Hey folks, Valkor here. Thanks to the folks at Warner, TOV is getting a little cultured in the form of BBC's "Hamlet" on Blu-ray (Directed by Gregory Doran); it's a 21st century take on a classic play tale and only those who enjoy this sort of cinema need apply. For me, it's pretty good because next to Othello, Hamlet is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays.
For those who don't know the tale of Hamlet, it is the story of… well, Hamlet (played by David Tennant) whose father the King (Patrick Stewart), has recently died. His friend Horatio (Peter De Jersey) and two guards happened upon his father's ghost. And on the third night, Hamlet joins them to find the ghost once again. It beckons Hamlet to follow him, where he reveals that his death was a murder… by his uncle Claudius (Played by Patrick Stewart as well)… who is currently married to the Queen. With this knowledge, Hamlet goes mad and vows to avenge his father's death. But in order to get proof that his uncle did the deed, Hamlet has a bunch of players perform a scene similar to how the Ghost described his father's death. If Claudius reacts in any way, it will reveal he did it. And he does react. The story ends with Hamlet, dueling with Laertes (Edward Bennet) and his Uncle trying to poison him.
What's interesting about this film is that it's not a period piece, but Shakespeare in a modern era. Everyone is dressed in modern day clothes and there's even cameras and electrical equipment about. I guess you could say it's similar to 1996's Romeo and Juliet, which was the same concept. But BBC's Hamlet is more subtle and contained, not Hollywood loud. The ending could have been better; rather it was quick to the point. If I had to choose a version of Hamlet over the ones I've seen, my pick would be Kenneth Branagh's take, which was more epic in scope. Needless to say, Doran's version is still exceptional and an excellent take on the classic tale. The acting is great, Tennant and Stewart do amazing jobs… maybe a bit over dramatic in some areas, but still quite a treat.
The film is presented in Hi-Def 1080i, taken from the TV source and given the 16X9 anamorphic treatment to fill the screen. It has some very strong darks, especially deep blacks that really fit the mood of the story. Audio is English stereo 2.0, nothing special since everything stays within the left/right and center channels.
First up we have "The Making of Hamlet", which is a behind the scene look at how the film was made with interviews of the cast and crew. And you also get a commentary track from Gregory Doran (the Director), Sebastian Grant, and Chris Seger.
Overall, Hamlet is the type kind of film that you would have to already be a fan of. And if you've never watched or read one of Shakespeare's plays, then the BBC take is definitely the way to try it out. Out of TOV 5 stars, I give Hamlet from the BBC network 3.5 stars and it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved.