2009: Gregory Doran
This film makes a great comparandum to the 2000 Michael Almereyda version of Hamlet. It is similarly transposed into a modern cultural idiom, marked with chrome-and-glass decor and severe architecture, the liberal deployment of video-surveillance equipment, guns, and the like, and yet it brings the play together rather than shredding it for the purposes of displaying ingenuity.
The linch-pin of the performance, of course, is David Tennant’s turn as Hamlet himself. Tennant, known to the wider world largely through his stint as Doctor Who, is one of the most electrifying and immediate actors in the Shakespearean tradition. As Hamlet, he brings forth his lines, some of them so familiar as to seem entirely outworn, as if they were just newly occurring to him. The performance is, I would argue, among the best. The only other one I can think of to equal it is Derek Jacobi’s version in the BBC series. Even Branagh’s Hamlet seems more contrived and less immediate.
Patrick Stewart returns to the role of Claudius once again, nearly thirty years after his BBC rendition of the part, playing against Derek Jacobi. The comparison of the two performances is enlightening.
The art direction, the colors, and every other aspect of this production, are all meticulously tuned, and they will play well on the high-resolution screen.
One could go on at some length about this play, but in the long run, one needs to see it to appreciate it. Highly recommended.
Barnardo: Ewen Cummins
Claudius; Ghost: Patrick Stewart
Cornelia: Andrea Harris
Dumbshow King: Samuel Dutton
Dumbshow Queen; Priest: Jim Hooper
Francisco; Fortinbras: Robert Curtis
Gertrude: Penny Downie
Gravedigger: Mark Hadfield
Guildenstern: Tom Davey
Hamlet: David Tennant
Horatio: Peter De Jersey
Lady-in-waiting: Riann Steele
Lady-in-waiting: Zoe Thorne
Laertes: Edward Bennett
Lucianus: Ricky Champ
Marcellus: Keith Osborn
Ophelia: Mariah Gale
Osric; Player Queen: Ryan Gage
Player King: John Woodvine
Polonius: Oliver Ford Davies
Reynaldo; Dumbshow Poisoner: David Ajala
Rosencrantz; Second Gravedigger: Sam Alexander
Voltemand: Roderick Smith