Hamlet – Blu-ray Review
By Jeff Swindoll May 4, 2010, 15:46 GMT
David Tennant and Patrick Stewart star in this critically acclaimed production of Shakespeare?s masterpiece from Britain?s renowned Royal Shakespeare Company. No recent stage production in Britain has attracted the excitement and nearly unanimous critical praise as this Hamlet. Tennant\'s interpretation was recognized as defining the role for a generation, and Stewart?s complex Claudius won the Olivier award, Britain?s highest stage honor. In this specially-shot screen version, filmed on location rather ...more
To be or not to be, that is the question. David Tennant took time off from traveling around in a police box to star in a stage production of Hamlet from the Royal Shakespeare Company. This led to refit for the final season of Tennant’s term as Doctor Who but also a cool new take on the prince of Denmark.
The old king of Denmark is dead. However, watchmen Marcellus (Keith Osborn) and Barnardo (Ewen Cummins) have called the prince’s best friend Horatio (Peter de Jersey) to witness something strange. About the time that the trio arrives, the old King Hamlet’s (Patrick Stewart) ghost appears and silently beckons.
Meanwhile, Hamlet (David Tennant) is silently loathing the fact that his mother Queen Gertrude (Penny Downie) has quickly remarried to his uncle Claudius (Patrick Stewart again) who has now ascended to the throne. Horatio tells Hamlet of the vision of his dead father and Hamlet insists on confronting the restless spirit.
When he goes to the location and sees his father, the ghost secretly confesses to his son that he was murdered by his brother for the throne and queen. Hamlet swears revenge against Claudius but feigns madness to bide his time till the opportunity for his revenge presents itself.
The king’s elderly advisor Polonius (Oliver Ford Davies) is seeing his son Laertes (Edward Bennett) off to France. Polonius’ daughter Ophelia (Mariah Gale) is soon courted by the mad Hamlet, but she is alarmed by his odd behavior. A war is brewing between Denmark and Norway and Hamlet’s quest for vengeance will bring a pox upon the house of Denmark.
I especially liked it when during the climactic battle that Hamlet regenerated into Matt Smith… but seriously. Doctor Who’s David Tennant stepped away from the sci-fi series to star on the stage in a modern dress version of Hamlet. It went on to great acclaim on the stage but it also abbreviated Tennant’s run as the Doctor, so it may be viewed with a jaundiced eye.
Luckily, the BBC decided to do a television version so that those of us who couldn’t make it to London to catch it on the stage could see what all the fuss was about. Hamlet is a staple of Brit theatrical production and it’s well known that actors doing “to be or not to be” have to deal with the turning pages of those following along with their copies of the text.
Tennant is at times maniacal, pitiable, and full of righteous fury. In other words, everything we expect of Hamlet. Patrick Stewart is also solid in the dual role of Claudius and Old Hamlet. Penny Downie a fine Gertrude, Oliver Ford Davies a flummoxed Polonius, in other words just right, Edward Bennett a noble Laertes, Peter de Jersey a loyal Horatio, and Mariah Gale a loving Ophelia that is driven to madness by Hamlet’s deception.
The costuming is more modern but the text is from the master. Some of the filming choices left me a bit wondering, such as the choice to occasionally switch to a close circuit camera.
It’s like someone is watching Hamlet (security department?) but we’re never shown who exactly that could be. It’s still a wonderful production of the Bard, but sure to appeal a bit more to fans of Doctor Who.
Hamlet is presented in a 1080i high definition transfer (1.85:1). Special features are presented in standard definition and include a commentary by director Gregory Doran, production Sebastian Grant, and director of photography Chris Seager, a 32 minute behind-the-scenes, and a 3 minute commercial for careers in the theatre.
O horrible, O horrible, most horrible! That’s not the case with this production of Hamlet. In fact, it’s quite good. Just make sure you have the three hour timeframe to fit it into.
Visit the DVD database for more information.
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CDavid Tennant Biography -
David Tennant Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesPatrick Stewart Biography -
Patrick Stewart Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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