22 August 2007 update:
The HAMLET DVD is out in North America! It will be released in Germany on 24 August, and in the UK on 24 September (exclusively to HMV). Release date for Italy is 12 September; in France the date is 7 November.
For those who waited patiently... a review of the last few years...
THE HAMLET DVD SAGA....
7 May 2007 update:
Here is a press release from Warner Brothers - the DVD is only months away! Read the original here
May 07, 2007 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
The Shakespeare Collection: Branagh’s Hamlet 2-Disc Special Edition, Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Olivier’s Othello & Thalberg’s Romeo and Juliet, All Debut August 14
From Warner Home Video
BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On August 14, Warner Home Video debuts a four title collection of William Shakespeare’s most famous screen adaptations. Leading the group will be the long-awaited DVD debut of Kenneth’s Branagh’s "Hamlet" 2-Disc Special Edition, the highly acclaimed full text version of Shakespeare’s powerful tragedy, featuring a magnificent all-star cast. The collection also includes three other famous translations, all making their DVD premieres -- Max Reinhardt’s legendary 1935 production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", Sir Laurence Olivier’s "Othello", and the lavish M-G-M version of "Romeo and Juliet" starring Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer.
The Shakespeare Collection, with all films remastered to showcase their lush production values, includes new commentaries, vintage featurettes and more. The Collection will be available both as a five-disc set for $59.92 SRP, and as individual titles. The Hamlet 2-Disc Special Edition DVD is $26.99 SRP and the other titles are available for $19.97 SRP each.
Hamlet 2-Disc Special Edition (1996)
The timeless tale of murder, corruption and revenge is reset in an opulent 19th-century world. The cast includes actor/director Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet, Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Robin Williams, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal and Charlton Heston.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)
Nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film is a visual triumph, and features superb performances from James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell and Mickey Rooney.
Four decades after Laurence Olivier brought the Moorish general to the screen, his bravura performance retains its power.
Romeo and Juliet (1936)
George Cukor directs this timeless tale of doomed lovers divided by feuding families. Adding to the allure of this Best Picture nominee, are remarkable sets, opulent costumes and superb photography that reflect the film’s lavish budget.
Warner Home Video
Ronnee Sass, 818-977-6439
Carl Samrock Public Relations
Karen Penhale, Marie Remelius, 818-260-0777
E-mail requests for materials to:
Art can be downloaded at www.whvdirect.com
4 March 2007 update:
There have been a number of steps forward: this might actually be the year when we finally get the Hamlet DVD!
Someone from Warner Bros., one C.G. Wiley, posted these comments about Hamlet on
Amazon.com in February:
And on 26 February, during an online chat on the Home Theater Forum this exchange took place:
"I work for Warner Bros. Yours and my wish is just around the corner. We
just finished the video work on Hamlet. Now just have to get the menus and
special features done. It's coming soon on HD-DVD."
"The HD-DVD version will not be playable on regular DVD players, I am
sorry. As far as a word about a standard def version I have heard nothing.
Though I do imagine it will be available in all formats in 2007 seeing as
how it is a 10th anniversary edition. I am glad to see people are looking
forward to the product."
YO - Any news on Branagh's HAMLET?
You can read the transcript of the whole chat on Mark Casello's website.
BRANAGH'S HAMLET is done, and will be out before the end of the Summer. In SD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray!
But... the best news is that Kenneth Branagh and Russell Jackson recorded a commentary for the DVD in late February! Woooooohoooooooooooooooooooooooo!!
It seems that "before the end of the summer" might be August. Apparently Warner will time the release with the HBO showing of As You Like It. So let's hope we will all being doing the dance of joy before the autumn comes!
17 October 2006 update:
From Mark Casello's website:
Here is the text of an email I just received from Warner Bros. regarding the release of Hamlet. It looks like it is going to be 2007 . . . maybe it will be an HD release then too.
"I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and the many fans of Kenneth Branagh’s HAMLET for the support and patience shown in waiting for the release of this wonderful film to DVD.
