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Mainstream - Hamlet - The Royal Shakespeare Company Production of

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Hamlet - The Royal Shakespeare Company Production of
David Tennant, Patrick Stewart
Directed by Gregory Doran
BBC - Warner Home Entertainment 2010
180 minutes

This Hamlet DVD is simply brilliant. David Tennant and Patrick Stewart are great as Hamlet and Claudius, his uncle. Director Gregory Doran lifted the Royal Shakespeare Production of Hamlet and put it in a modern looking Elsinore Castle whose many reflective surfaces allow the characters glimpses of themselves. The most modern touch is the occasional use of a CCTV camera the characters are aware of. This indirectly influences the audience's perception of the play.

David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek) are excellent, especially Tennant's Hamlet whose controlled but energized psychosis is fascinating. Both are however almost upstaged by Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius. Polonius is the verbose -  comic character and Davies portrayal akin to that of an absent-minded professor is a joy to watch.

The one weak point to this Royal Shakespeare Company Production of Hamlet DVD is the lighting sometimes makes the background look gauzy.

A scorecard is useful to follow Hamlet. Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. Two guards see a ghost while on night patrol and tell their boss who tells Horatio. Horatio goes to check for himself and does indeed see a ghost. The ghost is of Hamlet's recently deceased father. Hamlet then sees the ghost who tells him he was murdered by Claudius who then married Hamlet's mother and is now King. Hamlet decides to exact revenge.

Other characters include Polonius, Claudius' counselor, and his son and daughter Laertes and Ophelia. Hamlet and Ophelia are a bit of an item. Hamlet uses the occasion of a theatre troupe visiting the castle to get at the truth. Claudius figures out Hamlet is out to get him and schemes his own schemes.

Then follow Shakespeare's usual misunderstanding, misrepresentations, and deaths.

Special features on this Hamlet DVD include Behind the Scenes, a commercial for the Royal Shakespeare Company, audio commentary with the director and two producers, and subtitles

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