, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears on TV screens. The use of technology is a genius move by Michael Almereyda, but it doesn’t fit what Shakespeare had intended. “Hamlet” would receive three stars based on the director, special effects, and plot. Based on this review, the recommendations would be to not to even attempt to watch the movie. If the movie would have been directed by a more known producer it would have been more successful. Also, the modern Hamlet doesn't do Shakespeare’s original any justice.
Having a robust cast is very important for any movie.This movie failed at that. Hamlet was played by Ethan Hawke, who did a poor job because he didn’t play the role as well as he could have. Hamlet is depressed in the the play, but he still shows emotion when events happen. Hawke had one emotion the entire time. Crummy. Not once did it change. Another poor adaption of a character was Ophelia, played by Julia Stiles. Ophelia is the love interest of Hamlet, and vice versa. It honestly feels like there is no emotional contact coming from her end of the relationship. The only time it seems she has fervor for Hamlet is when she drowns. Without a superb cast, the entire plot of the movie can be affected. The plot of Hamlet is that Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has multiple woes. The ghost of his father haunts Elsinore; his uncle, Claudius, has married Queen Gertrude, his mother, and assumed the throne; Fortinbras of Norway threatens Denmark with an invading army. When Hamlet meets the ghost of his dead father, he reveals that Claudius poisoned him and he demands that Hamlet exact revenge. In this modern retelling of Hamlet, the characters use the same language as they did in the play. That caused much confusion because “Hamlet” is set in the year 2000. It is thought to be witty, but it is just unpleasant. Also, Fortinbras is missing. His name is voiced here and there, but other than that he is completely absent from the movie. Director Almereyda completely cuts scenes from the play out. Additionally, the settings become distracting. For example, Hamlet delivers the famous "To be or not to be" speech inside a Blockbuster Video store. The speech is extremely important in understanding exactly how Hamlet is responding to the visits of the ghost or his troubles with girlfriend Ophelia. It’s almost impossible to look around at this point in the movie. Having a weak plot also deteriorates the standards of having a terrific finale. Anticipating the ending of any movie is expected. Getting people on the edge of their seats is so enticing for directors that they often put the most work to this part of their production. However, the ending of this movie is quite dreadful. At the end of Hamlet, almost every character with a name has been offed in one gruesome way or another. Yes, the people who died in “Hamlet” died, but that’s just it. The most similar killing from the play to the movie is when Hamlet kills Polonius.The ending in “Hamlet” is completely obliterated. Hamlet is shot instead of being stabbed by a poisoned blade, Hamlet then shoots Laertes back and the blood spatter from that is quite unrealistic. Hamlet should be mortally wounded for he has been shot twice. However, he seems to be walking without any issues and shoots Claudius twice in the back. The ending completely lacks all things that should have and could have been. Instead of watching this version of Hamlet, you would find better luck watching ANY other version of the play. “Hamlet” could have been an ace movie with very satisfying work, but it was a flop. The cast could have been more experienced and could have worked harder on getting into their roles. The plot was very sluggish and drug out. The movie could have been much shorter than the 112 minutes of confusing word play and unsatisfactory acting. The ending needed much work. It did not follow anywhere near the original version. Common Sense Media’s rating on “Hamlet” is quite accurate and should be given a 1 out of 5 as well
The main reason people watch movies based on Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is that they have read the play itself. Within the play, Hamlet is expressed as an intelligent young man who pretends to be crazy in order to buy time in getting revenge on Claudius. The movie Hamlet simply appears very unhinged and mentally unhealthy. His actions and monologues seem more depressing than the melancholy man we meet within the play. The movie itself was missing quite a few scenes or changes them from the play that are influential to the overall story. Scenes such as the gravedigger’s banter while digging a grave or how Ophelia is once she takes a walk on the crazy side can significantly take away from what the story is truly supposed to be about. The one nice decision they did make is to keep all of the original dialogue which gave it a Shakespearian feel. Sadly, the dialogue sewn in with the plot didn’t seem to work out the way the production team probably expected it to. The plot for this movie was put forth as the modern rendition of the classic Hamlet that was meant to draw in both the younger and older generations. The plot was set up to be in modern New York City with Claudius being the head of Denmark Corporation rather than the King of Denmark he is in the play. It is basically put forward as a soap opera that could have been named “The Rich and Depressed.” The way it was expressed was pretty acceptable and would have worked fine if all the