- 2000 Sundance Film Festival
With Hamlet, director Michael Almereyda takes his rightful place among a handful of filmmakers who are defined by their body of work. His adaptation of the classic Shakespearean tragedy further establishes him as a consummate risk taker and bold innovator, one who constantly explores technology while challenging old forms of cinematic expression.
The setting is New York City in the year 2000, providing an instant entree to a new generation of filmgoers. In the title role, Ethan Hawke gives a performance that is both troubling and melancholic. His Hamlet is born of an alienation and angst not unfamiliar to young audiences. Denmark is not a kingdom but a huge corporation, and the ghost of his father appears to him on the terrace of his sterile metropolitan hotel. The famous "to be or not to be" speech is delivered under the glare of fluorescent lights in the aisles of a video store. The dialogue is in authentic Shakespearean verse, but juxtaposing it against contemporary landscapes gives the audience something tangible to relate to. The cast is perfection and the cinematography eerie and moody. It seems as if once again, this version of the classic tragedy resonates with its true meaning: one man's youthful idealism destroyed by the knowledge of his world's corruption.
Hamlet has been produced for the stage and screen thousands of times. This version will be remembered as it should be: as a powerful story possessing the ability to amaze and enlighten a new audience, using the words of one of the past millennium's greatest writers
— John Cooper
- Production Designer
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