This is a Great Performances presentation of Joseph Papps 1990 New York Shakespeare Festival production of the play. Hamlet returns from university for his fathers funeral to find his uncle married to his mother. Prompted by his fathers ghost, Hamlet carries out his investigation and revenge.
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For the most part, this is a first-rate version of the play, and thecurrentmean score -- 7.8 -- is a lot more reasonable than the ridiculously low"weighted" average of five-and-a-half.Kevin Kline is excellent for the most part, especially when he's beingquietly contemptuous and bitterly ironic. He only falters somewhat whentrying to express loud rage. At these points (thankfully rare) he bellowsina melodramatic, actorish manner and occasionally rolls around on thefloorala Curly in The Three Stooges.Special note should be made of Peter Francis James, who plays Horatio.He'sexcellent as Hamlet's one real friend. His attempt to act like a true"Roman" actually brought a tear to my eye -- the only time I've evergottenweepy during this particular play.8/10
Kline slips easily into the role of Hamlet, displaying the humor thatShakespeare gave the character even in the midst of a tragedy, whilemaintaining elegant poise in tragic scenes.Unlike the dark sets and Elizabethan costume that dominate many versionsofthis play, the modern costumes (women in evening gowns, men in militaryuniform) and sparse sets used by Kline emphasize the interpretation of thescript via the actors, not the setting. The actors seize this opportunityvigorously along with Kline, interpreting Shakespeare to provide newinsights into age-old characters that have on several occasions slippedintostrict stereotypes.I found this version a bit confusing the first time I watched it as itbrokenew ground and interpreted in ways that I'd never thought upon tointerpreta Shakespearean tragedy. Upon my second viewing, I was able to catch theminute nuances that I had failed to see the first time, adding to therichness and excellence of this version. I look forward to futureendeavorsby Kline in the realm of Shakespeare (notably: A Midsummer Night's Dreamtobe released in May 1999)
If you are curious to watch a film version of Hamlet, this is wellworth the while. Present on a bare stage, what drives each actors'performance is truly the emotions, which Kline is no exception. Theimplicate of the ghost appearance to Hamlet, makes the madness thatfollows seem more genuine then perhaps dare I say it, Olivier's Hamlet.Kline throws himself into the role until you are clinging on to everyword he says, even if you've read Hamlet a hundred times. Plus theintimate atmosphere of the staging, allows the action to seem morereal. I've seen many version of the bard's great play, but this is thefirst time I've honestly cried along with Hamlet.
Kevin Kline does a rather excellent job with Hamlet, keeping the mania,self-righteousness and bitterness of Hamlet intact, all characteristicsthat make Hamlet less than likable, while still being a verysympathetic and throughly intriguing character. We can empathize withhis plight, and even though he's often a lot to take, we feel like hereally alone in a corrupt and vile world, and not just an overlycritical bastard (like Brannagh's Hamlet.) Unfortunately, Ophelia sucksand practically derails the play. Claudius, Gertrude, and Horatio areimpressive, but they can't save the play from Ophelia's dreadfuloverracting and the utter irritation that issues forth from thisteleplay's Polonius. Overall, worth it for Kline, but far from perfect.