Hamlet (2009)

 (1,468)8.23 h 2 min2010X-RayPG
The Royal Shakespeare Company's award-winning production of Hamlet, directed by RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, stars David Tennant (Doctor Who) in the title role. Adapted for the screen and filmed on location, this dynamic, exciting and contemporary production features all key original cast members from the staged version, including Patrick Stewart as Claudius. An Illuminations/Royal Shakespeare Company Production for BBC Wales in association with Thirteen for WNET.ORG and NHK.
Gregory Doran
David TennantPatrick StewartPenny Downie
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Mariah Gale
David HornBethan JonesTaro TeraokaDenise Wood
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

1468 global ratings

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  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars

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Top reviews from the United States

Lars HansenReviewed in the United States on December 8, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
An English Teacher's Dream Come True
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I'm a 12-grade English teacher and I can highly recommend this version of a core classic! Tennant's performance, for such a complicated character as Hamlet, is incredibly compelling. He captures the madness and melancholy in such an entertaining and effective way. Patrick Stewart as Claudius is another amazing choice. He's so commanding and evil as a villain. My students were engaged each time we viewed an act from the play and I believe this version did an effective job at illuminating many of the symbolic elements. For example, we talked a lot about the film's choice to use surveillance cameras and Hamlet's handi-cam to do his soliloquys as a way to show the theme of "appearance vs. reality". Overall, this is a thoroughly superb version of Hamlet and a breath of fresh air for educators. A+
53 people found this helpful
JeriReviewed in the United States on March 26, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
For those of you who's in it for David Tennant.
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Now I'll be honest, I'm not a stage play or Shakespeare enthusiast. I have attention span of a cat and I get distracted easily. I'm writing this as someone who's only interested in watching this particular play because of David Tennant.

For someone with short attention span like myself, a 3-hour movie is a chore. The moment I started watching this movie to the very end of the show, I didn't pause once. I watched the whole thing in one go! The best part? I enjoyed every single minute of it. Now, that's saying a lot, a real lot. The acting was superbly well done by Tennant, Stewart, and basically every single one of the cast member. The chemistry between Stewart and Tennant are incredible. I'm honored to have witnessed such talented individuals interact.
The movie put on a modern touch and the story flows beautifully. The movie looks like a stage play BUT it doesn't feel like you're watching it in a theater. The camera movements were wonderful. It takes you through the entirely movie almost like you're standing there watching quietly.

If you're one of those people who's curious about Tennant's ability to act, watch Hamlet. He's brilliant, he's beyond brilliant to be honest. He takes you through the movie, sits you down, puts on a show, then he gradually takes you to the next scene. This man is Hamlet for new generation. Watch the show, you won't regret it.
49 people found this helpful
Dr. J.Reviewed in the United States on January 3, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best adaptation to date
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I showed this to my students when we were reading through Hamlet. It really helped them understand the text, as the actors are speaking the actual lines as they were written. The use of the original verbiage is a great counterpoint to the more contemporary setting change, and is executed so flawlessly that the actors couldn't be better understood if they were speaking modern English. The camera work and use of sets are quite impressive and show Gregory Doran's creative genius. David Tennant really shines as the perhaps-mad Danish prince, and gives a remarkable performance that still leaves the audience arguing whether Hamlet is insane or just cagey. Sir Patrick Stewart is also phenomenal as Hamlet Sr/ Claudius, but the real show-stealers are Polonius (Oliver Ford Davies) and the gravedigger (Mark Hadfield), whose quick-witted jibes are too-often lost on readers.
If you're looking for the absolute best version of this classic play, look no further than this one.
8 people found this helpful
NC38Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent performance with a surprisingly weak ending
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I was really impressed with the first nine tenths of this version, to the point where I thought it the best of the movie versions I have seen (this, Jacobi, Branagh, Olivier). Stewart is a good Claudius, and Oliver Ford Davies is wonderful as Polonius. Laertes and Ophelia do a fine job in their roles. Tennant is spectacular as Hamlet: he completely inhabits the role, moving fluidly from one state of mind to the next. His "To be or not to be" is easily the favorite of those I have seen.

Unfortunately, the performance seems to lose its creative energy beginning with the gravedigger scene. The actor for the gravedigger is colorless, though perhaps the scene is lamed more by cutting so many of the lines. The duel seemed to lack spirit; the Olivier version is far better, with more exciting action and more emotional complexity. And finally (though the Olivier version makes this cut as well), this version leaves out the final triumph of Fortinbras.

