Shakespeare! The man himself! The best writer ever, or else that dude you had to read in high school and he didn't make any sense.
Did you know he didn't make any sense at the time either? I mean, he made more sense, but people didn't say shit like "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" in conversation back then any more than they do now. So when a new Shakespeare play came out, back then, you can assume that a significant number of people were like oh, man...that dude. I like the cunt jokes, but what a pain in the ass.
I like Shakespeare, myself. He's my desert island guy. You can read Shakespeare forever.
This is my third time through Hamlet, widely considered Shakespeare's best play, his longest, I'd say his weirdest. But it's fun, how famous it all is. You can't swing a stick in here without hitting a legendary scene, right? "To be or not to be," says Hamlet. It's fun to get to these towering moments.
There's all this blather about how complicated and modern Hamlet is, and there's such a fuss made over it that I think there's a tendency - at least among people who are me - to be like what's the big deal? It's basically your formula tragedy, except the obstacles between the initial crime and the final bloodbath are that the protagonist talks too much, instead of whatever else the obstacles might be.
But it's true that Hamlet is an indelible character. He's terrific, in his wishy-washiness, and in his sleuthing, and his bizarre faux / not-faux craziness, and his wonderful speechifying, the slim black-clad Goth prince with skull in hand. He's quite an image.
And Shakespeare subverts the tragedy left and right. This is the meta tragedy! The tragedy to end all tragedies! You know what I love about Hamlet? I love the ending. Spoilers, in case you don't know how Hamlet ends - it's a tragedy, dude - the whole play is full of plays, of course. The Mousetrap, most obviously. But the tragic ending is also a play: a fencing match, on the surface, completely harmless. Nothing is as it seems anywhere, here, so when the final act happens with a poisoned foil here and the poison chalice there and everyone starts more or less accidentally stabbing and quaffing...oh, it's all just an awful lot of fun. And Hamlet has, in fact, failed to take action; it's his actual final breath (and his third killing) before he manages to do anything on purpose, by which time one has to question how much credit for proactivity you can honestly give him.
What I'm trying to say is that it's boring to call Hamlet so great, and it's easy to see the whole thing as fairly wanky, but it's actually - it's actually pretty great, man.
Best film adaptation: surprisingly, Mel Gibson's. Branagh's was way too long (yeah, I know, but still) and had Robin Williams in it; Ethan Hawke's is pretty good for a college term paper.