Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
March 2018

What first attracted my attention to this particular film was its statement that it was the first, and so far only, time that this particular Shakespearean drama had been filmed on the actual site where most of the action was supposed to have taken place. (I found out later that this was not true; there had been a silent film version done there in 1910, but hardly anyone at all remembers it.) But it was first made for TV version to have been filmed on location instead of in studio. So it caught my eye, because how cool would that be, to see a Shakespearean play performed on, at, and in the place where it is set? And you know that I just had to buy it (thank you, Amazon!), anxiously await its arrival, and then - finally! - drop it into the DVD player tray and hit "Play." And so it is that this month, Da'ud Bob reviews for you 1964's BBC made for TV production of William Shakespeare's tragedy, entitled Hamlet at Elsinore.

Starring Christopher ("Captain Von Trapp") Plummer in the title role as Hamlet, Robert ("Red Grant" in the 007 flick From Russia With Love) Shaw as Claudius, King of Denmark, Alec Clunes as Polonius, Michael Caine as Horatio, June Tobin as Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, Jo Maxwell Muller as Ophelia, Dyson Lovell as Laertes, Roy Kinnear (father of actor Rory Kinnear) as the Gravedigger, David Calderisi as Rosenkrantz, Bill Wallis Guildenstern, and Donald Sutherland as Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, you should already be pretty familiar with the plot of this tale of murder, intrigue, feigned madness, attempted murder, poisoning, and more murder, where pretty much all of the primary characters have died by the end of the film. Though I did recently read a story about a woman who, not knowing much about Shakespeare, and having recently seen Hamlet, was asked what she thought about it. She replied that she didn't care much for it, as it seemed to mostly be a bunch of famous quotes loosely strung together. (Not understanding, of course, that these "quotes" were not at all famous until after Shakespeare wrote them down. Sometimes I just weep for the state of education today.)

Good points: The tapestries and paintings hung about the walls of the castle. Some of the Elizabethan clothing and armor. The ship's skiff. Elsinore as both stage and backdrop. The fencing choreography. It's a decent enough production, if occasionally a bit over-acted. Firing the old cannons (though not as old as Shakespearean times) outside the castle during the closing credits.

Bad points: Too many close-ups, making many parts of the movie feel like it's just talking heads. (I do try to remember that television screens were much smaller in 1964, and so less background clutter was sometimes better for the audience at home to see and understand what was happening on the screen.) The quality of the sound was probably okay for 1960s television; not so much nowadays. The camera movements are sometimes a bit shaky. (This was, however, eleven years before the invention of the steadicam.) The transfer to digital has some issues (dark spots on the screen in places which are distracting). Hamlet asking Horatio and a guard to "Swear by my sword" while holding a dagger. Ophelia's free-flowing hair. Some of the costuming. And occasionally there is too much yelling in an attempt to add extra feeling to the lines.

Zero breasts. One-half gallon of blood. Six dead bodies (plus one more "dead" body during the play within a play). Sword fu. Rapier fu. Dirt fu. Poisoned rapier fu. Poisoned drink fu. Waves roll. Hamlet rolls on the floor. Gratuitous ocean crashing on the shore. Academy Award to Alec Clunes as Polonius for giving a lot of feeling while reciting his lines. A mere 37 on the Vomit Meter. 2 stars. Da'ud Bob says, "If you only know the older Christopher Plummer, you get to see the younger hottie that he was (and Michael Caine, too). Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!


Opened February 16, 2018, but didn't stay long.

After losing the love of his life to a cruel Philistine prince, a young Hebrew with Supernatural strength defends his people, sacrificing everything to avenge his love, his people, and his God. Starring Taylor James in the title role, with Billy Zane, Rutger Hauer, Lindsday Wagner, and Caitlin Leahy as Delilah.

Another movie that I suspect did not need to be remade, a suspicion shared by a number of other reviewers, apparently, many of whom panned it.


Robin Hood

Opens September 21, 2018

"A gritty take on the classic Robin Hood story." Starring Taron Egerton in the title role, with Jamie Dornan, Paul Anderson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Foxx (as Little John!), and Eve Hewson.

Yet another movie that I don't think needed to be remade (again and again and again!)

No official website yet.

Mary Queen of Scots

November 2, 2018

Mary Stuart's attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution. Starring Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, Saoirse Ronan in the title role, and David Tennant (as John Knox).

Oh, look! Another remake!

No official website yet.

The Kid Who Would Be King

Now February 14, 2019

"A band of kids embark on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace." Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Patrick Stewart as Merlin, Tom Taylor.

No official website yet.

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