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 ...
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.