Why 'Elsinore' is the Chosen Name
A explanation of the
chosen name ‘Elsinore’ anyone steeped in things Shakespeare will recognise
the name. Elsinore is located forty kilometres north of Copenhagen and the
Castle of Elsinore, known to the locals as Kronborg, is the actual settings
of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the fatal duel between Hamlet and his evil
stepfather took place in the Long Hall of the castle.
In 1963 it was realised
that the 400th year of Shakespeare’s birth was near (1564-1964)
and so it was decided the BBC and DR (Danish Television Service), to stage
and film Hamlet for the first time (and as it turned out, only time) at the
very setting Shakespeare had in mind. This historical movie was indeed made
starring Christopher Plummer (Sound of Music) in the title role.
Finally, in the Long Hall, Hamlet was slain and the greatest tragedy play
was finally performed in the right place.
The film also featured a very
young Michael Caine as Horatio and Robert Shaw (Jaws and The Sting) as the evil
King Claudius. Other notable actors were Steven Berkoff and Donald
Plummer has in numerous
interviews expressed a desire for 'Hamlet at Elsinore' to be shown on
American TV. There has been some reluctance as it is 135 minutes continuous
viewing (commercials would butcher the result), but he has felt it could be
done as American viewers would appreciate the historical location and indeed
this has become part of the larger history of Shakespeare.
Those who want to read
more about the occasion, visit Christopher Plummer’s website:
Nine minute video clip
- featuring the stars of Hamlet at Elsinore (36MB)
There is an interesting
by-line. The recording engineer was a young 32-year-old Dane, a gifted
acoustician who in his mid twenties was given the prestigious job of heading
the Dubbing Department (i.e. the sound department) of DR. Over the years he
had worked with and recorded live some of the great artists who visited
Denmark in this era, and included Sammy Davis Junior, the Beatles live at
Tivoli and composer Bent Fabric (who wrote Alley Cat). His name
was Palle Kai Rasmussen, my father.
crew, on the other hand, remained unimpressed. They were too busy coping
with technical demands far beyond those of their infant television service.
A remarkable group, these Danes. They dropped microphones and tripped up the
stairs with their hundreds of electric cables and yet they managed, by a
mixture of eagerness and instinct, to produce the right results. They also
made a fairly astonishing leap over the language barrier, and in a matter of
hours could comprehend weird items like a "creeping dolly," even though they
had never seen one before.
has the feeling that, when the film is shown, it will be the old castle that
triumphs. It is the eerie, forbidding Kronborg that makes this "Hamlet" so
exactly right. Even the ancient brass cannons on the battlements get into
the set by sounding the "peal of ordnance" ordered by Fortinbras in the last
scene. They hadn't been fired for 200 years, and they bounced with the joy
of it all and sent the seagulls whirling away toward Sweden.
Elsinore was also the home
of Joern Utzon who passed away on 29th November 2008 (designer of the Sydney Opera House) who lived in a small
village of Hellebaek on the outskirts of Elsinore itself and my sister lives
a few hundred metres from him, so they are almost neighbours. As a child I would go
fishing at Elsinore, right in front of Kronborg Castle, casting my lines
while watching the ferries, which leave every fifteen minutes across the
narrow sound of water to Sweden. Duty free shopping abounds, spirit
boutiques in the walking streets and the best cheese shop in the world, and
at the end of the main walking street is a small bank where my sister works.
Picture of the castle: I
took this from one of the ferries entering Elsinore harbour, the summer of
2002. Behind the castle is the other side of The Sound and Sweden.
So now you will realise
what ‘Elsinore’ means to me, with memories going back to my childhood and
recalling my father coming home with his portable Uher Tape Recorder and
those precious tapes containing the voices of great actors. In 1964 we sat
down as a family and watched it on TV on the 400th anniversary of
Now let us get on with
the technical side of the Elsinore Project:
Preliminary Design Details