An in-depth review of the film Hamlet (1948) directed by Laurence Olivier, featuring John Laurie, Esmond Knight, Anthony Quayle H amlet was the second and most controversial of three film adaptations of Shakespeare plays to be directed by the distinguished English actor Laurence Olivier - the other two being Henry V (1944) and Richard III (1955). This page works best with JavaScript. The film, "Hamlet", won the academy award for best picture in 1948; suffice it to say, that an accolade such as this merely scratches the surface on the brilliance of this Shakesphearian production!! Families can talk about the Shakespearean language used in Hamlet. Famously, he plays up the Oedipal overtones of Hamlet's relationship with his mother. Lavish historical drama has explicit sex scenes. ", but never does he consider things from her point of view. The picture as a whole is very well done, although in parts it can seem a bit chinsy. Prime members enjoy Free Two-Day Shipping, Free Same-Day or One-Day Delivery to select areas, Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading, and more. So will I." However, subsequent versions that included Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (including the 1990 Franco Zeffirelli/Mel Gibson version) have run shorter than this movie's still quite lengthy two and a half hours. He shies away from the humor completely, and instead takes a slow, purposeful tack. Hamlet (Laurence Olivier), son of the murdered king of Denmark, contemplates whether or not to take vengeance on the murderer and now king, Claudius (Basil Sydney), Hamlet's uncle. Did you sympathize with him? It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness. Hamlet looks as old as his own mother. Memorable Acting by Olivier in Somewhat Slow-Paced Adaptation. Nonetheless, the result was a marvelous film. Wonderful, but a little too mature for some kids. Metacritic Reviews. An aging widow, whose husband is dead and whose son's path to power has been usurped. If this is how you love him, it's good thing you didn't hate him. It's actually really good. The writings of William Shakespheare are always accredited as being the greatest literary works in the history of western civilization. The result is that we're left scratching our heads trying to figure out WHY things are happening this way (most importantly, why isn't Hamlet king at the beginning and why doesn't he automatically become king at the end). I would like to see a version where Hamlet is played by a younger actor. Very deliberate. It's interesting that although I've seen several actors play Hamlet, it is only Olivier's performance that made me dislike the character and see his selfishness. Eileen Herlie was a mere twenty-eight when she played Gertrude. Claudius is ruthless in his desire to obtain power. He truly plays him as insane. Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2018. This is the best received adaptation of the famous Shakespeare play, and it certainly has its merits. It not only deserved to wow the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it also deserves its reputation as one of the finest British films ever made. He made great use of the innovative deep focus photography that had been recently used to great effect by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane and William Wyler in The Little Foxes. I still think it's a masterpiece, however now it fills the second place in my preferences and the first one belongs to Lord Laurence Olivier. Is the dialogue accessible or does it put people off? Basil Sydney emphasises Claudius' regret and self-loathing at his sins, whilst Jean Simmons is very convincing as Ophelia gradually gives in to madness. Having viewed Henry V in terms of a colourful canvas, Olivier saw Hamlet as an engraving and, thus, opted for a monochrome approach that was given an … While other versions have edited Shakespeare's words, Olivier cut two of its most famous characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Olivier as a director experimented with background music more typical of a Hollywood film drama then a Shakespeare play. Another scene that had me scratching my head was after the "players" first arrive. That is understandable given the challenge of adapting a four hour play into a 2.5 hour film and determining what cuts to make and where. The cast is recruited from British thespians, with predictably impressive results (lthough it must be said that Olivier is visibly older than his on-screen mother Eileen Herlie): it might seem hard to give naturalistic performances when one's dialogue is written in iambic pentameter, but everyone here manages it. There are very few names that inspire people to become actors. Gielgud makes it clear that his brother (Basil Sydney) was the culprit in his death and Olivier becomes enraged. I do like the 1948 performance better than the 1996 version with Glen Close and Mel Gibson,the gripping enmity in the 1948 movie seemed more believable!! Olivier (as director) firmly establishes the mood for the picture, and the ensemble acting is