The play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, was first performed around 1600. Since then, it has proven to be one of the English language's most enduring stories, and there has never been a decade that hasn't seen dozens of new productions. Hamlet has come to the screen numerous times, in incarnations varying from early, silent versions to grand, color epics. Legendary actors John Gielgud, Richard Burton, and Laurence Olivier have taken the lead role. Now, as the curtain falls on the 1996 movie season, another Hamlet has opened. And, in a statement that I do not make lightly, this latest version is not only the best filmed adaptation of Hamlet I have ever seen, but the best cinematic expression that I have come across of any of Shakespeare's plays.
Hamlet has been something of a private obsession for Kenneth Branagh since, at the age of eleven, he first saw it on British TV. Even when Henry V was an international sensation, he was adamant that his true dream was to bring an unabridged version of Hamlet to the screen. Now, half a decade later, after directing Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing and co-starring in Othello, that vision has been realized. Branagh's Hamlet, filmed in 70 mm, has arrived in all its…show more content… Hamlet deals with, among other things, madness and revenge, sex and love, politics and treachery, and ghosts, both real and figurative. Yet, despite the depth and weight of the issues it essays, there is still a great deal of humor and good, old-fashioned adventure. Hamlet can quite literally make you laugh and cry, hiss and cheer. It also contains a slew of famous lines, including, but not limited to the likes of "Frailty, thy name is woman!", "To thine own self be true", "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark", "Brevity is the soul of wit", "The play's the thing", "The lady doeth protest too much", and, of course, "To be, or not to be, that is the