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Hamlet

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1009 - Hamlet
1009
Air Date June 27, 1999
MST3K Director Michael J. Nelson
Running Time 90 Min
AKA Hamlet, Prinz von Danemark
Movie Director Franz Peter Wirth
Year 1961
Cast Maximilian Schell
Hans Caninenberg
Wanda Rotha
Dunja Movar
Preceded by 1008 - Final Justice
Followed by 1010 - It Lives by Night


C'mon, man. We've seen like eight ghosts, none of 'em have been even close to my dad.
  — Mike

 

Hamlet is the 9th episode of the tenth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the 194th episode overall. It premiered on June 27, 1999.

The Movie

Synopsis

Hamlet

Maximilan Schell in Hamlet

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Schell), returns home to find that his father (the King) has been murdered, and that his mother has married the King's brother (the murderer).  Not long after this, Hamlet is instructed by the ghost of his father to seek revenge. 

Hamlet is overcome with melancholy and seems to be insane, though this may be an act. He hesitates to kill his uncle (Claudius), who discovers that Hamlet is planning revenge.

Hamlet becomes increasingly unhinged and kills Polonius, one of the king's advisers. Polonius' daughter Ophelia (Hamlet's girlfriend) becomes crazed with grief and drowns herself. Polonius' son Laertes demands revenge, and Claudius arranges a duel between Laertes and Hamlet.

Hamlet, his mother, Claudius, Laertes (and several others) end up dead.

Trivia

  • Claudius' English-dubbed voice was recorded by an uncredited Ricardo Montalbán and during one of his scenes, the SOL crew notes how the character sounds like Ricardo's signature villain role in the Star Trek franchise.
  • Although Mike comments "Filthy, misogynist Paul Verhoeven" played the gravedigger, this Verhoeven is, alas, not THE filmmaker Paul Verhoeven.
  • As mentioned above, this movie, which originally had a runtime of 152 minutes, was heavily edited to fit within the allotted time for an episode of MST3K. By contrast, Kenneth Branagh's 1996 feature film version of Hamlet (one of the few times anyone has filmed the full play without edits) runs 242 minutes. 
  • One of the most common tactics used to reduce the length of this play is to omit the character of Fortinbras, hence the closing segment of this episode.

The Episode

Host Segments

Hamlet

The SOL crew playing three card monte in order to trick Pearl

Prologue: Tom reveals that he's changed his last name from Servo to the identically pronounced but differently spelt Sirveaux. He also reveals he's added a h to his first name, changing it not to the expected Thom but to Htom. Crow suggests Htom hlick him.

Segment One: While Crow introduces his new name change, Pearl puts the finishing touches on her deadly virus. Fortunately Mike is able to distract Pearl with playing three card monte to decide the choice of today's movie. Easily winning the rigged game, Mike selects Hamlet, but makes the mistake of allowing Pearl to have the choice of which production of Hamlet she could send up for him.

Mst3khamlet

Crow pretending to be Mike's dad

Segment Two: Crow & Tom's plan to scare Mike by pretending to be the ghost of his dead father falls apart due to the fact his dad isn't dead. Neither are any of the other relatives that the pair can name.

Segment Three: With the dreary German version covered, Tom & Crow attempt to come up with their own alternate productions of Hamlet. Their percussion version isn't that much more successful than the scuba diving, buckethead or all furniture versions they've tried.

HamletCastle

Fortinbras (Kevin Murphy) visits Castle Forrester

Segment Four: It's time once again to play "Alas Poor Who?", the game where players have to guess the identity of the person based on a single bone from their body.

Segment Five: The Bots have made their own Hamlet action figure, with a voice box that has a really, really long string to activate it. Meanwhile down in Castle Forrester the character Fortinbras resents being dropped from this movie's version of Hamlet and demands his scene be re-enacted, giving Pearl a worthy test subject for her virus.

Stinger: Claudius does a double take.

Trivia

  • Unusual Credits: The "to be or not to be" speech plays over the ending theme.
  • This episode is divisive among fans, with many claiming that the movie is too plodding, slow, intellectual, dreary and boring to make for a good episode (thus affecting some of the riffing and host segments as well), along with the numerous cuts required to make the episode the regular duration of a MST3K episode (about 90 minutes). However, there are fans who find this episode to be enjoyable (especially when seen as a bold attempt from the crew at doing something different).

