Friday, August 17, 2007

Finally! Hamlet on DVD

Oooh, I've been waiting for this for a long time. Ten years in fact. Last night I just watched the extras which has interviews with some of the cast and some fairly funny trailers from some black and white Shakespeare adapations from the 1930s. I'm looking forward to watching the whole movie twice this weekend - once just to enjoy it and the second time with the commentary on, by Kenneth Branagh (in his introduction he promises daft anecdotes and the odd insight) and Shakespeare scholar Russell Jackson, author of The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film. Branagh is fantastic at doing DVD commentary and I highly recommend that you turn it on for his previous film Dead Again (in which, among other topics, he talks about all the Shakespearean references he subtly threw into his very modern thriller). I already have four other versions of Hamlet in my DVD collection where the title role is played by (in descending order of success) Derek Jacobi, Laurence Olivier, Ethan Hawke and Mel Gibson, and while I think Jacobi makes the best Hamlet, this version by Branagh is definately the best over-all film. Shot at Bleinham Palace and featuring a great cast (Kate Winslet is terrific as Ophelia and likewise Jacobi as Claudius), this is also the only film version that covers the entire play. Branagh's take on As You Like It - set in Japan - comes out on DVD next month. Can one dare to hope that In the Bleak Midwinter, his hilarious comedy about a troupe of misfit actors putting on an amateur production of Hamlet will soon follow? As well as his equally wonderful comedy Peter's Friends? My two VHS tapes are going to fall apart soon.

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