characters would not have acted as if they were a part of the 1600s. The movie would have been much like most Lifetime movies except the characters either came of as suicidal, depressed, or needy making it hard to connect with any of them. Horatio was probably the most normal and still he was a bit too dramatic. The plot has many flaws but the ending really drove the curious and confusing nature of this film home. For those who find this movie interesting so far or have never read Hamlet, prepare for the ending to be spoiled. In the play, the ending is set up that Laertes and Hamlet have a sword fight with Claudius on Laertes’s side. Claudius and Laertes plan to kill Hamlet one way or another including a poison covered sword or a poisoned drink. At first, the movie seemed poised to be the same way except they never include poison on the blade, and sword fighting turned into fencing. This confused me, as in the play, Hamlet dies by a cut from the poisoned blade. The fencing starts and it appears very anticlimactic with no true violence and Claudius continually trying to get Hamlet to drink the poisoned drink. Like the play, Gertrude sees through Claudius plot and steals the drink from Claudius’ hands to try saving Hamlet. Once the poison is out of the equation and before Gertrude starts dying, action suddenly takes place. Laertes pulls out his gun and shoots Hamlet, but then Hamlet grapples with him and shoots Laertes right back. As the two fall to the floor, moments from dying, Laertes finally does something nice and confesses to Hamlet that everything was Claudius’s fault and hands Hamlet the pistol. By the help of Horatio, Hamlet stands once again just too finally exact his revenge and kill Claudius. The ending definitely has a more modern feel and reminded my greatly of the 1996 version of “Romeo and Juliet,” with all the guns suddenly surrounded by language that never knew automatic weapons. The movie’s ending truly had a new way of looking at the original work and made for an odd experience.
The modern spin on the Shakespearean tragedy shows the creativity and finesse of the writers, but in their hype over their own wisdom, they forget to give the audience a believable and enjoyable story that makes sense of the jumbled mess of dialogue from the play itself. The director of this film, along with the editors and everyone else who makes a film into a film, seem to have neglected their jobs. The wording from the play did not mesh with the world the writers were throwing us into. While the long dialogues gave the audience the time to see how developed Hamlet is, we also are gifted with with the numerous airplanes, rockets, cars, people, and other random videos that snuck their way onto the screen, the audience is completely distracted from Hamlet’s monotonous lines and instead are trying to figure out what the heck is going on with the planes and what purpose they serve. None. The same could be said about the ending of the movie, the climax of the story, the battle between Hamlet and Laertes. The death of Hamlet culminates with him and Laertes grabbing each other and fighting over a gun. When the two become entangled, the gun fires, instantly spraying blood over both men and several spectators. How could this happen when they were so close together? Good question. Hamlet maybe wasn’t the best of Shakespeare’s plays to modernize. Sadly the casting of this film was its strongest area, which isn’t saying much. With big names such as, Bill Murray, Ethan Hawke, Julia Stiles, and Kyle MacLachlan audience members are drawn to overlook the numerous errors made in the creation of the film. The actors efforts to make the unnatural wording flow smoothly does not go unnoticed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well either. The sound and enunciation was lacking in their delivery of the script. Had audience members not been paying attention to the words close enough they would easily get lost in the plot and by the middle of the movie would be no closer to understanding what they are watching. Ms Stiles herself seemed to be playing the role of a 6 year old, rather than a grown woman in love. At one point she was being spoken to and she literally walked off. She had the attention span of a squirrel, one moment she’ll be upset about Hamlet, the next she’ll be balancing by a pool. It is plain to see where she gets her bad acting from, her “father” Bill Murray. While he is universally loved, he did not have a great performance as Polonius. His character was “thrown into the mix” with no explanation as to who he is. As for his acting he just gave off an aura of boredom, so much so that the other actors too were impacted. Ethan Hawke was apparently inspired by this raging sea of boredom, that he would attempt to top it, and top it he did, which leads us into our next issue. Ethan Hawke’s “madness” was more maddening than anything. After speaking a few lines to one character or another, Hamlet would retreat into his apartment and watch his recordings on repeat whilst complaining about life and what it meant. His persona hadn’t changed from his father’s appearance. Hamlet sulked about, recording himself before, and afterwards he continued to do so, but with more dialogue. His ludicrous actions were annoying and none of which would have anyone believe he was insane. The only thing that really could have helped this performance would be if he had spoken clearly when he was sulky instead of moping and mumbling. In the end Hamlet was Not To Be.