Callbacks

  • "You think you can take me? Go ahead on, it's your move." (Final Justice)

Guest Stars

Obscure References

  • "You think you can take me? Go ahead on."
Mike is referencing Joe Don Baker's catchphrase from the experiment the week before, Final Justice.
  • "Run-D.M.C. Everett Koop!"
Run-D.M.C. was a pioneering hip-hop group. C. Everett Koop was the Surgeon General of the United States during the Reagan administration.
  • "Hamlet will return in Thunderball!"
A reference to the "James Bond will return in..." taglines that frequently appear during the closing credits of James Bond movies. Thunderball was the fourth Bond film, released in 1965.
  • "Rap artist, The Notorious K.I.N.G."
A play on words referring to the rapper Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls), and to Claudius' large chains and necklaces.
  • "Oh, shoot, Frank Rich is out there."
Frank Rich was the theater critic for the New York Times, who was capable of ensuring a play's success or failure with his review.

Memorable Quotes

[The first scene takes place in what looks like a barred room.]
Mike: San Quentin prison presents Shakespeare.
[The members of court are performing a dance.]
Servo[singing] "Night fever, night fever/We know how to do it!"
[A disheveled Hamlet with mussed hair ominously approaches Ophelia.]
Servo [as Hamlet]: Ugh. I stuck a fork in the outlet.
. . .
[Hamlet stares intently at Ophelia, then puts a hand to his head.]
Mike [as Hamlet][in stoner voice] Oh, man. Me and Horatio got blasted on aquavit — woke up on the express bus to Copenhagen.
Crow [as Hamlet]: Stepdad, could you help me with my science fair project?
Servo [as the Ghost]: SCROOGE! Oh, wait, wrong story.
[Hamlet talks with Ophelia in her "closet".]
Ophelia: My prince…
Servo [as Ophelia]: … are back from Fotomat.
. . .
Hamlet: I never gave you aught.
Crow [as Ophelia]: Tscha!
Ophelia: My honored prince… you know right well you did.
Servo [as Hamlet]: Right well did not!
King Claudius: I like him not...
Crow [as Claudius]: I like him. NOT!
Hamlet: To be or not to be...
Mike: The literary equivalent of "Da-da-da-dunnn!"
Hamlet: That is the question.
Crow: I'll take "to be" for 50, Alex.
Hamlet: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...
Servo: Starring Shelly Long and Bette Midler!
Hamlet: Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?
Mike: Ow, my shin's right on the edge of a stair.
Hamlet: To die: to sleep.
Crow: Yeah, that's what we're doing right now, Bub.
Hamlet: No more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the tousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to...
Mike: Ok, we need a predicate, now.
Hamlet:...'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd.
Crow: Especially with Ophelia, man! [snickers]
Mike: Oh, you...
Hamlet: To die, to sleep.
Servo: To SLEEP!
Mike: Whoa, that's an old chesnut.
Hamlet: To sleep...
Servo: To SLEEEEEP
Hamlet: Perchance to DREAM?
Servo: The impossible DREAM?
Hamlet: Aye, there's the rub.
Mike: I knew I had some rub left...
. . .
Hamlet: ...When he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?
Crow: Heh, he said "bare bodkin," hehe.
Hamlet: Who would fardels bear...
Mike': Ha, fardels...
. . .
Hamlet: And makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others--
Servo: SUM UP!
Hamlet: --that we know not of?
. . .
Mike: So I'm a chicken for not stabbing myself--that's all you needed to say!
[Having stabbed an intruder behind Gertrude's tapestry, Hamlet discovers it is not the King, but Polonius.]
Hamlet: Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool!
Crow [as Polonius]: Oh, right, it's my fault you killed me.
Hamlet: Forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum.
Servo [as Hamlet]: Fifty thousand, maybe.
[Hamlet and Laertes prepare to fence.]
Hamlet: Give us the foils.
Servo [as Hamlet]: We shall some potatoes bake.
[King Claudius holds out a cup of poisoned wine to Hamlet.]
Claudius: Here, to thy health.
Servo [as Claudius]: ...coming to a sudden end.
[Claudius can only stare helplessly as Gertrude drinks the poison meant for Hamlet.]
Mike [as Claudius]: Oh. Great. Well, not looking forward to the Danish singles scene again...
[As the film ends, a card is shown reading "You have seen Hamlet by William Shakespeare."]
Mike: Hamlet will be back in "Thunderball".

Video Release

Mst3khamletDVD

MST3K DVD Cover (2011 single version)

  • Commercially released on DVD by Rhino Entertainment in November 2003 as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 4, a 4-DVD set with Space Mutiny, Girl in Gold Boots, and Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, the DVD was later pulled in January 2010 due to Rhino no longer obtaining the rights to distribute MST3K. The DVD features an intro by Mike Nelson, specifically taped for the release. Nelson acknowledges the slow pacing and general dreariness, and the amount of time need to cut out of the film (hence the angry Fortinbras).
  • The episode was released as a DVD single in 2011 on the MST3K website.

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