Hamlet (1990 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Franco Zeffirelli|
|Produced by||Bruce Davey
|Written by||Franco Zeffirelli
Christopher De Vore
|Based on||The play by William Shakespeare|
Helena Bonham Carter
|Music by||Ennio Morricone|
|Editing by||Richard Marden|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||December 19, 1990 (limited)
January 18, 1991
|Running time||130 minutes|
Hamlet is a 1990 drama film based on the Shakespearean tragedy of the same name directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Mel Gibson as the eponymous character. The film also features Glenn Close, Alan Bates, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Dillane, and Nathaniel Parker. It is notable for being the first film from Icon Productions, a company co-founded by Gibson.
- Mel Gibson as Prince Hamlet
- Glenn Close as Queen Gertrude
- Alan Bates as King Claudius
- Paul Scofield as the ghost of King Hamlet
- Ian Holm as Polonius
- Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia
- Stephen Dillane as Horatio
- Nathaniel Parker as Laertes
- Michael Maloney and Sean Murray as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
- Trevor Peacock as The Gravedigger
- Pete Postlethwaite as the Player King
- Christopher Fairbank as the Player Queen
- John McEnery as Osric
- Richard Warwick as Bernardo
- Christien Anholt as Marcellus
The cast includes three actors - Paul Scofield, Alan Bates, and Ian Holm - who had themselves played Hamlet on stage or film. It also features two actors - Stephen Dillane and Michael Maloney - who went on to play Hamlet onstage.
Adaptation and interpretation 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2010)|
Film scholar Deborah Cartmell has suggested that Zeffirelli's Shakespeare films are appealing because they are "sensual rather than cerebral", an approach by which he aims to make Shakespeare "even more popular". To this end, he cast Gibson — then famous for the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon films — in the title role. Cartmell also notes that the text is drastically cut, but with the effect of enhancing the roles of the women.
J. Lawrence Guntner has suggested that Zeffirelli's cinematography borrows heavily from the action film genre that made Gibson famous, noting that its average shot length is less than six seconds. In casting Gibson, the director has been said to have made the star's reputation part of the performance, encouraging the audience "to see the Gibson that they have come to expect from his other films". Indeed, Gibson was cast after Zeffirelli watched his character, Martin Riggs, contemplate suicide in Lethal Weapon. The fight between Hamlet and Laertes is an example of using Gibson's experience in action movies; Gibson handily depicts Hamlet as an experienced fencer.
Critical response 
Hamlet was well received by most critics and currently holds a 76% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus, "It may lack some of the depth and complexity of the play, but Mel Gibson and Franco Zeffirelli make a surprisingly successful team."
Noted critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, calling Mel Gibson's portrayal of the Danish Prince "a strong, intelligent performance." Caryn James of The New York Times praised Zeffirelli's "naturalistic, emotionally-charged" direction and also commended Gibson's "visceral" performance, describing it as "strong, intelligent and safely beyond ridicule."
- Keyishian, pp.72-81
- "Hamlet (1990)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (18 January 1991). "Hamlet (1990)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- James, Caryn (19 January 1991). "Hamlet (1990)". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Travers, Peter (18 January 1991). "Hamlet". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "The 63rd Academy Awards (1991) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-02.
- Hamlet at the Internet Movie Database
- Shooting script available via the University of Birmingham's Virtual Manuscript Room.