Laurence Olivier - Hamlet (1948) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe) CD1.avi
Laurence Olivier - Hamlet (1948) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe) CD2.avi
William Shakespeare's tale of tragedy of murder and revenge in the royal halls of medieval Denmark. Claudius, brother to the King, conniving with the Queen, poisons the monarch and seizes the throne, taking the widowed Gertrude for his bride. Hamlet, 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, father of Ophelia and Laertes. Claudius, on the pretext that Hamlet will be endangered by his subjects for the murder of Polonius, sends the prince to England.
John Laurie ... Francisco
Esmond Knight ... Bernardo
Anthony Quayle ... Marcellus
Niall MacGinnis ... Sea Captain
Harcourt Williams ... First Player
Patrick Troughton ... Player King
Tony Tarver ... Player Queen
Peter Cushing ... Osric, Servant to the Court
Stanley Holloway ... Gravedigger
Russell Thorndike ... Priest
Basil Sydney ... Claudius, The King
Eileen Herlie ... Gertrude, The Queen
Laurence Olivier ... Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Norman Wooland ... Horatio, Hamlet's friend
Felix Aylmer ... Polonius, Lord Chamberlain
Director: Laurence Olivier
Won 4 Oscars
Codecs: DivX 3 / MP3
With this film, Sir Laurence Olivier set the standard as to how Shakespeare should be done on screen. His direction of his handpicked cast was flawless and his own straightforward interpretation of Hamlet is the one everyone else's is measured by.
It was a straightforward interpretation because Shakespeare himself in the introduction says that Hamlet's tragedy is one in which his problem is that he couldn't make up his mind. Olivier opts for that and doesn't try to give any deeper meaning to Hamlet's indecision.
For those who've never read the play or have seen it or studied in school, Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. He's Hamlet Junior. His father Hamlet Senior was the king and the king has died. But at the beginning of the play, Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father and the father tells him he was murdered by his brother Claudius. Claudius took the title and married Hamlet's mother Gertrude. All this was done while Hamlet was away at school in Wittemberg.
The ghost wants his son to revenge him, understandable enough. But the story is Hamlet deciding one thing and then another, moderating his course. His actions have everyone believing he's lost his mind. In the end it's tragedy all around.
I've always thought that the key thing to remember is that Hamlet is the only one who heard the ghost. Some other palace personnel told him about some apparition making an appearance on one of the battlements of Elsinore Castle, but Hamlet's the only one who's been told the tale. Therefore he's the only one who heard the story and he can't prove anything.
The device of spirits visiting Shakespearean protagonists is one the Bard used with great effect. Here, in MacBeth, in Julius Caesar, all of those visits meant someone was meeting their doom. But in Hamlet the ghost makes his appearance at the beginning of the play. Maybe if the ghost had revealed himself to Horatio, to Polonius, the Queen even, Hamlet's duty would have been clear.
In the supporting cast I liked Eileen Herlie as the Queen, Jean Simmons as Ophelia, Felix Aylmer as Polonius, and most of all Terrence Morgan as Laertes.
Laertes is an important character here. He's the son of the chief counselor in the court, Polonius and brother of Ophelia who has a yen for Hamlet. In the beginning of the play Laertes takes off for France. Later towards the end he finds out the tragedy Hamlet has wrought upon both his father and his sister and Laertes has no trouble making up his mind what he's going to do. Quite a contrast to Hamlet's behavior.
The film is moodily photographed in black and white. Olivier wanted to use color, but J. Arthur Rank wouldn't spring for it. So he made due with black and white and the lights and shadows of Elsinore castle as shown almost make this version a kind of Shakespeare noir.
I don't think subsequent versions with Nicol Williamson and Mel Gibson hold a candle to this one.
Hamlet (Laurence Olivier), son of the murdered king of Denmark, contemplates whether or not to take vengeance on the murderer and now king, Claudius (Basil Sydney), Hamlet's uncle. Hamlet must also decide what to do about his mother, Gertrude (Eileen Herlie), who is now married (quite happily, it seems) to Claudius, and Claudius' chief adviser, Polonius (Felix Aymer). In the middle of all this is Hamlet's love Ophelia (Jean Simmons), who is completely confused --- and hurt --- by Hamlet's increasingly bizarre behavior.
Like the Zeffrilli/Gibson and Branaugh versions of Shakespeare's classic that followed, Olivier's adaptation is a mostly excellent film with several annoying flaws keeping it just out of reach of greatness.
Olivier is superb as Hamlet --- especially when delivering the soliloquies, several of which are genuinely powerful. The rest of the cast, however, is a mixed bag. Herlie is very good, managing to completely overcome that fact that she is really 13 years younger than Olivier. Sydney has his moments and does a decent job, but never really gets across who Claudius really is. Aymer is amusing but nothing more. Simmons makes a good Ophelia, albeit not a great one. Norman Wooland is excellent as Horatio (which is a tough role to actually be memorable in). Stanley Holloway is good as the Gravedigger, but somehow he doesn't nail the part the way Billy Crystal did in the 1996 version. Finally, Peter Cushing is… odd as Osric. The rest of the cast is either stiff or completely uninteresting.
