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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

USA 1997
produced by
Andrew Bellware, James J.J. Johnson, Claire M. Sommer for Braidwood Films
directed by Andrew Bellware
starring Gary Paul Wright, Ernest Abuba, Archer Martin, Pamela Stewart, Don Arrup, Richard Petrocelli, Britt Sady, William Rothlein, Elizabeth Rossa, Andrew Bellware, Michael Hunter, James J.J. Johnson
based on the play by William Shakespeare, music by Prague Spring

Hamlet

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Hamlet (Gary Paul Wright), Prince of Denmark is out to look for the murderer of his father at the court of King Claudius (ernest Abuba), his mother Gertrude's (Archer Martin) second husband. His behaviour however becomes more and more erratic, which makes many believe he has actually gone mad, others that his apparent madness is merely a ruse. Especially Hamlet's bride, Ophelia (Britt Sady), is mighty confused. King Claudius in the meantime, who has really killed Hamlet's father, sends Rosencrantz (Andrew Bellware) and Guildenstern (Elizabeth Rossa), two acquaintances of Hamlet's, to spy him out, and soon enough makes up plan after plan to rid himself of Hamlet - to no avail, at one instant one of his ruses actually costs the lives of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern rather than Hamlet's. Hamlet on the other hand is so intent to kill the murderer of his father that he at one point kills Polonius (Don Arrup), Ophelia's father, by mistake. This drives Ophelia insane, and she eventually kills herself. Claudius persuades Ophelia's brother Laertes to challenge Hamlet to a duel ... a duel that ends in a bloodbath nobody, not Hamlet, not Laertes (Richard Petrocelli), not Claudius, not even Gertrud survives ...

 

A condensed version of William Shakespeare's play that concentrates on Hamlet's (real or pretended) madness - and that's at least borderline mad itself: It's filmed entirely on a Fisher Price Pixelvision Camera, mostly in closeups (which make the actors appear like TV talking heads), on barren sets, with  the actors wearing street cloths. It also refuses to provide the audience with any kind of visual depth (a side effect of filming with a Fisher Price Pixelvision Camera, presumably) and reduces its cinematic language to almost nothing: There is no camera movement here, only some shots seem to be actually arranged, and the relative sameness of all the shots often makes it hard to understand where they are supposed to take place and so forth. As a result, if you are not familiar with Hamlet, you will have a hard time following the plot.

That all said though, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is hardly a trainwreck, actually it's quite an atmospheric film in its own right, a film that forms its cinematic restrictions into a cinematic language, and it is carried by some pretty good, often very off-beat performances, and the filmmakers lack of respect for his source material seems healthy, even.

Basically, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a fascinating experiment: Now I'm the first to admit I would not want to watch films like this for the rest of my life, but it's great to see someone at least try and make something out of it.

PS: To the best of my knowledge, filmmaker Andrew Bellware, who's still in the business today (2011) has never returned to the Fisher Price Pixelvision Camera.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD