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October 22, 1999 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-22

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1., uh M chika 'air s Hr ?@ "j'g'ui ":p : '^ 1 ^ *u''k 'a'" 4~'a m ;A r yi '°



This prince is sweet

-- _ .9


Continued from Page 68
story of revenge and sexuality, giv-
ing it the scope and grandeur the
exquisite language and setting sug-
gest. If you don't know the story -
and you should be paying more
attention if you don't - it involves a
crown prince who returns home to
find his father dead and his mother
marrying his killer. The killer-
turned-king just happens to be his
father's brother.
Not only does Branagh. adapt and
direct "Hamlet," but he also stars as
the angst-filled prince. Branagh not
only captures the bleak and manic
exterior of the legendary character,
but finds the acidic humor that
keeps Hamlet going.
Branagh cast the movie with an
eye not only towards the eccentric,
but also with the inspiration that
non-traditional Shakespearean
actors could handle the weighty sub-
ject matter.
In a pre-"Titanic" role, Kate
Winslet shines as Ophelia, making
the transition from strength to insan-
ity seamlessly. Though Branagh is
almost 20 years older than the young
starlet, you'll never think for a sec-
ond that these two shouldn't have
been paired together onscreen. Julie
Christie is equally stellar as the
queen who thinks she's found a new
lease on life with her autumnal
But the best part of "Hamlet" is
Derek Jacobi's remarkable perfor-
mace as Claudius. Not only was
Jacobi's interpretation the best per-
formance of '96, but it's one of the
great cinematic performances, com-
pletely reinventing a pivotal charac-
ter too often marginalized by the

sprawling presence of Hamlet him-
Jacobi doesn't play Claudius as a
one-note villain, but shapes the
character into both a revolting and
sympathetic creature. But Jacobi
will never let you forget just how
bad a guy Claudius is, as he seems
to reluctantly revel in his twisted
The most inspired casting deci-
sions are Charlton Heston, Robin
Williams and Billy Crystal in small-
. er roles. Each handles the material
much better than the more respected
Jack Lemmon, who brings down the
movie in every scene he's in.
Lemmon is the only hang-up in the
film's machinery, because it feels
like he doesn't know what the hell
he's doing in a Shakespearean
The beauty of the sets comple-
ments the strong writing and acting.
Elsinore Castle is a glowing white
edifice that conceals the dark
secrets living within it. Not one prop
or design seems out of place.
Instead, each only makes you realize
that this is how "Hamlet" should
always be staged -on a grand scale
with an outer beauty covering the
gnarled subtext.
While many directors have tried
to make "Hamlet" work onscreen,
only one has been completely
sucessful. Kenneth Branagh didn't
take away from the play, but he sure-
ly added to it. He didn't strip it of all
its striking complexities -- from
Ophelia's losing her mind to
Hamlet's gravest moment of dark-
ness - but worked with them.
Branagh's "Hamlet" only lends sup-
port to the notion that if
Shakespeare was alive today he
would be a screenwriter.




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Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Quit fantasizing about your mother, Mel, and watch someone do a real "Hamlet."

" - ,.. ..

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