It was primarily an arthouse audience that saw Michael Almereyda’sHamlet(2000), ‘the surprise Shakespeare film success of 2000, outgrossing both Taymor’s Titus and Branagh’s Love’s Labour’s Lost’ (Crowl, 2003, 245, n.15). It was a surprise indeed, since the inspiration for this Hamlet had been Orson Welles’s Macbeth, a commercial failure in its own time. Nevertheless, the Macbeth Welles dubbed a ‘rough charcoal sketch’ of the play convinced Almereyda that ‘you don’t need lavish production values to make a Shakespeare movie that’s accessible and alive’ (Almereyda, 2000, vii). The film certainly is that, and for a small-budget movie it also manages to achieve a kind of lavish look by making the expensive steel and glass commercial landscape of Manhattan a vital character in the film. Partly taking his cue from Luhrmann’s hip-modern Romeo + Juliet, Almereyda reasoned that because ‘global corporate power is as smoothly treacherous and absolute as anything going on in a well-oiled feudal kingdom … an omnipresent Denmark Corp.’ would provide ‘an easy vehicle for Claudius’s smiling villainy’.
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