Hamlet

Hamlet

DVD - 2000
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"The best ever adaptation of Shakespeare's best ever play. Olivier is mesmerizing."--Sunday Times (Australia)
"The feature is certain to live forever as a screen classic."--Boxoffice Magazine
A Danish prince seeks to avenge his father's death when his uncle murders him, succeeds him as King, and marries the Queen. Along the way, Hamlet spurns his girlfriend, scolds his mother, contemplates suicide, and kills some folks.
Publisher: [United States] : The Criterion Collection, 2000
ISBN: 9780780021310
0780021312
Branch Call Number: DVD DRAMA HAM
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (ca. 157 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in
Additional Contributors: Olivier, Sir Laurence
Simmons, Jean

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bhg0010
Jul 15, 2018

The 'Golden Age of Cinema' from the 1930s to 1960s produced a number of movies that managed to achieve initial success but wound up quickly forgotten, looking to later audiences like minor historical pieces without any particular great quality to them. This is not one of those films. Laurence Olivier's Hamlet still holds up today and looks quite fascinating through modern eyes.

What stands out the most is likely the intimate setting. Hamlet and his associates wander around a medieval netherworld in which darkness pervades every other corner. Stairs jut up into nothingness. Cavernous entryways and imposing windows give a sense of constant connection without the barest sense of real privacy. The performances themselves appear just as inspired by the tropes of film noir. Actors and actresses alike play on this balance of barely restrained dramatic poise, both whispered threats and bare screaming come naturally given the foreboding circumstances.

Olivier's take on the titular character is a heroic one. His Hamlet is full of righteous anger while still operating under a melancholy fog that restrains his every move. It's a bit of a contrast from the more cynical interpretations that came later, but it seems to work fairly well. The only real lagging elements of the film, where it gets less interesting to modern audiences, appear when things focus on certain side characters. Several moments fall flat by seeming rather 'stage-y' and lacking in emotion. Jean Simmons as Ophelia appears particularly miscast. Still, the movie holds up astonishingly well overall given the decades that have passed, and the actor/director deserves huge credit for that.

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EvanSchoenfeld
Jul 05, 2018

Shakespeare must have been weird: Why didn’t he write about happy things? If Hamlet was the hero, how come he died at the end? To ponder the play is to grapple these difficult questions, and more. Olivier has an unrivaled facility for understanding Mr. Bard and making him intelligible. Has there been a more superb example of film-making? But what’s this about Yorick? If he’s dead, why talk about him?

Question the omissions of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Fortinbras if you must. But Jean Simmons' Ophelia? That I cannot bear.

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Davidf05
Mar 17, 2017

Lawrence Oliver's greatest performance earned him an Oscar which many actors today don't understand.

k
KerrAvon
Jul 08, 2011

THIS IS THE HAMLET TO SEE! True, he had to cut alot out (4 1/2 hours down to 2 1/2), but as a cohesive reworking it is well acted and thought out! It relates the essence of the story and is set in its original setting (i.e. a Danish castle in 1600, WHERE IT SHOULD BE SET!) Breathtaking!

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Davidf05
Mar 17, 2017

Davidf05 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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