The 10 Best Hamlet-Based Movies, According to Rotten Tomatoes

Like any Shakespearean classic, Hamlet has been retold many times on the big screen, but the best version captures the character's vengeance.

Shakespeare's classics, such as Romeo and Juliet, are the best stories to receive the film's treatment, but the powerful tragedy that is difficult to explain is Hamlet. Shakespeare's explicit themes of revenge, love, and betrayal, along with elegant and passionate dialogue, define Hamlet's epic story. "To be or not to be" is Hamlet's signature line, and it's been said over the years by such well-known actors as Kenneth Branagh and Laurence Olivier. These words seem simple, but there is a profound meaning behind them, because they convey Hamlet's inner thoughts in the face of his father's death.

Adapting Shakespeare's tragedies for the screen required finesse, considering not only the Renaissance setting but also the words and vernacular in which the passionate Hamlet seeks his arduous journey. Visual interpretation and character studies can vary from filmmaker to filmmaker, with some opting for a modern approach or altering the framework to elevate supporting characters into central characters. Still, Rotten Tomatoes' best adaptation, backed by masterful performances and top-notch production, manages to capture the true essence of Hamlet's eerie and vengeful spirit.

10/10 Hamlet (2000) - 58%

Stream On Crackle, Hoopla, Pluto TV

Michael Almereyda's Hamlet is one of the more modern take on the iconic play, Change the slow pace and gloomy atmosphere. It is not a time setting, but a millennium that takes place in contemporary fashion, crowded streets and busy lifestyles.

Unfortunately, the modern vibe is a far cry from the play's original feel, making parts of Hamlet's primary narrative awkward and poorly managed. While Almerida takes a similar approach to Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet, bringing together the modern world with refined prose and language, it's not the same as Ethan Hawke's misconceived Hamlet. , the performances seem forced and unnatural, more withdrawn than melancholy.

9/10 Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) - 61%

Stream On The Roku Channel, Hoopla, Tubi TV, Kanopy, Pluto TV, & Freevee

Although most adaptations focus on the main hero, Hamlet, some films, such as Rosencrantz and The Death of Guildenstern, allow supporting characters time to shine. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are actually two secondary characters in the original Hamlet who were once his childhood friends - a friendship that only becomes tainted when Hamlet kills them. Unlike the serious and bombastic version of Hamlet, the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are actually a tragicomedy that pokes fun at the ill-fated characters.

While the film insists that the friends' first priority is to figure out what Hamlet is doing, it increases the antics of these characters as they tell subtle jokes to lighten the eerie atmosphere of the show mood. While its whimsical tone lends itself to hilarity, its comedic approach to a tale of tragic vengeance may also turn off many familiar with Hamlet. Still, Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, who play Hamlet's titular friend, have a spirited chemistry that energizes the frivolous supporting cast.

8/10 Ophelia (2019) - 62%

Stream On Netflix

Considering that most adaptations of Hamlet follow the titular tragic hero, Ophelia shifts the focus to Hamlet's titular lover. Much like other screen iterations of Hamlet, Ophelia retains the main storyline of Hamlet, but it's from her point of view.

As most adaptations of Hamlet focus on the protagonist's quest for revenge, Ophelia digs deeper into her romance and heartbreak with Hamlet, which sets the stage for how their relationship developed in the first place. Even though the storyline gets convoluted as it tries to level up minor characters, it's still a refreshing way to give the show's side characters a voice of their own. Additionally, Daisy Ridley elevates Ophelia's intelligent, independent, and decisive character traits, which improve on the more vulnerable types in the original books.

7/10 Hamlet (1990) - 76%

Rent On Spectrum On Demand

Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet more closely resembles the original in its settings and dialogue. However, it is more medieval than Renaissance.

Compare Mel Gibson's portrayal of a sad, volatile, bitter Hamlet brings his characterization closer to the play's version than other portrayals. The drama and energy is a little different than what a play does, but it also reinforces Hamlet's subtle and complex imagery. Unfortunately, the story lacks depth in Hamlet's quest for revenge, and it seems the overall narrative becomes an afterthought thanks to the performances of the actors, especially Gibson.

