Saturday, August 18, 2007

To buy or not to buy? This is the answer. . .

Having watched the film again for the first time in ten years and listened to all four hours of the commentary by Kenneth Branagh (with Shakespearen scholar Russell Jackson) on his film Hamlet, I can't recommend this DVD highly enough. WOW! It's like listening in to a masterclass on the play. Branagh knows Hamlet backwards and forwards as does most of the cast (count the number of incredible actors in the film who have also played Hamlet either on stage or screen - there's a funny anecdote about Derek Jacobi uncharacteristically forgetting his Claudius lines because he was remembering Hamlet's) and so his analysis of the speeches and the minor characters is so intelligent, illuminating and articulate. And of course for film buffs there's quite a bit on how certain shots were filmed. But the emphasis is really on the brilliance of the play and Branagh's particular interpretation of it; I certainly wish I'd had this DVD for my undergrad Shakespeare course! The exteriors shots were filmed at Bleinheim Palace, just outside of Oxford, but the photos I've included here are of the real locale - Kronberg Castle in Helsinore in the north of Denmark, which I visited last year. Many productions of Hamlet have been staged in the courtyard that you can partially see in the shot above through the window.

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