Parent reviews for Hamlet (1996)

Common Sense says

Shakespeare's great tragedy -- all of it.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews
Parent Written bycrankylibrarian January 3, 2014

Branagh's greatest film of Shakespeare's greatest play

You might want to screen this as a 2-parter, (the movie was originally shown with an intermission). A few unexpected touches: the ghost scene resembles a horror movie, Ophelia and Hamlet get it on, Polonius dallies with a prostitute, and the final duel turns into a bloody battle. Branagh is of course wonderful, and he has cast several former Hamlets in supporting roles, including the superb Derek Jacobi as Claudius. Great work all round from Julie Christie, Billy Crystal, Richard Briers and Michale Maloney, but the Jacobi/Branagh scenes stand out. Kate Winslet makes an especially touching and vulnerable Ophelia.

This title contains:

Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byTsion January 29, 2011

Epic!

This version of Shakespeare's classic is truly marvelous to behold. Kenneth Branagh adapts every line of Shakespeare's HAMLET into a grand and engaging four-hour spectacle filled with drama and instantly recognizable stars. It really is a lovely film, and I as a parent would be thrilled if my kid were mature and intelligent enough to express interest in it. The movie has some heavy thematic material, including insanity and murder, but nothing is ever shown graphically. Some people are stabbed with swords on-screen, but it is very quick and never graphic. We briefly see a pool of blood surrounding a dead man's body, but it won't be disturbing for anyone but young kids. There is no profane language or drug use. Sex is extremely minor. It is suggested through flashbacks that Hamlet and Ophelia had sex, but nothing graphic is ever shown. We see them kissing in bed (and see their bare legs and his chest) in momentary cuts that are literally less than a second long. All in all, this is an amazing movie that embodies everything most recent movies lack: intelligence, maturity, inspiring messages, and plot-driven emotion.

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Adult Written bynduns February 5, 2010

Best adaptation to date

The problem I have with most Shakespear-based films is that they either remove scenes/dialogue or try to modernize it. This, however, is the closest we will EVER get to the original play, which is very impressive. Granted, that also makes this one incredibly long, but you can tell they really tried their hardest with this one. It is kinda odd seeing Robin Williams in this, but nonetheless, this is the best version of the film to expose high-school students to as it got everything right.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byhamlet April 9, 2008

The GREATEST Screen Version Of William Shakespeare's Tragedy.

Of course, most people have their own favourite film versions of "Hamlet," William Shakespeare's classic tragedy about love, murder, revenge and family loyalty, that was first performed at the Globe Theater in 1603. Classic tragedy, right up there with "Romeo & Juliet," "Richard III," "Othello,"
"Julius Caesar," "Macbeth" and "King Lear." Personally, Kenneth Branagh's 4 hour version of the play is the greatest, next to Sir Laurence Olivier's 2/1/2 hour film version, produced in 1948. The all-star cast is terrific (featuring Academy Award winners Julie Christie, Charlton Heston, Sir John Gielgud, Jack Lemmon, Richard Attenborough and Robin Williams, among others; Gielgud, Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh have each played Hamlet over 300 times on stage). The costumes (as per the opulent 19th-century setting) and sets are visually lush. There is nothing bad about this production. It's clear that Branagh spared no expense to make this movie. At $18 million, it was worth every penny.

As far as letting children see this film, I would highly recommend it for ages 10 and above, due to the mature subject matter (death, lost love, revenge, etc), the archaic English, some non-explicit, but suggesstive, love scenes between Ophelia (Kate Winslet) and Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh) and the 4 hour running time.

The film has recieved a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for violent images and some sexuality, but I rate it PG for some violence.
Adult Written byInuzukaKana October 10, 2019

The Best Version Everyone Needs To Watch

It's the only good film adaption of Hamlet I've ever watched. It's the truest, most beautifully portrayed, and wonderfully acted version, and it ruined all other versions of Hamlet for me because it was so perfect. Just a warning on the note of sex; there's a scene where Hamlet and Ophelia are obviously getting it on, but you don't see any nudity. The scene is repeated twice; once near the beginning and once near the end. It's fairly easy to skip or explain but if you let your kids watch it they might be twelve or older. If you skip, kids well under twelve can watch and enjoy this. I watched it when I was eight and loved it. Violence is fine, everything else is fine. It's beautiful, funny, and sad. I love it.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Sexy stuff
Adult Written byhenryg2 January 13, 2018

Very faithful Hamlet

This is the most faithful adaptation of Shakespeare's play currently available. Branagh takes very few interpretive risks with the text, unlike Gibson, Jacobi, and Tennant, but while this does not make for an exciting re-reading of the play, it does provide a fantastic "baseline" to evaluate other productions.

One heads-up: If you are a teacher intending to show this to a class, please be aware that there is some brief nudity in Act IV (the second half of the movie) in a very brief flashback scene in which Hamlet and Ophelia are shown naked on a bed kissing. You do not see frontal nudity, rear ends, or genitalia. More problematic is that during Ophelia's mad scene, when she is referring to "Young men will do't if they come to it," she thrusts her hips into Claudius and then lies on the floor raising and lowering her hips in a manner suggestive of intercourse. Although I personally do not find this offensive as a viewer, I have to be sensitive to the values of my community, and I strongly advise teachers who want to show this to preview this film and make sure that it's acceptable for your school, students, and district. It's an excellent production.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byLDMommaofthree May 14, 2013

Not for children of any age. Nudity!

I let my children watch this movie because the review on this site said there was no nudity. TRAGIC! There was nudity. And, it came without any warning. No child should watch this movie. It is only an adult movie. Although the filming is beautiful, and the movie extremely well done, Hamlet is seen in the memory of Ophellia as laying together nakid. This happens a couple of times and near the beginning when the brother is giving her counsel. As well, in a scene after the King ghost comes, there is a woman in the room dressed like a prostitute. At this point, I turned off the movie. My hope from the review on this site was that I would be able to anticipate a love scene, it should have been said that it is a flash in her memory. I am very grieved my children saw the beginning of this movie. Had I been able to anticipate it and fast forward, I wouldn't have minded, but this was so upsetting!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Adult Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008

One of the finest films ever made.

We watch it every New Year's. Hamlet always teaches new lessons. My boys loved it! Transcendent. luminous. Change your plans and see it tonight!
Adult Written bybranagh April 9, 2008