Hamlet Reviews

Page 2 of 19
August 13, 2012
Laurence Olivier was at his best acting and directing in the greatest play ever written. Powerful and complete it was Olivier's interpretation of Hamlet that adds life to many familiar lines. The greatest actor of the 20th century did credit to Shakespeare and himself. His version of the soliloquy "To be or not to be" is the one to compare all others with.
March 25, 2010
A classic film, and a definitive screen adaptation of Shakespeare's most popular and enduring of plays. I agree with what has been said of this elsewhere: this is a profoundly reflective and psychological experience, one turned inward -- the political themes have all but been omitted from Olivier's vision, and this isn't a bad thing. In any case, Hamlet is a profound catharsis, and Olivier's film is cinematically, as well as dramatically, magnificent.
May 15, 2015
Transitioning works of Shakespeare to the screen doesn't always work out, but this one does just fine.
½ March 7, 2015
Hamlets assertive negative mind is unfathomable, Laurence Olivers acting is really delicious and of course his direction. Just don't care if he has omitted some important scenes . The movie was a visual treat. Really amazing.
March 3, 2015
As far as Shakespearian adaptations go, this version of Hamlet is very well done. Sure, it cuts out a few plot lines and even a few characters, but it presents Shakespeare in an authentic, yet easily digestible way. It's interesting that such a straightforward adaptation of an early 17th century play can win Best Picture in 1948.
December 10, 2014
Review In A Nutshell:

Hamlet, the film that introduced me to the works of William Shakespeare and Laurence Olivier; A personal story about death, grief, revenge and insanity. A film that was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1949, and graciously winning four, including Best Picture. It is now 2014, more than 50 years has passed and does a film like Hamlet still have a spot in the hearts of contemporary and future audiences? It is hard to say, and for one who has only seen Olivier's adaptations of the playwright's works, I cannot display an intelligent comparison and analysis; but what I am confident with, is that Hamlet has a strong and firm place on my mind as it opened my eyes of cinema that I have been reluctant to venture for so long.

By now, this would be my third or fourth viewing of Olivier's Hamlet, and with each passing viewing and contemplation, I find more elements about it that intrigue me, but it has also solidified the aspects of its production that I find to be inferior. I have not read the source material, therefore I cannot state how much of this film remains faithful, but since Kenneth Branagh's same adaptation in 1966 seem to have a larger running time and created at a time where thematic restrictions have been looser, I assume that film would demonstrate something much more faithful. Regardless Olivier's take is faithful or not, it still is an effective character and thematic study, one that uses classic melodrama and deliver it in such a way that remains faithful to stage productions and innovative for its cinematic audiences; similar to what was brought for Henry V. Henry V has proven to the world that Olivier could make it as a director, showing scope and intelligent use of the source material; Hamlet broke more ground by proving that he is also competent in telling intimate stories of fragile and emotionally plagued characters. I found Olivier's take on Henry V to be simplistic, lacking interesting qualities that would allow the audiences to be at awe with b his fascinating journey. Hamlet features a figure that is complex, full of darkness shaped in a form of grief and madness, carrying an abundance of pain; it was because of this that I was frequently engaged, wanting to explore more of the character, fascinated on the way he sees and reacts to certain things. Olivier does not hold back and lets the audience get in deep under the character's skin, allowing them to understand what he is going through and prevent him from being seen as villainous in his quest for revenge.

Though most of the film's characters in Hamlet were interesting enough to follow, I did however feel confused with Ophelia, as the film seems to push her as an important figure to the story, I wasn't able to understand or empathise with the character at all. There were moments in the film where she, let's just say, "did" something and I just sat there thinking why? This may not be a problem to those who have read the play and has some knowledge behind the intentions of the character, but since Olivier keeps most of it in Hamlet's perspective and shaping the characters around him through his perspective, I was left distant with Ophelia.

