Is there a way for a mere college kid,
Who hardly can recall the time of day,
To have the slightest clue of how to do
A film review about a Shakespeare play?
I once again must face that question now
Of whether I should judge only the film,
Or judge the work the film is based on too?
And why the heck did Shakespeare write this way?
So now that I’m done with the iambic pentameter (and I’ll admit I didn’t even rhyme it right for Shakespeare), let’s talk about Hamlet the play. I like Hamlet, as a character, and I find him to be rather fascinating. I can understand an intellectual who struggles to accept the concept of death, is obsessive and goes kind of insane, and slowly, methodically plans out how he can make clever plans once he has good evidence suggesting it is wise to do so. Perhaps it may frighten some people to hear me say this, but I can relate to the guy. That being said, it takes him months, and we have to watch five whole acts. We shouldn’t have to wait that long, so as to keep waiting in suspense from becoming waiting in boredom. That’s my main problem with Hamlet – it’s tedious.
Aside from that, Hamlet is a very well-written story with an interesting premise, clever dialogue, and strong characters, so this seems like a natural fit for cinema. This has been adapted for film and television many times, and while I have not completely finished watching the version with Patrick Stewart and David Tennant, I may like their performances of the characters just a wee bit better. Still, this movie has a really fantastic cast – all of them brilliant and/or super famous – and the characters are all done well. The acting may be a little over the top, but I don’t think that hurts the film.
Actually, one of the major criticisms I’ve seen of this movie is that it’s too theatrical. I’m not sure I believe in such a thing. The very theatrical acting works very well for the nature of this production. The shots are all huge, and I suppose they are theatrical, but I see them as cinematic. One might say that my heart belongs to film, but I still have the hots for theater. One would be right. I felt like I was watching a humongous theater production the whole time, and I loved that.
I must say that my big problem with it is still the length. I watched the full-length version on DVD, and I was frightened when I got to the end of disc one, which I thought would be the end of the movie, but I found out that it was only the end of the first half! The rest one on disk two, and it was a bit of a chore to get through. The impressive thing about this movie, however, is that it’s really the first time anyone had tried to do the whole play as a movie before, keeping in every word. This movie did Hamlet without editing it down, and that’s rather impressive. So, if you’re okay with a ridiculously long movie that looks good, has great writing, and has strong characters, I highly recommend it.