We, too, have been most disappointed that we could not have brought this film to DVD sooner. The good news, after a great deal of time, expense and great care, the transfer is complete. We are working on the special content and we do plan on releasing HAMLET in 2007. We are doing all with special attention and good conscience and I’m hopeful all will come to believe it was worth waiting for.
If you wish to post this on the HAMLET site, you have my permission to do so."
Vice President - Publicity & Promotion
Warner Home Video
May 2006 update:
From Mark Casello's website:
"Update! After months of patient waiting, I finally have something to
report! The new transfer of the film is nearing completion, but it has
taken a very long time both because of its length and the fact that it
comes from a 65mm negative. My Warner sources report that the initial
transfer was completed last week. The next phase of the project, the
removal of dust and scratches during the digital remastering process,
should be completed in about 30 days. Once the master is ready for disc
authoring, they will schedule a release date. Things are looking good so
far! Unfortunately, I don't have any definite news to report on the
supplementary materials to be included with the DVD, but Warner did make it
a point to tell me that this remastering has been extraordinarily
expensive, but worth it."
February 2006 update:
Sagas are usually long - but is this a rule? Could we not have a short and exciting saga? This is the age of short attention spans, no time for another Odyssey recounted by firelight, we need that little silver disk (or disks, we hope) in our machines NOW. Warner Brothers does not seem to have their finger on the Hamlet pulse... it's getting depressing. Don't they want to make a bunch of bucks, and enrich the culture in the new digital world at the same time? (Gotta stop or I'll start tearing out my hair...)
From Mark Casello's website:
"...that should learn us /
So, if you haven't got hair to spare and don't want to scratch your eyes out, in case you need them to watch this DVD on the happy day it is released (thinking positive here!), please visit www.kenbranagh.com on Tuesday 14 February to make your voice heard. Be polite, but encouraging. Mention the literally thousands of libraries and educational institutions which will buy a copy, not to mention us quivering Hamlet fans. Ask them not to abandon a product which will put them on the Shakespeare map, the Branagh map, the quality products map... And stay tuned for the next chapter, sigh.
There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will --" (5.2.10ff)
February 2, 2006
Thanks to Andy who emailed me the new header quote for this page; I found it very appropriate to the current situation we face. Well, aside from the groundhog's bleak forecast of another six weeks of winter, I received a call from a source close to Mr. Branagh. She explained: yes, they had been in contact with the Warner Family about the Hamlet DVD project in late December and that both parties were very excited. Ken was coming up with ideas of what he would also like to put along with it (some ideas specifically mentioned were a discussion panel of various other actors who have played Hamlet, along with some other interview things). However, last week they received an unexpected email explaining that they, Warner Bros, may "have to" move the release of it until 200 and . . .EIGHT!!! What?!? So, I propose that on this Valentine's Day, as we did last year, we politely remind Warner Bros. of the people who are still awaiting this DVD. Although I don't want to rush the project into a ship-shod release, I feel that (and have seen on too many occasions to count) projects get shelved for decades. Remember "The Manchurian Candidate" by John Frankenheimer starring Frank Sinatra? It was originally released in 1962 and not re-released on video until 1987!!!
February 2005 update II:
"CONGRATULATIONS HAMLET FANS" "You Speak. Warner Listens!"
These are quotes from Mark Casello's website. He did it, you did it, we did it! It seems (dare I say it?) that Warner Home Video has committed to releasing a special DVD edition of Hamlet in 2006, the 10th anniversary of the film. You can read the email from Ronnee Sass, Executive Director of Publicity for Warner Home Video here. Now let's send big vibes towards Warner and our Mr. Branagh so they can come together and include goodies like the director's commentary and extras! (If they include a 6 hour director's cut I won't complain. :-) )
February 2005 update:
ON MONDAY 14 FEBRUARY YOU CAN HELP!
Mark Casello has has planned a Valentine's Day "campaign" to get the attention of the people at Time-Warner and let them know just how popular the idea of the Hamlet DVD is. Here is the information from his site:
"Valentine's Day Email Blast
On Monday February 14th, you will be able to click the "email blast" link above to tell Warner Brothers how much you "love" Branagh's Hamlet. The link will take you to a prewritten letter with room for your own comments. Click submit and it automatically sends your email to eight of Warner Home Video's highest ranking officials!"
