Hamlet (1996 with Kenneth Branagh and Richard Attenborough)

UK / 1996

Dir: Kenneth Branagh
Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Richard Attenborough, Kate Winslet, Brian Blessed, Richard Briers, Julie Christie, Billy Crystal, Judi Dench, Gerard Depardieu, Derek Jacobi, Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Spall

Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh), son of the King of Denmark, is summoned home for his father’s funeral and his mother Gertrude’s (Julie Christie) wedding to his hated uncle Claudius (Derek Jacobi). At the dead of night he witnesses his father’s ghost who informs him that Claudius murdered him and begins a rapid descent into feigned or real madness affecting all around him. As Hamlet runs amok, he becomes responsible for the death of the prime minister, drives the innocent Ophelia (Kate Winslet) to her death by drowning, plots against his uncle and finally takes a revenge which also costs his friends their lives.

This mammoth film version from actor/ director Kenneth Branagh features one of the finest casts ever assembled on film while Branagh himself delivers an assured Hamlet who manages to combine compassion, popularity and kindness with ruthlessness and a steely mind for plotting.

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