By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
A thrilling version of the Bard's classic tragedy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Evil deeds do not go unrewarded in this classic Shakespearean tragedy where almost everyone dies in the end. Unfortunately, some innocents also die as collateral damage, as a terrible crime sweeps up everyone in its path.
Positive Role Models
Few of the characters stand out as good examples, as they are all motivated by selfish desires to pursue actions that range from venal to evil. Hamlet plots to kill his uncle in revenge, while his uncle commits murder out of a greedy desire for the throne. Other characters also lie and scheme in pursuit of power, vengeance, or due to anger.
Violence & Scariness
Some intense arguments, and several scenes feature fights involving daggers, swords, or handguns. Several characters die.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few bawdy discussions, though the Shakespearean phrasing makes them unlikely to be offensive. Indeed, the words will probably go over the heads of most young viewers.
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No words that will be considered risque to 21st century viewers.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some social drinking.
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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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Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
A Mildly Disturbing Masterpiece
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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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about madness. Was Hamlet truly crazy, or was he faking it as part of a scheme to expose the king?
What do you think about this production? Does it hold up after being transported into modern times? Why do these classic stories continue to be reworked?
- On DVD or streaming: May 4, 2010
- Cast: David Tennant, Patrick Stewart
- Director: Gregory Doran
- Studio: BBC
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 182 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 2, 2022
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