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Hamlet


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Product Details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, John Laurie, Esmond Knight, Anthony Quayle
  • Directors: Laurence Olivier
  • Writers: Laurence Olivier, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Anthony Bushell, Herbert Smith, Reginald Beck
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 19 2000
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780021312
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,229 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)


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4.2 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Themis-Athena on May 4 2005
Format: DVD
"Hamlet belongs into the theater," says Mel Gibson, the star of the tragedy's 1990 adaptation by Franco Zeffirelli, in an interview on that movie's DVD. And while primarily expressing regret over a lacking opportunity to explore the role's complexities by nightly slipping into the prince's skin on stage, he also has a point regarding any screen adaptation's validity: the many facets of Hamlet's character have, after all, been debated by literature's greatest minds since the Bard's very own time. For that reason, too, any newcomer is well-advised to first read the play - not see it on stage, nor watch any of the myriad movie versions - but keep an open mind and let the Bard's words speak for themselves. All these centuries later, Shakespeare alone still remains the one true authority on Hamlet's character; and while reading, too, necessarily creates an interpretation in the reader's mind that others may or may not agree with (as does any staging of the complete tragedy), the interpretative element is enhanced even more if this complex play is reduced to somewhat over half its length to comply with cinematic necessities. Nothing proves this better than Sir Laurence Olivier's 1948 movie, which won him Best Director and Best Actor Academy Awards, in addition to the film's Best Costume Design and Best Set Decoration honors.
Without question, in his day Olivier was considered *the* quintessential Hamlet; the actor who owned the role like none before and few, if any, afterwards; not least because of this movie and his participation in the 1937 Helsingor (= Elsinore) staging.
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By supastar on Oct. 19 2003
Format: VHS Tape
the text is butchered worse than elsewhere. And Olivier is just not the best Hamlet. The thunder during the tobeornotobe soliloquy that accomponies "ay theres the rub" and him shouting that line(?) are just plain corny and yuck. Branaghs a much better blonde and makes this film completely obsolete and useless.
I also never like seeing that soliloquy come AFTER the fight with Ophelia, as it does here. The H+Gertrude exchange is a little sexier than most, and I like it.
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By Mad Beast on April 23 2002
Format: DVD
It seems almost heretical to say over fifty years after Olivier's Oscar-winning film has passed indisputedly into the realm of "classic," but the fact of the matter is that this is a badly butchered and tolerably performed adaptation of Shakespeare's play. Olivier and text editor Alan Dent cut the script to the bone, eliminating not only the character of Fortinbras (who is a common casulaty of the editor's pen), but Rosencrantz and Guildestern (who are indispensible to depicting a complete version of the story).
Most of the acting is forgettable, with only Academy Award nominated Jean Simmons making any impact as the tragic Ophelia. Olivier is frankly wooden in the role, making one realize that Hamlet was never really his part and that posterity would have been better served if he's left this play alone and instead filmed one of his stage successes such as Macbeth or Titus Andronicus.
Olivier's success comes as a director rather than an actor, depicting Elsinore as a gloomy and forbidding haunted castle. The drum representing the ghost's heartbeat is a masterfully effective device and the look of the film can only be described as wonderfully Shakespearean.
While the virtues of the film are spotty, one scene must surely be ranked as among the greatest ever committed to celluloid: the duel between Hamlet and Laertes in Act V. It is hard to imagine any other production (stage or film) competing the excitement or tension of this compelling action, and Olivier's celebrated leap from a high tower to finally do away with Claudius is worthy of every platitude it has received.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paula Sperdakos on Feb. 16 2011
Format: DVD
Unfortunately, I can't view this DVD: it's in the wrong format, even though I am almost sure I checked this before I bought it. I would suggest that every effort possible be made to signal when a DVD is viewable in North America, or elsewhere.
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Format: DVD
I have now seen Olivier's Shakesperean roles in As You Like It, Richard III, King Lear, and Hamlet. Other than Richard III, where he played a perfectly devilish Richard, this would be my favourite Olivier role. He captures the prince's intelligence, wit, and melancholy. The other actors offer solid performances too and the directing and choice of set (a very creepy, gloomy Elsinore) are also brilliant.

The only reason I wouldn't give this play 5 stars as I do the Branaugh and Burton versions is because of the large cuts made to the text. While I certainly understand wanting to make some cuts, particularly in a play this long, some of the cuts are just too drastic. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are gone...completely. A few of Hamlet's key soliloquies, such as "Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I..." and "what a creature is man...", are also completely gone. Some of these soliloquies are key to understanding Hamlet's character. Again, I understand why directors may want to make SOME cuts. Branaugh's four hour movie may be too long for some viewers (not for a bard addict like me). Burton's version at just over 3 hours is an excellent example of a version in which cuts were made where key soliloquies and characters were not eliminated.

Still, despite that complaint, this is still an excellent production of Hamlet and I would reccommend it to anyone who appreciates superb acting.

Matt
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