Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get Thee to Terrific `Hamlet' Fine 4-Hour Treatment of Shakespeare Tragedy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get Thee to Terrific `Hamlet' Fine 4-Hour Treatment of Shakespeare Tragedy

Article excerpt

Put a little more money in the baby-sitter budget. It'll be

needed. Cancel those plans for dinner after the movie. There

won't be time.

Kenneth Branagh's full-text version of Hamlet comes to

Jacksonville today, to the AMC Regency 8. And though it's not

without a problem or two, anyone who's ever had a thing for

Shakespeare shouldn't miss this ambitious, audacious version,

which runs four hours long -- not counting an

intermission/bathroom break.

We'll note that Branagh's ego might bug some people. It is a

considerable one, the ego of this modern Shakespearean, and he

flaunts it repeatedly.

Just look as his peroxided 'do and buff bod -- apparently

Elsinore Castle had quite a home gym in the basement. He even

gives himself some steamy sex scenes with Kate Winslet's

extraordinary Ophelia.

But it's obvious that anyone who stars in and directs himself

in a full-length Hamlet has little shortage in the

self-confidence category.

Four hours? That's long, no getting around it. And there's a

reason Hamlet is usually cut. A few scenes drag and others will

utterly confuse all but the Shakespearean scholar.

But that's easy to forgive: This Hamlet, for the most part,

zips along just fine, thanks to director and star Branagh's

exceedingly cinematic style.

Transported effectively into the 1800s, his is no stage-bound

adaptation. His camera often paces restlessly from room to room,

following and circling actors in long, continuous shots. It

looks terrific.

Interspersed are quick flashbacks, as in Ophelia's guilty

memories of intimacy with Hamlet, as well as many quick cutaways

from the action, as in chilling scenes of Fortinbras' troops

marching on the castle.

As an actor, Branagh acquits himself well. Some of his tantrums

seem a bit stagey; working better are the quieter moments and

the funny bits. Yes, it's still a tragedy about a melancholy

Dane, but often forgotten is how much humor it has amid all the

brooding and killing. …

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