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Corner  HAMLET


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Sales Rank: 2,954

Actors: David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, Penny Downie, Oliver Ford Davies, Mariah Gale
Director: Gregory Doran
Rating: NR
Features: Color, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Running Time: 180 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Studio: BBC Warner

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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 fora 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 than in the theater, Tennant and Stewart reprise their roles. Dynamic, exciting and contemporary, it breathes newlife into Shakespeare's greatest play.
It's to director Gregory Doran's incredible credit that his staging of that most familiar of English-language plays, Shakespeare's Hamlet, should be completely reinvigorated by a modern interpretation of the tragedy as a true psychological thriller. This Hamlet, filmed in 2009, presents the inner torment of the Danish prince Hamlet as a believable, relatable controlled explosion of emotions, each more unmanageable than the last. Besides the director, the casting is also brilliant, including the Scottish actor David Tennant Doctor Who as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Hamlet's uncle Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet's father--who, Hamlet becomes convinced, was killed by Claudius. The direction is brisk, and the acting is first rate. Tennant plays a heartbreaking Hamlet, whose paranoia and weird inner reflections are given a modern spin by the lush, shiny mirrorlike surfaces in the palace, as well as by small but excellent details, like a closed-circuit camera system. And Stewart is menacing but completely collected as Claudius, and unnerving as his brother's ghost. Other strong performances are contributed by Penny Downie as Hamlet's mother, Gertrude; Mariah Gale as Ophelia who's not quite up to par with the rest of the cast, until she goes mad; then boy does she ever go mad; and Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius. But it's Tennant as the mad prince who is riveting in Hamlet. His "To be or not to be, that is the question" soliloquy--perhaps the best-known speech in English theater--is delivered in a hushed, anguished, all-too-believable manner--occasionally addressing the camera, which is fixed close on Tennant's face. The DVD also includes a must-see documentary on making Hamlet, which includes great interviews with director Doran, cast members and the art directors, set designers and others who give this Hamlet a fresh, polished sheen--while keeping the ages-old tragedy of Shakespeare's words and the explosion of needless death close to the original. The impact is unforgettable; this Hamlet is a terrific achievement. --A.T. Hurley

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