The special effects contributed to the low rating of “Hamlet” because of the lack of pizazz and realness. The interpretation of how a ghost is supposed to look in movies seemed to miss “Hamlet.” The degree of Hamlet’s father’s transparency depends on the scene he appears in. No consistency of transparency of King Hamlet in the movie makes the special effects more than flawed. Next, the movie seemed to use unrealistic blood scenes all over the place, especially when Claudius is shot in the back during the movie. Claudius attains blood on his hands instead of where he is shot by Hamlet. The ending scene seems to include the most unrealistic blood scenes, which this should be the most fitting scene. The ending of the movie “Hamlet” seemed to reveal the greatest imperfections of the whole movie. At the end of the movie, Hamlet and Laertes kill each other, Hamlet kills Claudius, and Gertrude drinks the poison in Hamlet’s goblet, but there is a main part of the ending missing. In the play Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote for Horatio to tell everyone that Hamlet wants Fortinbras as king. Next, Horatio tries to commit suicide in Hamlet, and Fortinbras allegedly shows up and hears the details of the murder scene. None of the following happens because the movie writers cut the scenes out. The ending is the most important detail, which means it should contain the MOST accurate. Also, the ending seemed to lack drama in it. Viewers expected to see Claudius yell “I am slain!” This didn’t happen. For a dramatic tragedy, it lacked drama, which leads to the connection of switching Shakespeare time to modern time. The movie “Hamlet” isn’t exactly based off of the play written by Shakespeare. The attempt to change Shakespeare into modern times seems to be a fantastic idea, but if the producers wanted to modernize it, the Shakespearian language would also need changing. It looks tacky to acquire a modern setting and Shakespearian language together. Another point is the movie “Hamlet” cut out several important scenes like the grave digger scene. The grave diggers are meant to show how others, who don’t come from a rich background, view the monarchs in this time period. The removal of this scene is a gutsy move by the producers. Shakespeare wouldn’t appreciate the change to his original play. Also, Shakespeare plays are NEVER meant to change to the modern 2000s. This move changes the plot, the setting, and many scenes. From changing the monarchy government to CEOs of business to having swords changed to guns as the main weapons of the story line, ruins the writing of Shakespeare. Rating the movie “Hamlet” as two stars gives justice to the movie watchers; therefore, they don’t waste time seeing this horrendous remake. The actors and Hamlet’s crazy personality is the only reason the movie could be considered watchable. These reasons aren’t exactly enough to see this movie though. “Hamlet” needs to improve greatly by including more realistic special effects, a justifiable ending, and match the play before gaining a higher rating.
Well... It's Ethan Hawke as Hamlet, thereby making it difficult to say much else. Seriously though, the movie is fairly well done, and does a clever job of modernising the story while still staying astoundingly true to the themes of the original. I would say that if you enjoyed Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet, then you would also find this enjoyable
i absolutlty love this version of Hamlet, it is probally the best i've ever seen, Ethan Hawk is extraordianry.
''Hamlet'' is, arguably, the greatest play in the English language and some fine interpretations have been captured on film. This is not among them. Shakespeare can be updated (withness ''Richard III'' with McKellan) but this one is trivialized and stupidly cut to appeal to the lowered intellectual abilities of today's audiences. Avoid this travesty. Even Mel Gibson's is superior on all counts. If you must have a modern cast, Branagh's is to eb released on DVD in early 2004 and is superior on all counts.
i have to say that this movie makes all other hamlet remakes a little turd in the toilet. id have to honestly say that this is the mother of all hamlets. i dont think that shakespeare ever expected a movie to dominate his writing skills as ethan hawke in hamlet has just done.
my acp english class did a segment on shakespeare's hamlet, which entaled reading the play, reviews, comparisions, and viewing several adaptations with film. while i found this to be one of the more enjoyable versions of hamlet, however because i knew the full play and extent of the story i was left semi-unsatisfied. the movie was clever and unique in its portrayal of the reaccuring themes throughout the origional production, yet left me feeling incomplete. the choppy scene transitions and shallow emotional build led me to want more of what i was never to recieve. i give the film cuddos for providing the story in a rythmic, upbeat, intriguing version and would deffinately recommend viewing, even owning the movie, but would not dubb it the best film version of hamlet yet to be made.
I am a Shakespeare fan and this was a great modern adaptation of Hamlet.
AMAZING..the symbolism in this film is incredible. Moreover, it takes the presiding theme in Shakespear's play, the idea of re-production, playing within a play, and expresses it through modern media. The motif of screens and recording are phenomenal.... Ethan Hawke is amazing, he shows that you do not need a snobbish british accent to do Shakespear. AMAZING FILM...AMAZING MISE-EN-SCENE (Directing Term for how shots are shot...)...GREAT ACTING... !!!! GREAT FILM!