terrific. Laurence Olivier and Terence Morgan cross swords in Hamlet You will not read this from many critics about their own writing but I always feel unqualified to review a film based on a Shakespeare play. Fast, FREE delivery, video streaming, music, and much more. Occasional use of "damn" and "God." Olivier's career started on the stage and often remained there even after he found movie stardom. He also said he did it to cut down on the running time. Was't Hamlet wrong'd Laertes? Disabling it will result in some disabled or missing features. Hamlet swears vengeance and sets about proving his uncle is the killer. I enjoy Shakespeare and Hamlet is (obviously) one of his great plays. You can still see all customer reviews for the product. © 2008-2020,, Inc. or its affiliates, See all details for Hamlet - DVD by Laurence Olivier. I was very bothered by the ages. User Ratings Too indecisive. We're updating our reviews to better highlight authentic stories and accurate, diverse representations. As Patrick noted, it's expressionist in nature and although nearly the entire story is filmed in the same castle with a bare minimum of furniture and props, there's is always something interesting to look at on the screen. In the Representational approach, the actor tries to present the effect of an emotion, through a high degree of control of movement and sound. He knows it couldn't be the King. It stands to reason that Larry Olivier's version of Hamlet is one of the best, and even if he was a little old for the role (in his forties by this time) it really is the perfect role for him. For the first time, despite him being the tragic hero of the piece, I realized fully just how much of an asshole Hamlet really is. The myriad of belligerent proclivities demonstrated by the part of Hamlet encompasses a mindset which nurtured an extremely tumultuous cerebral unrest!! Of the more than fifty filmed versions of Shakespeare's most famous play that have been made since 1900, Laurence Olivier's 1948 adaptation remains the most celebrated. The language used is taken from Shakespeare's original play and may prove tricky for some to understand. This version has been topped now, but it's still not to be missed if only for nostalgic purposes. He is turned on by Ophelia. Even miscast, the scene remains explosively dramatic. Herlie and Olivier's relationship pushes the envelope hard on a typical mother-son bond (there are incestuous tones abound here). Thank you for your support. Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, Sir Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet" continues to be the most compelling version of … There aren't any reviews yet. I have seen this version "Hamlet" many times. In fact, I see a connection to another 1948 movie: "Treasure of the Sierra Madre". Being a seriously indecisive person myself, I could well relate to the main character. However, Claudius is not impressive enough, to my mind. This is unquestionably the best acted version (not just Olivier - superlative supporting cast) with minimalist, but effective sets and powerful music. And given how good it is, it is a shame that he only ever directed five films in total. To be buried alive with her? It's certainly the most quoted. Another criticism is directed towards one line of voice-over narration that occurs at the beginning of the movie. I think it's safe to say this is the best Hamlet so far. The star rating reflects overall quality. Simmons is an excellent Ophelia – a simple, naive young girl, merely a child, affectionate, light-hearted, playful, flirting and exceptionally sensitive. As for Olivier's decision of what to trim, clearly something had to go. I have seen Gibson's and Branagh's versions, and Olivier is still far and away the most impressive performance. Parents need to know that this 1948 Oscar-winning version of Hamlet is based on William Shakespeare's classic play and is both directed and stars Laurence Olivier. See our. Characters are all generally motivated by selfish desires. He makes `To be or not to be' an unusually powerful scene showing Hamlet just a man who sees so much evil all around that he nearly commits suicide. "Hamlet" was a surprising success in 1948. Why is he then drawing so much attention to his bloody actions when we all know he just left the King praying on a lower level? I also would like to mention Jean Simmons. Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2015. The movie was a multiple Oscar and BAFTA winner on its release in 1948 -- the ony Shakespeare adaptation to ever win the Best Film Oscar and the first British movie to win the award. However, with Shakespearean dialogue rattled off at such a rate and a still substantial two hours and 32 minutes running time, this remains a tough watch for youngsters, and perhaps adults too. Despite the rather cut-and-dried approach to Hamlet himself, and a few moments of technical awkwardness brought on by the limitations of technology at the time, Olivier's Hamlet is a marvellous realisation of the play.

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