Appreciating Hamlet

Screen shot 2013-02-02 at 4.36.30 PMTo be honest, I added the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet (2009) to the top of my Netflix queue because I’m a fan of David Tennant.  Maybe it’s  more truthful to say that I added it because I was a fan of Dr. Who, as I had never seen him in anything else.  Now I’m a fan of David Tennant.

I’ve always appreciated Hamlet, the origins of this being somewhat inexplicable.  I randomly picked up the play in 8th grade–not having read Shakespeare before–tackling the language on my own, because I found the story fascinating.  From that experience, I was sold.  In college, it wasn’t my Shakespeare class that I liked the best, it was the class I took that focused entirely on Hamlet.  I’ve watched Kenneth Branagh and Mel Gibson portray him in film.  (Let’s be honest: The Mel Gibson version was a disturbing waste of 2+ hours.)  I’ve read John Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Seriously, what’s not to like?  Murder.  Intrigue.  A ghost.  Poison.  Insanity.  Broken hearts.  A man killing his brother, marrying his queen, and being hated by his nephew/step-son– foolishly thinking he’ll get away with it.

David Tennant plays that angry, tortured nephew/step-son brilliantly.  And as an added bonus, Patrick Stewart is a delightfully conniving Claudius.

Yes, this is as much of a time investment as the Kenneth Branagh version, but is equally worth the viewing.  My advice: Watch Branagh for accuracy.  Watch Tennant for a refreshing modern twist.

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