|Laurence Olivier as Hamlet in 1948|
Here are five interesting facts about one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most well known plays.
1. Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play at 4,042 lines and with a running time of around 5 hours.
For obvious reasons, the play is often edited and shortened, but when Shakespeare's original audience saw it, that was a very long stretch of sitting...on wooden seats.
|The Lion King is an adaptation of Hamlet|
2. Disney's The Lion King is based on Hamlet.
Simba is Hamlet: his father is murdered by his uncle and he, eventually, seeks vengeance. But while The Lion King has the tear-jerker dad's death scene, it also has a much happier ending!
3. Hamlet is the second most filmed story in the world...coming second to Cinderella.
There have been over fifty screen adaptations of Hamlet. One of the first filmed versions was made well over a century ago, in 1908.
Since then, notable versions have included Laurence Olivier's in 1948, Kenneth Branagh's in 1996, and Michael Almereyda's 2000 adaptation, with a modern twist, starring Ethan Hawke.
|Kenneth Branagh's 1996 Hamlet is just one of the many |
film versions of Shakespeare's work
4. Shakespeare probably used Saxo Grammaticus' legend of Amleth as a source for the play.
|The folklore legend of Amleth was immortalised |
by Shakespeare's Hamlet
Amleth (Anglicised to 'Hamlet'), Prince of Denmark's father is killed by his own brother.
In order to put his uncle on the back foot, Amleth "...chose to feign dullness, and pretend an utter lack of wits. This cunning course not only concealed his intelligence but ensured his safety.
"Every day he remained in his mother's house utterly listless and unclean, flinging himself on the ground and bespattering his person with foul and filthy dirt. His discoloured face and visage smutched with slime denoted foolish and grotesque madness." (Amleth, Prince of Denmark, from the Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus, edited by D. L. Ashliman).
5. Hamlet was among Shakespeare's most popular works during his own lifetime...and has remained one of his most often performed plays.
From the play's very first performances, it was a hit. Over four centuries on, it's still one of Shakespeare's most popular and frequently performed plays - that's some longevity!