Hamlet (2000 film)

Hamlet, also known as Hamlet 2000, is a 2000 American drama film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, set in contemporary New York City, and based on the Shakespeare play of the same name. Ethan Hawke plays Hamlet as a film student, Kyle MacLachlan co-stars as Uncle Claudius, with Diane Venora as Gertrude, Liev Schreiber as Laertes, Julia Stiles as Ophelia, Steve Zahn as Rosencrantz, Bill Murray as Polonius, and Sam Shepard as Hamlet's father.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Almereyda
Produced byAndrew Fierberg
Amy Hobby
Screenplay byMichael Almereyda
Based onHamlet
by William Shakespeare
Music byCarter Burwell
CinematographyJohn de Borman
Edited byKristina Boden
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • January 24, 2000 (2000-01-24) (Sundance)
  • May 12, 2000 (2000-05-12) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2 million[1]

In this version of Hamlet, Claudius is "king" of the Denmark Corporation, having taken over the firm by killing his brother, Hamlet's father.

This adaptation keeps the Shakespearean dialogue but presents a modern setting, with technology such as video cameras, Polaroid cameras, and surveillance bugs. For example, the ghost of Hamlet's murdered father first appears on closed-circuit TV.


  • Elsinore Castle, the seat of power of Denmark's crown in the play, is re-imagined as Hotel Elsinore, the headquarters of Denmark Corporation.
  • Prior to delivering the "To be, or not to be" monologue, Hamlet is seen watching a video of famed Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh explaining the principle "To be is to be with others; to be is to inter-be" a basic teaching of Hanh's "Order of Interbeing".
  • The "Mousetrap" play takes the form of a video art montage, edited by Hamlet himself.
  • The character of Marcellus, one of the soldiers, is re-imagined as Marcella, Horatio's girlfriend.
  • The Captain in Fortinbras' army is replaced by a flight attendant on Hamlet's flight to England.
  • Instead of carrying around actual flowers, Ophelia carries polaroid photographs of various flowers. In the film, Ophelia is an amateur photographer.
  • Fortinbras' conquests are not military, but corporate takeovers with the aid of his "armies" of lawyers.
  • Laertes does not organize a revolution. He merely confronts Claudius.
  • As opposed to drowning in a brook, Ophelia is found to have drowned in a fountain in front of the Hotel Elsinore, surrounded by mementos of her relationship with Hamlet.
  • The Ghost of King Hamlet appears in Horatio's apartment, sitting in his bedroom as Marcella sleeps, before Hamlet and Horatio enter it.
  • The first intervention of Osric is re-imagined as a fax machine in Hamlet and Horatio's apartment, delivering Laertes' message right before the duel. However, Osric does appear during the duel between Hamlet and Laertes.
  • Laertes does not kill Hamlet with a poisoned rapier. Instead he shoots Hamlet with a pistol, then is shot himself. Hamlet then uses the same pistol to shoot and kill Claudius.



Reviews of this film have been divided. Metacritic, a review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 70/100, based on 32 reviews from mainstream critics.[2] According to Rotten Tomatoes, 57% of critics gave positive reviews based on 89 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Stiff performances fail to produce any tension onscreen."[3]

Film critic Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times lauded it as a "vital and sharply intelligent film,"[4] while The Washington Post reviewer deemed it as a "darkly interesting distraction but not much more."[5] The reaction to Hawke's performance as the title role is also mixed. The Los Angeles Times described him as a "superb Prince of Denmark - youthful, sensitive, passionate but with a mature grasp of the workings of human nature."[6] New York magazine, however, thought Hawke's performance was only "middling."[7]

See also


  1. "Hamlet (2000) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 20, 2010.
  2. "Hamlet Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  3. "Hamlet (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  4. Mitchell, Elvis (May 12, 2000). "'Hamlet': A Simpler Melancholy in a Different Denmark". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  5. Howe, Desson (May 19, 2000). "'Hamlet': A Melancholy Dude". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  6. Thomas, Kevin. "Hamlet - Movie Review". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 26, 2007. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  7. Rainer, Peter (May 22, 2000). "Get Thee to Moomba". New York. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
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