Friday, 27 June 2014

5 Interesting Facts About Hamlet

Laurence Olivier as Hamlet in 1948
Written sometime between 1599 and 1602, Shakespeare's Hamlet has proven immensely popular, and it's little wonder with a play that has it all: jealousy, revenge, power, love, murder...and even moments of comedy.

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).
Sound familiar?

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! 


  1. good facts but i have spent the whole day researching facts on hamlet so sadly i know all of them but still nice facts. (:

  2. lololol ur facts r wr0ng u have no fakst i h8 shakeshackspere

    1. That isn't very nice!

    2. Hello, Anon! I'd usually remove a comment like this, mostly to save you embarrassment, but I don't think I've ever seen anything so funny as "shakeshackspere". I don't know if you were drunk or high on something when you wrote that, but Lord love you for giving me a hearty laugh this morning!