Hamlet (1948)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama


Hamlet (1948) Poster

Prince Hamlet struggles over whether or not he should kill his uncle, whom he suspects has murdered his father, the former King.

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7.8/10
13,661

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  • "Hamlet" Laurence Olivier 1948 Rank / Two Cities
  • Laurence Olivier and Terence Morgan in Hamlet (1948)
  • Hamlet (1948)
  • Laurence Olivier and Eileen Herlie in Hamlet (1948)
  • Laurence Olivier in Hamlet (1948)
  • Laurence Olivier and Jean Simmons in Hamlet (1948)

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Cast & Crew

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Director:

Laurence Olivier

Writer:

William Shakespeare (by)

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1 December 2003 | tfrizzell
Dust Up on Your Shakespeare.
The titled melancholy Danish prince (Oscar-winner Laurence Olivier) seeks to avenge those involved with his father's death. It seems that Olivier's father (voiced by John Gielgud) still roams the Earth as a spirit that walks around aimlessly, unable to find Heaven or Hell (Purgatory for the most part). Gielgud makes it clear that his brother (Basil Sydney) was the culprit in his death and Olivier becomes enraged. The fact that Sydney has become king by marrying the titled character's mother (Eileen Herlie) just makes the tension build. Herlie and Olivier's relationship pushes the envelope hard on a typical mother-son bond (there are incestuous tones abound here). Oscar-nominee Jean Simmons appears to be Olivier's one true love, but after a terrible tragedy she falls down a path of mental anguish. It appears that the only logical conclusion for Shakespeare's famed character is to have that famous sword fight dual with Simmons' brother (Terence Morgan). Of course you know that not everything is the way it seems, right? "Hamlet" was a surprising success in 1948. Produced in Britain (and strictly a British project for all intensive purposes), the film became a runaway hit with most all audiences and critics (becoming the year's Best Picture Oscar winner). Shakespeare's plays have never really warranted excellence on the silver screen, but this adaptation (also by Olivier) is about as close as we have seen thus far. The movie runs nearly three hours and I was about to fall asleep after the first 60 minutes (the film is almost dragging to a crawl by that point), but after the set-up the movie soars very high. Lots of data that is somewhat confusing hogs up a little too much time when the pacing could have been much crisper. Olivier's spin on the timeless classic is truly uncanny nonetheless. His direction (he was Oscar-nominated in the category) and vision are something to behold. The production values are strong and I ended up enjoying the movie for what it is and what it ultimately wanted to be. Olivier became the first of only two people presently to direct himself to an Oscar victory (Roberto Benigni duplicated the feat with 1998's "Life Is Beautiful"). 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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