At least the 22nd time William Shakespeare's most famous tragedy has been brought to the screen, Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of Hamlet was the first to preserve Shakespeare's entire text, uncut and unabridged. Moving the action into the 19th century, Branagh cast himself in the title role and, as in his adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, assembled an eclectic group of actors that mixed veteran Shakespearean performers (including John Mills, Judi Dench, John Gielgud, and Derek Jacobi) with Hollywood stars not known for interpreting the Bard's work (among them Robin Williams, Charlton Heston, Billy Crystal, and Jack Lemmon). However, unlike most interpretations, it's the women who really carry the show, with the two best performances delivered by Kate Winslet as Ophelia and Julie Christie as Gertrude. As usual, Hamlet finds himself torn over what to do after the death of his father and his mother's hasty remarriage. Branagh's version of Hamlet was also notable on a technical level, as it was filmed in the 70-mm format for increased visual clarity and detail.
by Mark Deming synopsis