Monday, April 25, 2011

Classic Movie Marathon Day 8: Hamlet (1948)

Welcome to day eight of the Classic Movie Marathon. Eight movies down, four to go. Next up is The Lost Weekend (1945).

Okay, so this is going to be a very quick review, since I only finished watching Hamlet around four hours ago and I...pardon my naivety...didn't quite grasp this movie as much as I should have. I feel awfully ashamed to even admit that, since I pride myself in having such a 'mature taste in movies' (hey, I have a reputation to uphold now). But Shakespeare + my uneducated mind led to an experience where I felt I really only had a handle on how great the performances were and how beautiful the direction was. The script didn't seem to matter much to me with this one, and a script in a movie always has to matter to me, so I guess that's where I got lost. However, I imagine if I ever read the play 'Hamlet' (which is very likely, as I am a fan of many other Shakespeare plays), I'll be able to look at this movie more in-depth, and appreciate the work that Laurence Olivier did with this even more. Though, I still don't for the life of me know how this movie made it's way into my DVD collection two and a half years ago.

Laurence Olivier directed himself to an Oscar (Best Actor and Best Picture, one of only two foreign films to ever win the award) in William Shakespeare's tale of tragedy of murder and revenge. Claudius (Basil Sydney), brother to the King, conniving with the Queen, poisons the monarch and seizes the throne, taking the widowed Gertrude (Eileen Herlie) for his bride. Hamlet (Olivier), son of the murdered King, mournful of his father's death and mother's hasty marriage, is confronted by the ghost of the late King who reveals the manner of his murder. Seeking revenge, Hamlet recreates the monstrous deed in a play with the help of some traveling actors to torment the conscience of the evil Claudius. In a visit with his mother, Hamlet expresses his anger and disappointment concerning her swiftly untimed marriage. Thinking a concealed spy in his mother's chamber to be the lurking Claudius, he mistakenly kills the meddling counselor, Polonius (Felix Aylmer), father of Ophelia (Jean Simmons) and Laertes (Terence Morgan). Claudius, on the pretext that Hamlet will be endangered by his subjects for the murder of Polonius, sends the prince to England.

I would have given anything to see Laurence Olivier performing Shakespeare on stage, but I guess seeing him on film is enough. He is an actor tailor-made to be tackling such duties as performing Hamlet, and he does so with considerable charm and ill-temper. As someone who spends her time studying such performances as if to gather notes for a drama class, I couldn't help but be in awe of Olivier's talent and the way he can effortlessly wrap himself around the seemingly complicated words of Shakespeare. His directorial effort is amazing, too. It's obvious that the actors are acting as if they were on a stage, as the wider shots require the actors to be more melodramatic and move a lot more. However, when he gets down to the closer shots, he captures every emotion he wants to, and I found that magnificent to watch. One of my most favourite supporting performances was that of Jean Simmons as Ophelia, early in her career, earning her a well deserved Oscar nomination. While I would have rather seen Vivien Leigh take the role as she was supposed to, Simmons was beautiful and lovely in the role. Other than that, I feel like I can't go any further in to Hamlet, as I have to admit defeat to the words of Shakespeare which confuse a young child such as myself.

What I got:


  1. Fantastic review! I thought about going on a classic run just a little while ago myself. You have a new follower! :)

  2. Thank you, and thank you for the follow! You now have a new follower too!

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