A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this compelling interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, set in modern times, is filled with scheming, betrayal, violence, and intrigue. Like most Shakespearean tragedies, this tale ends with more than a few deaths and little to leave viewers upbeat. On the positive side, it's thoughtfully done and could whet teens' appetite for more of the Bard.
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What's the story?
Still mourning his father’s death, Hamlet (David Tennant), crown prince of Denmark, is dismayed when his uncle Claudius (Patrick Stewart) marries his mother and assumes the throne in one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies. The troubled prince is even more shocked when he’s visited by his late father’s ghost, who reveals that his death was no accident and demands that Hamlet seek revenge upon the killer: Claudius. The news pushes him over the edge into madness (or does it?) as Hamlet crafts a plan to expose his uncle’s betrayal, a plan that will have tragic and unexpected results.
Is it any good?
This lengthy film is worth watching all the way to terrible tragic finale. In what was originally a TV movie, this classic tale is transported to modern times by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Here, the complicated revenge plots and counterplots employ swords and daggers as well as pistols. These modern touches make the scenes look familiar, but the language remains the same. Some viewers may have struggled with Shakespeare’s beautiful poetry in school, but it leaps off the screen when delivered by these powerful performers. Tennant is especially fun to watch as he mugs for the camera and alarms other characters while seemingly in the throes of madness. His goofy faces are tinged with despair, revealing the depths of Hamlet’s misery.
That’s important because Hamlet is not only one of Shakespeare’s most famous stories, it’s also one of his longest, and this production clocks in at just over three hours. If viewers start getting distracted, feel free to take a break then come back for the exciting conclusion.
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