To 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.