Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Those of you who know me, know that I am totally* (toh-ta-wee) in love with Kenneth Branagh. He proves that he is an absolute genius by starring in and directing this magnificent 1996 film version of Hamlet. This wonderful interpretation brings this Shakespeare play (which also happens to be my favorite) to life and to the 21st century.

It is thrillingly entertaining, holding the integrity of the work, without becoming too Hollywoodized. Branagh, himself, is a handsome and powerful Hamlet. Okay, his hair is bleached blond, but it suits him well and, besides, he is supposed to be a Dane in this roll. The versatile Derek Jacobi is a dashing Claudius, meticulously manicured for this studly role. The gorgeous Julie Christie came out of retirement
and does an outstanding and delightful job in the role of Gertrude. Kate Winslet portrays a perfect blend of strength and sweetness as Ophelia. One of my favorites, Brian Blessed is a gallantly haunting ghost. There are so many incredible actors with small roles in this film, including Richard Attenborough, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Jack Lemon, Charlton Heston, Gerard Depardieu and Judi Dench, (whew) among many others.

Branagh insisted that this stunning piece of cinematography be shot in high resolution 65mm, which gives the
film a sweeping feel, like David Lean's 1960's epics. Part of the movie was shot at the stunning monumental Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, the birthplace of Winston Churchill and home of the Duke of Marlborough, who actually has a cameo role in the film.

If you are a fan of Shakespeare, like I am, you will love, love, love this film. You will have to own a copy for your movie collection. And if Shakespeare is not your particular cup of tea, you will still love it for the fabulous acting, sets and costumes. This one gets three thumbs up in my little book of manor favorites. Oh, and one more thing, the run time for this film is 242 minutes because it is the full text version of Shakespeare's
play, but so worth it. Every word is a gem.

* I just watched Moulin Rouge


  1. This is a great verison of Hamlet! Haven't seen it in ages but would be great to look for tonight at the library...Thanks for reminding of this... I love Kenneth B. in "Dead Again"...which I need to watch again very soon...

  2. What a cast! 242 minutes... I'll have to watch it spread out over a few evenings! But, I do love Hamlet.

  3. Hmm, about time I watched again - will add it to my Netflix Queue as you gave such a grand review. Thanks Willow.

    Must try your blackberry muffins - look delish!

    Do you think we should introduce your hen and my rooster - I love fluffy yellow baby chicks, don't you? LOL!!!!!

  4. The 1966 David Warner Hamlet at Stratford was my all time favorite.
    I was at boarding school about 25 miles from Stratford and we used to go for school outings.
    I saw
    Vanessa Redgrave
    Ian Holm
    Ian McKellan
    Judi Dench
    Elizabeth Spriggs
    Hugh Griffith etc etc. IN THE FLESH as a teenager - aren't I the lucky one..
    Did you see the Branagh "Othello"?
    odd to see a blond IAGO.

  5. Mary, yes, I think we need some cute little fluffies, or at least some eggs.

  6. Elizabeth, I am totally green with envy!! Those are all my faves and you saw them live and in their youthful glory? You are the lucky girl. Yes, I've also seen Othello and it's fabulous, too.

  7. Rebecca, I just picked up a copy of "Dead Again" at the little used DVD store I frequent. It is great, isn't it?!

  8. Your absolutely correct about that version. It's a winner. I also am partial to his take on Much Ado About Nothing. I find that one of the most perfect summer movies ever!
    "and then there was a star danced, and under that was I born." Ahhhh!

  9. Pamela, I really like his "Much Ado", too. You are right, that is a perfect summer movie and I haven't seen it in ages. Adding it to my list...

  10. Well, crapo! I missed the muffins.

    Thanks for your visit to my blog this morning. I hope you enjoyed my post today showing the baby rabbit eating the hibiscus flower.

    I am now taking a diminishing dose of steroids for my Rheumatoid Arthritis pain and it works. I am pain free. I believe the chemotherapy drug is spelled "Methotrexate" that is used to treat a lot of things from cancer to arthritis and it has side effects that are troubling. So I need to talk to my doctor about it before I take it. Just missing a dose can be a real nightmare.

    Anyway, I wanted you to know I stopped-in to repay your visit and comment with mine.

    I enjoyed reading your blog post for today and I thought your presentation was excellent.

    I don't know if you like to read or not but if you do this place is amazing.

