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Hamlet (1990)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 8

It may lack some of the depth and complexity of the play, but Mel Gibson and Franco Zeffirelli make a surprisingly successful team.


Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

It may lack some of the depth and complexity of the play, but Mel Gibson and Franco Zeffirelli make a surprisingly successful team.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 38,026

My Rating

Movie Info

Franco Zeffirelli directs his third Shakespeare adaptation (after Romeo and Juliet and Otello) with this film version of the tragedy Hamlet. The titular prince of Denmark (Mel Gibson), returns home to his family's castle of Elsinore after years of attending school in Germany to find out his father has died and his uncle Claudius (Alan Bates) is the new king. To make matters worse, Claudius has married Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude (Glenn Close), whom he has unusually strong feelings for.


Drama, Romance


Franco Zeffirelli

Feb 24, 2004

Warner Home Video

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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (8) | DVD (6)

Performances all fall in a middle range between the competent and the lackluster.

July 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a surprisingly successful venture, decked out in Anglo-Saxon styles and with a brooding, robust castle setting which oozes horse muck.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Mel Gibson] is by far the best part of Mr. Zeffirelli's sometimes slick but always lucid and beautifully cinematic version of the play.

October 4, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gibson gives the melancholy Dane an earnest but pedestrian reading.

June 6, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's nothing embarrassing about Zeffirelli's brisk new version, nor anything particularly remarkable; it's an entirely credible, middle-of-the-road production.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The style of Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet, with Mel Gibson in the title role, is robust and physical and -- don't take this the wrong way -- upbeat.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Starring Mel Gibson, Zeffirelli's Oscar-nominated version is colorful and mildly engaging, but lacking depth and poetry, and the two women are miscast.

June 6, 2012 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Alas, poor Mel Gibson! I knew him when he was on top of the world.

February 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

Mel Gibson emotes as the doleful Dane.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Offers what amounts to a comic book intro to Shakespeare's classic, retaining few of the play's psychological complexities.

July 4, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

In retrospect, it's a small jump from Shakespeare to God. What if Gibson had been stopped then?

June 23, 2004
F5 (Wichita, KS)

Not only is Mel Gibson much better than you might expect, but Zeffirelli's Hamlet is often entertaining and rarely hard to endure.

October 4, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Zeffirelli does an excellent job at juggling with updating Hamlet, while staying close to the classic play.

July 16, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

Gibson and his ego fancy himself as an ideal Hamlet, which is tragic to the film in a different sense.

July 10, 2003

Gibson makes a fine, frenzied Hamlet, but Zeffirelli's direction leaves something to be desired.

March 2, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Gibson's Hamlet is more than respectable, but Helena Bonham Carter's the best Ophelia I've ever seen.

January 6, 2003

Zeffirelli's screen interpretation centers on Mel Gibson's deft portrayal of the intense emotions throttling the mind and body of this melancholy Dane.

January 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Frustratingly cold and distant ... actually starts to feel like the dusty work of a dead European guy.

September 23, 2001 Full Review Source: Film Written Magazine
Film Written Magazine

Slow and plodding.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

The scenery is nice but this much-trimmed re-telling is nothing Shakespeare would feel bad for missing.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

A fine introduction to the greatest play in history, but fairly lightweight for purists.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Hamlet

This is a very faithful, even if exaggerated attempt to recreate a shakespearean play, centuries after the material. After the good, but less faithful DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet, Mel Gibson tries his luck at playing the Prince in "Hamlet." I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with the outcome of this film. It stays true to most of the originally scripted playwrights and tries to cover new grounds in making it a feature-length film. The pacing is a little slow at times, but I accepted it, because that is how the play already is. Some of the dialogue seems to make fun of shakespearean language which makes a few scenes a little uneven, but the entire story is present and I had a great time watching it. "Hamlet (1990" is a great film!
October 24, 2011
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Hamlet: The play's the thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king. 

"Shakespeare's classic tale of vengeance and tragedy."

I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare, when it comes to the movie adaptions or just the original plays, but I can enjoy a well made Shakespeare adaption from time to time. The only two I've seen that I've liked are both from Zefferelli. He made the ultimate classic, Romeo and Juliet and then his version of Hamlet was pretty good as well. It is the only version I have seen, so I have nothing to compare it to. Still, while I can appreciate this movie, I still can't fully say I like because it just isn't to my taste.

There's really no reason going over plot because everyone knows the plot before going in. Mel Gibson does do a pretty good job as Hamlet. His soliloquies are pretty good and most of the time when I see an actor do a soliloquy, I want to kill myself. This has all the necessary and annoying elements that come along with Shakespeare. It's overly dramatic and its acting is way over the top in the drama department as well. But that just comes with the territory. Glenn Close and Helena Bonham Carter were also good in their respected roles as Gertrude and Ophelia. 

Going in you should probably know if this movie is for you or not. Shakespeare fans should adore it, although I guess some of the previous ones are considered better. People who hate Shakespeare will hate it. As far as the few adaptions I've seen of Shakespeare, this would have to be my second favorite. The major scenes of Hamlet are well done, so that in itself makes the movie worth a look.
October 7, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

I saw around twenty minutes of this and then I just gave up. The "To Be, or Not to Be" soliloquy was boring and overly-dramatized.
September 29, 2011

Super Reviewer

I think this is one of the better versions of Hamlet particularly because of two aspects: Mel Gibson and Helena Bonham Carter. I absolutely think Gibson gives the best "to be or not to be" speech in all the Hamlet adaptations I've seen. Also, I think he portrayed Hamlet as he truly is with all his broodiness and internal conflicts effectively played out. Bonham Carter is certainly a convincing Ophelia. I didn't particularly care for the angle they gave between Hamlet and his mother, Gertrude (played by Glenn Close). It also cut a lot from the source material, which I didn't particularly like either.
July 11, 2011

Super Reviewer

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