Hamlet 2024 movie review

The Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 wreaked havoc on the performing arts scene in the UK, with theatres bearing the brunt of the damage. Among the casualties was Sean Mathias’s production of “Hamlet” at the Theatre Royal Windsor, a fact acknowledged in the opening credits of this unique film adaptation of the play.

While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert Shakespeare scholar like the esteemed Mrs. Movie Mann, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing multiple renditions of “Hamlet,” and this one truly struck a chord with both of us.

Mark your calendars for February 27, 2024, as this film will have a one-night-only screening in UK cinemas—don’t miss out!

Sean Mathias has crafted a quirky rendition of “Hamlet” tailored for those with a shorter attention span for Shakespearean dramas. Unlike Kenneth Branagh’s marathon 1996 adaptation, which clocked in at over four hours, or Andrew Scott’s captivating London stage version, this abridged rendition keeps it concise, running at under half the length. While purists may lament the omissions, the brisk pacing keeps the action engaging—a refreshing change of pace.

At 84 years young, Sir Ian McKellen takes on the titular role of Hamlet, a casting choice that defies conventional logic given his age in comparison to the character’s mother, Gertrude, portrayed by the vibrant Jenny Seagrove. Yet, McKellen’s mastery of the role transcends any age-related discrepancies, infusing the character with depth and vitality. McKellen’s performance exudes a palpable sense of enjoyment, making it impossible not to revel in his portrayal.

The supporting cast delivers standout performances as well, with Jonathan Hyde as Claudius, Steven Berkoff as Polonius, and Emmanuella Cole as Laertes. However, it’s Alis Wyn Davies as Ophelia who truly steals the show with her portrayal of the tragic character in a captivating rock-chick rendition, leaving a lasting impression that moves viewers to tears.

Amidst the challenges of lockdown, the Theatre Royal Windsor was ingeniously transformed into a film set, utilizing every nook and cranny—from dressing rooms to the stage to the auditorium—to bring the production to life. The film opens with a bewildered McKellen attempting to enter the deserted theatre from the eerie streets outside, setting the stage for the atmospheric journey that follows. With Francesca Annis hauntingly embodying the ghost of Hamlet’s father, the film ingeniously utilizes the theatre’s architecture to enhance the mood and ambiance of the story.

In essence, this unconventional adaptation of “Hamlet” is a testament to the resilience and creativity of the arts community, delivering a fresh and captivating take on a timeless classic.


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By acinetv