FILM Review
Hamlet (2009 - TV)
Directed by Gregory Doran
Staring: David Tennant and Patrick Stewart

This Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) 2009 filmed version of "Hamlet" captures the essence of the play vastly better than most versions.

David Tennant's phrasing of each of Hamlet's lines provides an emotional depth of understanding that makes the iambic pentameter accessible in a way that I have only experienced in my own silent readings to myself.

I have committed to memory several parts of various Shakespeare plays, and recite from memory certain soliloquies from Hamlet all the time. I have so wished that the various actors I have watched over the years speak Shakespeare with an emotional understanding of each word and modern intonation in a way that students could understand the greatness of the language. I have seen Sir Ian McKellan play "Richard III" live, and even then, as great an actor as Sir Ian is, I felt his phrasing was archaic and only avid fans could fully grasp the heartache and desperation in Shakespeare's characters.

The triumph of the RSC's 2009 version of Hamlet is that each actor speaks each line with emotional clarity. Yes, I know that with emotional clarity there is less of the dialogue open to the viewers' interpretation. This is a "Hamlet" that clearly believes the ghost of Hamlet's father was real. This a "Hamlet" that believed that Ophelia loved Hamlet and that Hamlet truly loved Ophelia. This is a "Hamlet" that believes Hamlet was in great danger, if he directly attempted to overthrow Claudius from the throne, so Hamlet had to feign madness to achieve his objective. And, yes, this is a "Hamlet" that believed Hamlet's madness was feigned.

I have thought and read "Hamlet", where each of those points of view were opposite, but this 2009 productions strong points of view didn't bother me at all. I found its clarity of mind almost refreshing, if not liberating, because without all of the ambiguity, I could simply enjoy the action and drama.

Sir Patrick Stewart is astonishing as Claudius; he is every bit the King. I have watched Sir Patrick live on stage several times, on television and film, and his experience and comfort with the character is obvious. It is good to see him in fine form.

The set and stage direction is as clear as the actors and the dialogue. Bravo!

I highly recommend this RSC 2009 television version of "Hamlet".


  dennis ChiU

Green light means "Go: this is a must-see movie".

Yellow light means "Caution: I re- commend this film with reservations".

Red light means "Stop: don't waste your time".