Hamlet (2000)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 106:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Almereyda
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ethan Hawke
Kyle MacLachlan
Bill Murray
Julia Stiles
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Carter Burwell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, plenty!
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Hamlet (2000) is a post-modern, contemporary version of one of the world's most famous plays.

    The play, Hamlet, was written by William Shakespeare. As I wrote in my review of Henry V, "considering the incredible impact Shakespeare has had on British culture and language, (and therefore our culture and language), it is surprising how very little is known about him. One of the few things we know is that Shakespeare wrote many brilliant plays, and he remains one of the most influential writers in any genre. After the Bible, most of the common phrases in English can be attributed to his works." Many of those well-known phrases appear in Hamlet, arguably Shakespeare's most famous play.

    I will summarise the opening scenario of Hamlet briefly: Hamlet's father, the King of Denmark, has died. Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, has married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, within a month of the death. Claudius becomes the King of Denmark. Hamlet returns from university to attend his father's funeral, and his mother's marriage. Hamlet is very depressed and confused, but he might be in love with Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius, one of the courtiers. Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father who tells Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius. He asks Hamlet to avenge his murder. The rest of the plot concerns Hamlet struggling with his conscience, his grief, his anger, and his seeming inability to avenge his father's death.

    This version is set in present-day New York. Denmark is a mega-corporation, and Claudius (Kyle MacLachlan) its new CEO. There are good acting performances by Ethan Hawke as Hamlet, Sam Shepard as the Ghost, Diane Venora as Gertrude, Bill Murray as Polonias, Liev Schreiber as Laertes, and Julia Stiles as Ophelia. Hawke and Stiles are the real stand-out performances here, and Stiles is possibly the best Ophelia that I have seen on-screen. The film also boasts great art direction, and wonderful cinematography.

    There have been many film and television adaptations of this play, and many other movies loosely based on its themes, such as The Lion King. Recent popular film versions of Hamlet include Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version, and Franco Zeffirelli's 1990 version, starring Mel Gibson. The latter remains my personal favourite. Indeed, do we need another Hamlet? Does this version offer any new insights? One might argue that the contemporary setting and use of multimedia throughout the production makes this version more timely and accessible. However, the more modern its presentation becomes, the more out of place the language seems. In this version, some of the story and language no longer make any sense. The film, as one would expect, has cut a lot of scenes from the play out, including some of the better-known moments, such as Hamlet's scene with the gravedigger. While a lot about this production is very inventive, it's not anywhere as clever as Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is a little grainy throughout, which is probably due to the cheaper film stock used.

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the image, and the shadow detail are good throughout.

    The colour is excellent, although at times it appeared just slightly over-saturated, such as the rich reds at 63:00.

    There are no major problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts appear throughout, but they are mostly very small.

    The only subtitles present on this DVD are English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired, and they are accurate.

    This is a single-sided, single layered disc, which is acceptable for the content.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Apart from the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, there is also an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio option.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine on the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The musical score is credited to Carter Burwell, and it incorporates a variety of styles that suit the movie well.

    The surround presence and activity is excellent, and makes for an immersive viewing experience. The rears effectively and frequently provide ambience, for example the traffic at 30:22, as well as supporting the score throughout, such as at 19:10.

    The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively, such as when Ophelia jumps in the pool at 37:35.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are very slim.

Menu

    A very simple menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:49)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Hamlet (2000) was released on DVD in Region 1 in April 2001.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    I would call it even, as the transfer does not suffer the lack of a dual-layered disc.

Summary

    Hamlet (2000) is an ambitious movie which falls a little short in its delivery. If you already like the play, some great acting and excellent cinematography make this version worth seeing.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are really not worth mentioning.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, January 03, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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