In the Bleak Midwinter

This film from 1995, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is a wonderfully understated film about a group of actors who come together to perform Hamlet as part of a campaign to save the local church which is under threat from developers.

The production is to take place over the Christmas period so the assembled cast are a group of individuals who all have their own reasons for being part of this team during the festive season.  As the film progresses, we learn about the background of the characters and the reason they would rather be in the Derbyshire village at Christmas than anywhere else.  As these foibles and circumstances become clear, our sympathies change.

Branagh is a great Shakespearian actor so the choice of Hamlet as a Christmas production is handled well, and the bizarre nature of its choice as a play is part of the plot.  Branagh, wrote the screenplay as well, brings out the sense of importance of putting on a play.  As these characters have agreed to take the work on a share of the profit basis, they are all second class actors or below.  First class British actors take on the role of second class actors and there is a lot of fun in this scenario.

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?

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