I suppose it's good to know that there are still excellent reasons to see the whole play performed in theater.
2 people found this helpful
Matt PosnerReviewed in the United States on January 24, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
There are some good insights in the performances
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I bought this to teach Hamlet to high school students. It follows the text well. I agree with the cuts, which are only a few lines here and there in most cases. Actually, there is one cut I disagree with: they took out some of the joking between the gravediggers in Act V scene I. I'd rather that have been left in, and some of Osric be trimmed in Act V scene 2. There are some good insights in the performances. Penny Downie brings more to Gertrude than many better-known actresses have. The actress playing Ophelia is a little over-the-top. Patrick Stewart really should not play villains.. I complained about this when I reviewed his lead performance in the BBC's Macbeth. He's too fundamentally likeable, too visibly noble and decent, and this shows in his portrayal of Claudius also. Look for his final gesture in Claudius' death scene to see how one small movement humanizes the character in an intriguing way.
14 people found this helpful
STReviewed in the United States on July 13, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best Version of Hamlet I've Seen
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If I'm totally honest, I didn't love Shakespeare until I watched this version of Hamlet. I took a Shakespeare class in college. I loved the idea of Shakespeare more than I actually enjoyed watching. Well, I should say, I mostly read Shakespeare up to that point, which is a shame! Shakespeare is meant to be watched. It is meant to be heard and felt through the actors portraying wonderfully complex and clever stories. Watching this version of Hamlet made me realize how Shakespeare was always intended to be experienced. (I know I was at home and not in a theater, but it still was amazing.) David Tennant and Patrick Stewart gave brilliant performances. There is a moment where you can see the crazy switch in Hamlet's eyes. It gave me chills. I was blown away by how powerful David Tennant's portrayal of Hamlet was. I have also seen the National Theater's version with Benedict Cumberbatch, and I have to say, this one is better. If you prefer the lighter side of Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing with Catherine Tate and David Tennant is a hilarious, thoroughly entertaining play.
11 people found this helpful
B. MaroldReviewed in the United States on July 10, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
The new standard for Hamlet
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I confess that when I first viewed this DVD, seeing perhaps the first two scenes before falling asleep, I was not especially impressed, because Tennant's initial surly Hamlet seemed to be just a petulant kid in comparison to the likes of Branagh, Burton, and Olivier. But that's the point, and that's the genius of this production. Here, we finally have an actor who can convincingly look and act the age of Hamlet, who has barely reached the age of 21 and still a college student. After he meets the spirit on the battlements, Tennant reaches his stride. In fact, the scene where he meets the specter of his father (played by Patrick Steward, who also plays his uncle) is done for the first time in such a way as we understand the charge given by the specter to Hamlet.

This is a benefit of the fact that I believe this production has almost every word Shakespeare wrote. The full Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern subplot is here, and we get the fullest sense of the air that all of the Danish royal family have become unstuck from reality, and time and space are not what they should be. It is hard to pinpoint exactly where Hamlet's make believe madness turns into real madness. It may be when he kills Polonius, and thinks little of it, while acting entirely inappropriately towards his mother. The clue there is that is when he first breaks a mirror.

The modern (or at least early 20th century) setting does not put off one bit. In fact, one of the few inventive pieces of business which take advantage of this is that Hamlet kills Polonius with a revolver rather than with a sword or dagger. His sword is also replaced by a rather lethal looking switch blade.

Aside from Tennant and Stewart, there are no famous names and faces in the cast; however, all carry their parts quite well. One of the delights, as usual, is the business carried out by the visiting troupe of actors. Unlike some productions, the pantomime scene is included, before the full "Murder of Gonzago" is presented with Hamlet's added speech. Two scenes which seem to come off with less force is the gravedigger scene and the final fencing scene. Other productions have had brilliant comedians play the gravedigger. This actor was merely competent (although the business with which it was done had some very droll touches. I must note that Mariah Gale did an interpretation which is totally different from the frail, dutiful daughter done by Jean Simmons in Olivier's production or the freer and more limber Kate Winslet in Branagh's production. One might almost consider her a tom boy.

The director, Gregory Doran earned his pay with this production. The sense of something being rotten in Denmark starts early and builds to the famous murderous climax.

The setting is perfect as a modern royal castle of a smaller royal family. It has none of the over the top expanse of Branagh and the gloomy ill lit damp rooms by Olivier.
10 people found this helpful
"mariseldv"Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best Hamlet EVER
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David Tennant was definitely made for this part. Perhaps this is exactly what Shakespeare envisioned when he wrote it. Patrick Stuart was beautifully duplicitous and evil as King Claudius. Penny Downie portrayal of Queen Gertrude as a naive new wife and devoted mother was flawless. I could go on and on regarding the rest of the main cast: Polonius, Ophelia, Leartes, "Good Horatio" and the Gravedigger (best one ever as well), who were all magnificent.
If you love Hamlet, watch this.
If you've had trouble understanding it, watch this!
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