You will be spoilt for choice if you are looking for a Hamlet film. One of the best versions we have come across is the flamboyant one by Kenneth Branagh.
Released in 1996 and set in 19th-century Denmark, it received several nominations, even one for the Oscars.
Not only is Kenneth Branagh the director, but he also brilliantly interprets the main role of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Son of the dead former King, he discovers a terrible truth about his uncle Claudius, who has become the present King and married his sister-in-law.
What stands out in Branagh’s performance is his terrific ability to interpret a role as challenging as Hamlet is. In all his Shakespearean works, Branagh’s distinguishing features are his powerful voice, his strong body language, his intense facial expressions which always help to convey more realism and emotion to the scenes. No less outstanding is Kate Winslet’s interpretation as Ophelia, a passionate woman ready to do everything for her beloved Hamlet.
In addition to an atmosphere of haunted castles and courts of treason, there’s also a careful choice of costumes that reflect the society of that time. Another aspect to which Branagh pays great attention is music: it matches perfectly the story that is being told and contributes significantly to involving and moving the viewer.
The director’s skill is also expressed by the added value he confers to every scene through extreme close-ups and detailed shots. One of the most significant full-length frames is surely the one of the mirror reflecting Hamlet while he utters the famous “To be, not to be” soliloquy: is it “nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them”?
The universality of such deep themes is not the only reason why we highly recommend this film: it is also worth watching because of the mastery in transposing, directing and interpreting The Tragedy of Hamlet. It is a must-see at least once in a lifetime.
Chiara Franzin, Beatrice Lorenzon, Eleonora Pavan, Alissa Scabbia e Asia Spaziani