Director Laurence Olivier; featuring Olivier, Eileen Herlie, Jean Simmons
Also called Shakespeare's Hamlet
Director Tony Richardson; featuring Nicol Williamson, Judy Parfitt, Anthony Hopkins, Marianne Faithfull
Director Rodney Bennett; featuring Derek Jacobi, Claire Bloom, Patrick Stewart, Lalla Ward
Director Franco Zeffirelli; featuring Mel Gibson, Glenn Close, Alan Bates, Helena Bonham-Carter
Director Kevin Kline; featuring Kline, Dana Ivey, Brian Murray
Also called William Shakespeare's Hamlet
Director Kenneth Branagh; featuring Branagh, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, Gérard Depardieu
Director Michael Almereyda; featuring Ethan Hawke, Sam Shepard, Kyle McLachlan, Diane Venora, Julia Stiles, Bill Murray
COMMENTARY | MOVIES
Kevin Kline is a thoughtful and thought-provoking Hamlet in 1990 film of stage production.
Hamlet the Thoughtful
The same year as Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet film, we saw a competing and very different take on Hamlet.
The film directed by and starring Kevin Kline was actually intended as a television presentation of the play from the 1990 New York Shakespeare Festival.
It doesn't deliver what people expect of Hamlet since it places the action on a bare stage but in an imagined modern setting and with modern dress. In this version of the play, the student Hamlet returns from university for his father's funeral to find his widowed mother already remarried to his uncle.
The dialogue is still Shakespeare's—at three hours long, it's relatively faithful—but the interpretations are unusual.
Kline's Hamlet is quiet-spoken and thoughtful for much of the time, making his periodic, irrational flailing out all the more dramatic. His "To be or not to be" speech, for example, is hardly a speech at all, but is almost whispered (albeit a stage whisper), like a man speaking to himself, drawing us into the working of his tortured mind—a revelatory sequence that makes a strange sense of his subsequent cruel berating of Ophelia that drives her to oblivion.
The "Get thee to a nunnery" scene between Hamlet and Ophelia in Kevin Kline's production.
This is a thought-provoking version that people either hate or love. I'm on the love side.
COMMENTARY | MOVIES