Archive for July 20th, 2012

by Allan Fish

(UK 1964 170m) DVD1

A prince among Danes

p  Peter Luke  d  Philip Saville  play  William Shakespeare  m  Richard Rodney Bennett  art  Paul Arnt Thompsen  cos  Olive Harris

Christopher Plummer (Hamlet), Robert Shaw (Claudius), June Tobin (Gertrude), Jo Maxwell Muller (Ophelia), Alec Clunes (Polonius), Michael Caine (Horatio), Dyson Lovell (Laertes), Roy Kinnear (gravedigger), Donald Sutherland (Fortinbras), Steven Berkoff (Lucianus), Peter Prowse (Marcellus), David Calderisi (Rosencrantz), Bill Wallis (Guildenstern), David Swift (player king), Philip Locke (Osric),

It was a broadcast that had entered into legend, the first Hamlet to actually be shot at Elsinore, in the equally legendary Kronborg castle.  It was a co-production between the BBC and Denmark’s national broadcaster and while there was never a doubt about the tapes surviving, we only ever got to saw clips of it.  Several cast members, including star Christopher Plummer and Michael Caine tried to get it released and eventually, finally, in 2011, it made it to DVD, but only across the water in the US.

There had been other takes on Hamlet on TV before it as well as numerous on the large screen, including the three preceding this entry in the text, one of which was made concurrently across the Baltic Sea in Soviet Russia.  On TV among many versions, one recalls Derek Jacobi in the 1980 BBC Shakespeare entry with Patrick Stewart and Claire Bloom as Claudius and Gertrude.  More recently, in 2009, Stewart once more donned the guise of the treacherous uncle in a film of the RSC’s production.  That had a Dane from David Tennant which both delighted and perhaps surprised those who only knew him as the Timelord from Gallifrey, but while one admires both those versions, the best small screen version remains this 1964 broadcast. (more…)

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