    I just got my first shipment of used books from Strand's bookstore in New York City, yesterday. They have 18 miles of used books. Think about that. Anyway, they got here and I am totally happy with those I chose to read. I had to start out by just choosing a category, like photography, and go from there. I don't know how in the world they can keep track of so many books.

    Look up Strand bookstore or copy and paste the URL here:

  11. Abe, I would be in "used book heaven" in Strand's. They wouldn't be able to get me out.

    Thanks for the link. I'm popping over there right now.

  12. I've not seen this version of Hamlet but I have seen Branagh's Much Ado and Othello and really enjoyed both of them. I'll put Hamlet on my Netflix.

    I saw your tiny aside about Moulin Rouge! I LOVE that movie..toh-ta-wee fluff but adorably so!

  13. I bought books just like I would buy from any bookstore. I ordered three and they came and are in excellent condition.

  14. Stevie, yes, toh-ta-wee!! (I wondered if anyone would get that) Moulin Rouge is so cute, fun and artistic. I must work up a blog to post soon...

  15. Thanks, Abe, I saved the Strand's site and will keep it in mind next time I'm looking for a used book, which will proably be later on tonight! ;)

  16. Ah, I enjoyed Branagh in Othello so I can imagine he'd be wonderful as Hamlet. Adding it to my ever expanding NetFlix list -- Thanks!

  17. I'll have to check that one out before long.

  18. Haven't seen this version. The last Hamlet I saw had Mel Gibson as the lead. Odd.

  19. Willow, Moulin Rouge is one movie that I watch over and over. I sing along, I swoon over Ewan McGregor, I adore the crazy artsyness of the set, and most of all love the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec visual references. I would blog about it but I get kind of embarrassing when I talk about it! hehe


  20. Thanks for your visit to my Brookville Daily Photo blog this morning. I hope you enjoyed my post today showing the baby rabbit eating the poppy leaves.

    I also wrote a longer piece on my Better Blog Writing about my Mom and Dad. See if you like the writing style. It is popular among better blogs.

    Last evening, it was almost dark, when one of the baby rabbits came up to our patio door and wanted in. I was flabbergasted but only took a picture and didn't leave him come in the house.

    I wanted you to know I stopped-in to repay your visit and leave a you a comment.

    I enjoyed reading your blog post for today and I thought your photography was excellent.

  21. I'm a huge Kenneth Branagh fan, as well as Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi and I love Depardieu! I've never watched it, so I'll have to try to see it. I'm glad you wrote about it, because I'm not always a fan of putting Shakespeare into a modern setting, but sometimes it does work. And I've loved all of his other Shakespeare movies, so I trust him to do it well! (When I visited Italy, I spent a night in the villa that featured in "Much Ado About Nothing." I watch that one any chance I get!)

  22. Also a big Leonard Cohen fan here! ;)

  23. Stevie, I watch Moulin Rouge over and over again, too. The whole film is eyecandy and I sing along, too. Ewan McGregor makes me melt. And I always laugh til I cry. I will work up a nice blog soon...if only just for us. :)

  24. Abe, I did read the post about your parents and absolutely loved it.

    Soooo, your writing style is popular amoung better blogs, daaaaaaling? ;)

  25. A Brush, you will love this film!! The costumes and set style are
    19th century Victorian with a keen eye to sleekness and color shades. It's marvelous. Lots of blues and grays against browns.

  26. time to waste, I am off to the Library. I can hardly wait to see this...what a fantastic cast!

  27. LOVE Kenneth Branagh AND Mr Jacobi who I totally fell for during the WNET airing of I, Claudius....


  28. Must admit I stayed away from that Hamlet - will have to see it now. But I loved the fun "Much Ado...". I first saw KB in The Balkan Trilogy with his former spouse & later read Manning's books - he did a superb job. I then saw all his stuff & read his autobiography that he wrote when he was not even 30(?) Did you ever see "Rosencrantz and Gilderstern are Dead" - that's my favorite Hamlet (although not quite) movie.

  29. tash, I know! He is so talented and accomplished so much at such an early age. You are right, he is superb.

  30. I am a huge fan of this version of Hamlet too Willow. Much better than Mel Gibson's, far to much running around the ramparts...!

    Having said that, in Gibson's version of the 'Yorick' scene, Trevor Peacock plays the grave digger superbly...see Youtube.

    Trivia alert.......did you know that Trevor Peacock wrote the hit Mrs Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter, for Herman Hermits?

    Stay so well.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)