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Hamlet

Year: 1996
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Kenneth Branagh , Derek Jacobi , Julie Christie , Kate Winslet , Richard Briers , Nicholas Farrell, Michael Maloney, Brian Blessed , Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Gerard Depardieu, Charlton Heston, Rosemary Harris , Judi Dench , John Gielgud , Rufus Sewell, Ken Dodd .
Set Locations:
Scotland: Locations used include Dunottar Castle in Aberdeenshire

"To be or not to be, that is the question". Who could have been better in modern theatre and cinema to deliver that most famous of lines than Kenneth Branagh? Branagh single-handedly brought Shakespeare right back to the forefront of modern minds by directing, starring in and writing the screenplay for this 1996 production of one of the bard's most famous plays.

The film also co stars Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, Kate Winslet, Richard Briers and Nicholas Farrell. Such was the power of this adaptation of Hamlet that it soon eclipsed Hollywood and Mel Gibson's version of Hamlet, made only six years earlier. Branagh had previously been playing the title role in Adrian Noble 's stage version of the play with the Royal Shakespeare Company and his film version is said to be heavily influenced by that stage production.

One of the things that sets this film apart from previous versions is that it is an unabridged version, meaning that it runs for a little over four hours! This is possibly one reason why, despite the widespread acclaim received by the film from the vast majority of critics, it was not a huge box office success.

The classic tale tells of Prince Hamlet who returns home, only to find his father murdered and his mother marrying his uncle. The ghost of his father appears to Hamlet to tell him that his uncle is in fact the murderer. Meanwhile war is brewing and the plot thickens into one of the most intriguingly complicated stories ever told as Hamlet gradually works towards revenge against his uncle.

This version is set in the 19th century and most of the external scenes are filmed using Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire as Elsinore Castle. This magnificent structure is open to the public and attracts large numbers of visitors every year. Shakespeare in general still continues to be a big tourist pull. Stratford-upon-Avon , birthplace of William Shakespeare, attracts about three million visitors every year. The area retains much of its old world charm from the days of Shakespeare. The house he was born in still stands and is open to the public. The town centre is full of original medieval wood frame buildings and there are, of course, many theatres dedicated to Shakespeare and his work.

Fans of Shakespeare should also visit Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, a reconstruction of the famous London theatre where Shakespeare first aired his works. The new theatre stands about 750 feet from the site of the original.

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