Henry V was a big achievement in its transition to cinema due to its usage of the lovely Technicolor, which enticed many of its viewers with the idea of Shakespeare's world popping to life with lively sets and blooming colors. This was one of the central reasons on why I thought Henry V was a beautiful directorial debut from Olivier. Hamlet seems to have achieved the opposite. What we have here is a black and white shot of a gloomy tale, supported with cramped and uneventful sets, and effects like smoke and shadow filling the entire frame. In choosing this approach, what Olivier actually achieved was something much more effective as it resonates strongly with the dire themes of its narrative, and it achieves this sense of simplicity without feeling too amateurish and instead coming off as artistic and profound. There was never a dull visual moment in Hamlet.

The performances in this film was a step-up from Olivier's previous film, but it also features more insightful characters that are allowed enough time to be fleshed out and become important to the viewing experience. First and foremost, Olivier is wonderful as Hamlet. He demonstrates a level of commitment that his other cast members are nowhere near of achieving, that being said, the supporting cast members are not terrible, they simply just were not as memorable or as extravagant as Olivier. Olivier did have the difficult task on being the lead for the film, which takes up about 90% of the film's overall story, and does this while providing direction to his cast and crew; I cannot help but be impressed with this as some would have cracked and have fallen short in a couple of instances, here the issues seem to have been kept at a minimum. There was one moment in the film that did give me a bit of shivers down my spine as it was happening, and it was the scene between Olivier and Eileen Herlie - who plays Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, and they were confronting each other in Gertrude's bedroom, antagonising her of the sins she has committed. Herlie is a theatre actress and one could feel the intensity that one would expect from that profession into her performance in this film, it was one of the rare moments in the film where someone actually outshines Olivier; in short, it was a beautiful scene.

Hamlet may not be difficult for contemporary audiences due to its dated production and melodramatic tendencies, but for those who are able to place their mindset of an audience member during 1948 and see it for what it is; I can guarantee one would find themselves lost in Hamlet's dark and gloomy atmosphere.
November 1, 2014
well acted and iconic eerie scenery, but it is at times dull despite some harsh plot cuts
½ December 16, 2010
(First and only viewing - 1/10/2011)
July 1, 2014
I realized I never read Hamlet, nor knew really how it ended (despite seeing a Simpsons spoof).

It is argueably the most sought after role for any actor, and no doubt Olivier does a fantastic job. My favorite thing is that Olivier makes the characters seem relatable yet still stay true to the greatest playwright who ever lived.
½ February 6, 2014
The truly notable parts of this were the cinematography and music. The sword fight was also excellent, but it didn't seem many of the actors had as good a grasp as they could have on their characters, excluding Olivier himself.
½ January 12, 2014
A brilliant stage production for film, but lacks the big screen values to back it up.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2013
Before Kenneth Branaugh believed that he was the be all and end all of Shakespearean film, we have Olivier actually being the be all and end all of Shakespearean film. It is a condensed version of the play yes but it takes nothing away from the angst ridden Dane as portrayed by a master.
October 27, 2012
Hamlet is a solid adaptation of a timeless tragedy with excellent visuals, great ending, strong acting, wonderful art direction and the ghost scene is creepy, especially for the time, and it is visually astounding, but it does not get the classic status owing to a lot of scenes that slow the pace of the film significantly with overabundance of long monologues and dialogues and bloated running time. It had the potential to be superb, but it kinda ended up being disappointing. Its Best Picture win is certainly understandable, but that does not make it fair nonetheless, especially given that the nominations list that year included a great little film called 'The Red Shoes' and an indisputable classic that is, of course, 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre'.
½ September 16, 2013
Laurence Olivier had an old archaic idea of Hamlet. I guess it's just one of the odd adaptations of Hamlet... but still, it's very well directed. Laurence Olivier has too many "Look at me, I'm Great" parts :)
½ August 4, 2013
Brilliant, but Olivier is not the best Hamlet of his generation.
July 23, 2013
best Shakespeare movie yet
½ July 12, 2013
lever ikke helt op til ophavet..
March 3, 2012
Lawrence Olivier's spell-binding performance helps to gravitate this adaptation as sublime and moving as the play itself.
July 10, 2011
I found no interest whatsoever from this film.
June 17, 2008
Laurence Olivier is excellent. The best spokesman of William Shakespeare.
Page 2 of 19