I’ve been looking forward to seeing this again for far too long. I remember seeing this movie when it first came out at the cinema and when asked about it by my English teacher, the main thing I had to say for it was, I was surprised by how easy it was to follow despite the complete lack of real adaptation involved on Branagh’s part (I didn’t mention the fact that realising it was where The Lion King came from helped me no end, lol) – like, that was the point, to bring the full text to the screen for the first time. In addition to the 70mm film, those were the film’s main selling points. It’s kind of odd that Branagh was nominated for an Oscar for the movie, I’m assuming the only reason he lost was that he really didn’t do much in that department, lol.
Anyway, this really is Kenneth Branagh at his best – all his familiar tricks work without exception here and he is perfect as Hamlet … young enough to make the early stuff work (I have to say I love the Ethan Hawke version for that though – does anyone do angst better than he?), but also when he returns from England. Patrick Doyle’s score is fantastic, the set design and costume designs sublime (now I can’t wait to finally switch to HD and see it that way). I love the way it switches between the group scenes and soliloquies, so many times a character being left alone in a room and just buckling under a sigh, “Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt …” being among my favourites.
There really isn’t a lot more for me to say about it. It’s one of those unique things, I find, you’ll either appreciate or not. Hamlet is my favourite Shakespeare play, and Branagh truly revels in the words here – in his speeches particularly, you can see with every line how in love he is, like he’s still discovering more with every word he repeats. The casting, the design, the music, it’s really all just gloss one what is already a work of perfection. I certainly won’t be waiting so long before watching it again.