6/10 Haider (2014) - 88%

Stream On Netflix

Like many of Shakespeare's greatest stories, Hamlet has been adapted for many international markets. One of the best non-English adaptations of Hamlet is the Bollywood film Hyder.

Director Vishal Bhardwaj made several interpretations of Shakespeare's tales, such as Omkara (Othello) and Maqbool (Macbeth). Like his previous adaptations, he succeeds in conceptualizing Hamlet's story with depth and skill, fitting it with the geopolitics of Kashmir that reinforce the overarching plot. The tone is also more haunting and action-packed than most Hamlet depictions, but the illustrations work well with the eccentric, sinister and contrite character of Shahid Kapoor's Haider, widely praised for his roughness and subtlety.

5/10 The Lion King (1994) - 93%

Stream On Disney+

While the 2019 live-action remake fell short of expectations, the original 1994 Lion King was an animated film Classic to this day. While the film's target audience is clearly children, little is known about the fact that the inspiration behind the story came directly from Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's especially incorporated into Hamlet's plot, like the rivalry between the uncle and Mufasa and Simba's revenge for his father.

Of course, while the original Hamlet drama begins with the death of King Hamlet, The Lion King does portray a lovely father-son relationship between Mufasa and Simba, which makes the narrative of revenge even more powerful. Even Scar, based on King Claudius, has a deep villain arc that makes his motivations clearer than those of his counterparts. Still, it's not too dark for younger viewers, as there are some charming and funny moments, especially in Simba's friendship with Timon and Pumbaa.

4/10 Hamlet (1996) - 95%

Stream On Hoopla

Kenneth Branagh is considered a master of Shakespeare adaptations, producing such films as Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Othello. But 1996's "Hamlet" is not only one of Branagh's best films, it's also one of the best Shakespeare adaptations on the big screen.

In addition to the tense and sharp performances of the actors and the excellent production design, Branagh's visionary masterpiece perfectly encapsulates the essence of Hamlet's story, reflecting the Every detail from gameplay to precision. While it does have the modern setting of a 19th century castle, the dialogue and story remain authentic with its eerie setting and complex dynamics. Also, Branagh shows the depth of Hamlet as a character, bewildered and conflicted but vengeful and profound as he repeats the monologue straight from the text.

3/10 Hamlet (1948) - 95%

Stream On HBO Max & The Criterion Channel

Since the 1948 version was one of the first to deal with Hamlet, Olivier laid the groundwork for the film's creative aspects, such as the tailored costumes, castle scenes, and tone. Quite revolutionary for its time, 1948's Hamlet delves into Hamlet's psyche through Olivier's interpretation.

Like many others, Olivier controls the energy and vibrancy of his Hamlet, knowing when to exude vengeful energy, confidence, or intensity on screen. Most importantly, however, Olivier also conveys Hamlet's important themes and messages, analyzes the characters' consequences, and crafts such a heartrending story with rich melodrama and intriguing character studies.

2/10 Hamlet (2009) - 100%

Rent On Prime Video & Vudu

2009's Hamlet, one of several Shakespeare adaptations shot on stage but made for film, saw Doctor Who David Tennant play the titular character, who perfectly portrayed the character's playful yet mean .

Unlike some poorly modernized shots, the 2009 film achieved the rare feat of bringing in a modern framework without compromising the main story and performances. The entire cast, from Patrick Stewart to Penny Downey, puts on stage with an engrossingly masterful performance, displaying a dynamism that serves the other well. Of course, Tennant is clearly the star of the show, filling the room with powerful energy as he radiates pain and a vengeful Hamlet.

1/10 Hamlet (1964) - 100%

Not Available For Streaming

Perhaps the best Hamlet adaptation to date is the Russian version. Much like the other editions, the 1964 version stays true to its source material, including castle-like scenery, Renaissance costumes, and the dynamics of the play.

However, in contrast to Olivier's version, this 1964 illustration exploits a political climate that has become embedded in Hamlet's overall narrative structure. In addition to the subtle but brilliant performances of the Russian actors, the technical aspect is also an important moment of the film, as its virtuosity enhances the scenes and brings an eerie atmosphere to the story. While this version lacks the ostentatious production design of other adaptations, and the final scenes feel rushed, the Russian version goes above and beyond to interpret Shakespeare's masterpiece to a whole new level.

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