Of course, everyone is encouraged to participate. In the personal comments section you might want to mention that a director's commentary would be nice. I think it's important to be polite, and encouraging, heh heh.
So on Monday 14 February click here to participate.
January 2005 update:
Mark Cassello has set up a website to document the Hamlet DVD saga and his ongoing campaign to wake up those sleeping philistines in Hollywood. Please visit the site here and get the scoop!
November 2004 update:
Surprise (but not really, given the history of this thing)- another false alarm! What was listed on Amazon.co.uk and other sites as a release of the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet on DVD has now morphed into the 1969 Tony Richardson oeuvre, starring Nicol Williamson as Hamlet and Marianne Faithful as Ophelia. Sendit.com is still listing Kenneth as the director (at age 9) along with Tony Richardson (who, alas, is not here to set things straight), while Amazon still lists all the Branagh cast, and shows the Branagh poster. Do we laugh or cry? Right, both!
November 2004 update:
UK shops (such as Amazon.co.uk) are listing a January 10 release for the DVD of Hamlet. No extras, 232 minutes, Region 2 (so not good for North American players, unless you have a multi-region one). So maybe your kajillion votes in the Empire survey helped. Now, a release with a director's commentary and a Region 1 edition would probably answer absolutely everyone's prayers. In the meantime, keep praying (and buy a multi-region DVD player!). :-)
August 2004 update:
Empire, the UK film magazine, is surveying its readers for suggestions for films they would like to see released on DVD by Warner Brothers. Snort. But hey, why be jaded? Follow this link and let your voice be heard!
March 2004 update:
And the epic saga continues... here's the latest information on the Hamlet DVD: Warner
Home Video did an online chat recently and this was one of the questions:
Q: [cosimotorello] hello, i was asking about the Kenneth Brannah (sic) version
of Hamlet? Will it have any SE?
At the end of the transcript (available here) there are various lists of releases and wannabe-releases, and the depressing news is that Hamlet is listed under "No plans for release at this time". SIGH.
A: Legal issues preclude our releasing the Branagh HAMLET at
And the Hamlet saga has another new twist...there appears to be a Russian edition DVD available (how did that happen?). You can read about it (if your Cyrillic is up to it) here. According to a Ken-Friend (whose Cyrillic is up to it) the DVD features subtitles in Russian and Estonian. Clearly the Russians are far smarter than Warner Brothers... maybe not more legal, but they know a market when they see one. :-)
January 2004 update: (gosh, this is getting to be a saga!)
The Warner Brothers release of the Hamlet DVD seems to be pushed back to the autumn of 2004. Sigh.
September 2003 update:
And the bad news is that there will not be a director's commentary on the Warner DVD. Whether there will be any extras at all is not clear. So... I guess we say "better than nothing" and hope and pray that Kenneth Branagh will one day put out the boxed set of Shakespeare work that he has mentioned.
April 2003 - AT LAST!!
Here is the news we have all been waiting for:
YAHOOOOO! I can also tell you that this was confirmed by 'Hamlet' himself, in a huge and thrilling stroke of luck that yours-truly had (but it wasn't me who spoke to People.com :-)). The extras should include the two documentaries "To Be Hamlet" and "The Readiness Is All", and interviews with the cast. No clear word on a director's commentary. (Cue global collective wishing, finger-crossing, amulet rubbing, etc. etc.)
"It looks like there may finally be good news for you fans of actor/director
Kenneth Branagh's film version of Hamlet. According to People.com's daily
news e-mail, Branagh has confirmed with them that the 1996 film is being
prepared for DVD release next spring by Warner Bros. Look for the title to
include at least some extras."
It was great getting all your enquiries about this - it could be a variant version of Jeopardy: "The Most-Asked Question in the History of the Compendium"...."When is Hamlet coming out on DVD?"