Richard Burton's Hamlet

  • by William Shakespeare
  • Narrated by Richard Burton, a full cast
  • 3 hrs and 0 mins
  • Performance

Publisher's Summary

This production of Hamlet, directed by Sir John Gielgud and starring Richard Burton, was recorded in the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City during a spectacular season for Broadway. It was the year of Carol Channing's Hello Dolly, Barbra Streisand's Funny Girl, and Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park. Noel Coward, Arthur Miller and Alec Guinness were also on the Great White Way that year. But the show that created the most excitement was Richard Burton's Hamlet. Given the importance of the show, a film was made of a single performance. At Burton's insistence, after screening the film for just two days, all copies were destroyed except for one that went to the British Film Institute and one that went to Burton's home. 25 years after the stage production, Burton's widow allowed this audio recording to be made from her copy. This performance differs from other recordings of Hamlet, not only because of Burton and Gielgud, but because it is a live recording of an actual performance on Broadway, not in a recording studio.

"You get the immediacy of a live production of Hamlet on Broadway in the nervousness of the actors, knowing that they can't go back on it, that this is for all time, unlike films, where you can if you make a mistake go back and do it again. The particular intensity and nerves of this is probably the same kind of thing that excites a real audience in a real theatre." - Richard Burton

For more informative lectures about this work, don't miss A Study Guide to Hamlet.

Or, listen to a conversation with Professor Harold Bloom.

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What the Critics Say

"Time and again he takes a speech or an action we had thought fixed forever in unshakeable conception and daringly hurls it into new life. He is humorous when we expect solemnity and withdrawn when we anticipate aggression.�" (Newsweek)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Burton at His Best

Richard Burton was born to play Hamlet. This performance is a classic which everyone ought to know. The soliloquies are unique, differing in interpretation in the most imaginative ways from their counterparts in former recorded productions. Hume Cronyn, despite his American accent, is a superb old fox as Polonius, and Gielgud as ghost finally found a role which requires his stylized delivery.
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- Thomas A. Copeland

"You Foolish Fool!"

Would you consider the audio edition of Richard Burton's Hamlet to be better than the print version?

Richard Burton performing Hamlet...LIVE! Yes!


What other book might you compare Richard Burton's Hamlet to and why?

I could be entertained by my old college biology text book if Richard Burton had made a recording of it.


What does Richard Burton and a full cast bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Performing Hamlet...Live! No covering up mistakes and captures the excitement of live theater. I absolutely love it.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Hamlet laying on the guilt trip to his mother about marrying his father's brother and implying she and his uncle murdered him. It is very heart wrenching and dramatic.


Any additional comments?

"Oh Hamlet, speak no more!" sobbing..."No more!" sobbing...

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- Betty "diverduck"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-19-2001
  • Publisher: Paul Brownstein Productions