Posted by: Stephen Cavanagh
Credits: Written and directed by Stephen Cavanagh, produced by Richard Hughes and Keith O’Grady, music by Zan Lyons, cinematography by Stephen Cavanagh, Ellen Factor, Keith O’Grady, editing by Ellen Factor, Keith O’Grady
Cast: Stephen Cavangh (Hamlet), James Lecky (Claudius), Yvonne Richardson (Gertrude), Simone Kirby (Ophelia), Chris Simpson (Laertes), Antony Doherty (Horatio), Dominic Stewart (Polonius), Colin Stewart (Rosencrantz), Martin O’Brien (Guildenstern), Charlie Hughes (First Player), Anne Fitzpatrick (Second Player), Damien Devaney (Third Player), Declan Reynolds (Barnardo), Thomas Mullan (Marcellus), P.J. Gallagher (Gravedigger), Richard Hughes (The Associate), Keith O’Grady (Priest), Matthew Jennings (Aussie Rick), Anthony Brown (Ghost), Veronica Brown (Nurse)
The Derry Film Initiative’s Hamlet, directed by Stephen Cavanagh in 2005, is arguably one of the most creative and successful Shakespeare films in recent years. It relocates Hamlet to modern Northern Ireland, reflecting the region’s violent history (the film’s opening transposes the lines from Act V, to remind us “Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts, Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters, Of deaths put on by cunning and forcéd cause”). Produced for a pittance, the film relies on strong performances, a battery of imaginative, filmic coups (particularly the use of point-of-view shots from Hamlet’s perspective), and the particularly resonant tones of Northern Ireland speech.
The Derry Film Initiative is a not-for-profit organsiation based in Derry, Northern Ireland, which aims to bring together talents from within the local filmmaking and acting communities to build a home-grown filmmaking base in the city. Hamlet was shot on digital video in and around Londonderry. All cast and crew worked for free, and supplied their own props. The film was not released theatrically, instead being released free to all online.
[Update (December 2011): Since this post was first published the version of the film available in ten parts on YouTube has been taken down and has been replaced by the higher image quality single version on Vimeo]