Hamlet/Horatio – By Paul Warner – Film Review

This inventive film is one that Shakespeare fans will certainly enjoy. 


As the movie opens, we see a film set being prepared and a group of actors getting ready to perform. This then becomes a reenactment of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” While the film consists mostly of this reenactment, there are these beautiful moments when we are taken out of this and can see the camera man or the timing on the camera, breaking the fourth wall. This reminds us that we are watching a “film within a film,” very much like the “play within a play,” which we see in “Hamlet.” The meta-aspect of this idea execution is brilliant. 

As the reenactment begins, we see Hamlet in a state of distress as his mother has married his father’s brother shortly after his sudden death. He is then visited by the ghost of his father, who tells him that he was killed by his brother. This leads Hamlet on a mission to avenge his father’s death, going mad in the process. 

The acting in this film is fantastic through and through. We have the brief moment at the beginning when we get to see them out of character, and we see the main character getting himself in the zone before he begins his performance within the performance. This adds to the reality of it being a set, and further immersing us into director Paul Warner’s world. 


From the beginning, the tension between the characters is clear, and even before knowing that his father has been murdered, we can feel Hamlet’s resentment towards his mother and uncle for marrying. In contrast to this, we see the playful relationship between Hamlet and Horatio, although as the film progresses, the tension builds here too. Very effectively that tension is built, by means of lovely directing and effective cinematography.


Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia causes great distress to her brother and we see him turn cold on her, much like he does with his mother. Gradually, Ophelia is driven mad too. Both characters show a different portrayal of this, but it works brilliantly!

There are quite a few particular moments that make this film so special, and it is that intention to focus on beauty and “momentary storytelling” that allows this film to work as it does. One such moment is when we see Ophelia discussing her relationship with Hamlet with her brother, we see images of Hamlet in all white, with bright lights, as though he is elsewhere listening to this conversation. It has a sense of visual poetry in many aspects, and it’s an example that represents the greater whole of how this film establishes its unique style.


Background music is used well too, and this helps to add to the tension and emotion of conversations. With that, of course: lighting also adds to the feel of the atmosphere within the film. The more tense scenes across the story are happening in dimly lit rooms, adding to the dark mood of the film. However, when we have the moments with the ghost or with dreams, the light is bright and this helps give these moments a fantasy, almost romanticized feel. 

The story moves at a smooth pace, keeping our attention as audience members throughout. The reimagining of the classic play in this way adds more depth to the story resulting in a truly fascinating, gripping watch!


We very much look forward to seeing where Paul Warner goes next!




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