However, other than some weak performances, Olivier does a superb job directing everything. The atmosphere during the ghost scenes is absolutely suffocating and starts the film off well. And right from that scene, it's obvious that the camera work is going to be awesome. The camera moves and sweeps everywhere --- but not just for the sake of moving and sweeping like many movies (coughMichaelBaycoughcough). It creates extraordinary images and energy that make many scenes unforgettable --- without calling too much attention to itself.
William Walton's creepy music adds a lot.
Finally, the climactic fencing scenes are genuinely great – easily the best fencing scenes in a version of Hamlet and possibly among the best in film history.
However, despite many great scenes, the movie never creates the emotions it needs to really make the blows come. Yes, some scenes are truly compelling, but on the whole, it misses the mark in that department.
However, the scenes that work are brilliant, and despite the lack of emotional power, it is an entertaining and superbly made film that's just as worthwhile as its 90's successors (although it is marginally inferior to them, which is odd --- the 40's version inferior to the 90's remakes!).
This adaptation of "Hamlet" by Laurence Olivier (he both starred and directed) is a brooding, somewhat slow-moving, but also memorable version of Shakespeare's great play. Olivier's personal performance as the Danish prince is by far the strongest aspect of the picture.
Hamlet is one of the most complex and fascinating characters ever created, and no two great actors ever play him quite the same way. Olivier portrays him primarily as "a man who could not make up his mind", and his fine and often subtle acting brings to his role a deep understanding of his character's inner struggles and dilemmas, both moral and practical. He renders Hamlet's most famous lines in a distinctive way that reveal the many possible paths in Hamlet's future. It is a performance not to be forgotten.
If Olivier the actor is masterful, Olivier the director is good but not perfect. A great deal of Shakespeare's text was eliminated, getting the running time down to 2 1/2 hours, but even so there are times when the movie seems rather slow-moving, especially in the first hour or so. Most of the cuts involve interactions with the minor characters, and some of the original play's minor roles are cut completely out of the film. The result is to concentrate the emphasis even further on Hamlet himself and on his pessimistic meditations. While this enables Olivier's fine acting to become even more prominent, it does eliminate some very interesting portions of the story whose absence will be regretted by those viewers who love the play.
Olivier does add some good touches, though. He emphasizes the somber tone with numerous tracking shots of the castle's gloomy corridors and staircases. The filming of the famous sequence of events at the end is very good, and is much livelier than the rest.
While this is probably not the very best interpretation of the play "Hamlet", it is as good an interpretation of the character Hamlet as you will ever see. For that reason alone it is must viewing for any fan of Shakespeare or of Olivier.
* Laurence Olivier was 41 when Hamlet was released. Eileen Herlie, who played Hamlet's mother Gertrude, was 28.
* With this film, Laurence Olivier became the first person ever to direct themselves to a best actor or actress Oscar.
* The first film to win both the Academy Award for best picture and the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award for best picture.
* The first film to win both the Academy Award for best picture and the Venice Film Festival
* The final scene to be filmed was the famous shot of Olivier jumping off a high tower onto Claudius and killing him, because it was considered to be so dangerous that it was feared that Olivier would injure himself too badly performing the stunt to film any other scenes. Olivier emerged uninjured from the leap, but the stuntman doubling as Claudius was knocked out from the impact and lost two teeth.
* The first non-American film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
* One of the Shakespearean purists who criticized this shorn-down version of the play was Ethel Barrymore, who complained that it wasn't as faithful as the stage version produced on Broadway in 1922, in which her brother John Barrymore played Hamlet. Ethel Barrymore was the presenter of the Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards that year and was visibly shaken when she read out Olivier's name as the winner.
* Stanley Holloway was an 11th-hour choice; the actor who was supposed to play the grave digger, F.J. McCormick, died shortly before filming.
* At $2 million, this was a very expensive production in its day.
* Initially, Olivier was not keen on producing "Hamlet". Although he wanted to repeat the success of The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), he found that the Danish play was the only really viable choice, as Orson Welles had just done Macbeth (1948) and was prepping The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952). By casting himself in the lead, however, he was able to secure the necessary financing.
* This is the first of many films that Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee would do together, including once where Cushing played Dr. Frankenstein and Lee was the Monster, and three times where Lee played Dracula and Cushing played Van Helsing.
* This is the only major film version of "Hamlet" that entirely omits the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Olivier was severely criticized for leaving them out of the film, as they provide many opportunities for Hamlet to behave in a sarcastically humorous way toward them, and many felt that Olivier probably would have played these moments brilliantly.
* Olivier played the voice of Hamlet's father's ghost himself by recording the dialog and playing it back at a reduced speed, giving it a macabre quality. Many references inexplicably credit the voice of the ghost as being performed by John Gielgud, but Olivier actually disliked working with Gielgud and turned down his request to play the Chorus in his film of Henry V.
* Greatly influenced by the inventive camera effects that Orson Welles and Gregg Toland pioneered in Citizen Kane (1941), and by the psychological reinterpretations of the play that were being floated at the time.
* Olivier didn't attend the Academy Awards ceremony in which he won two Oscars as he was performing in a play in London at the time with his wife, Vivien Leigh.
* Some of Fortinbras' lines from the play were given to Horatio. Fortinbras does not appear in this film version of "Hamlet".
* This was the first sound film version in English of the play.
* Because they wanted to aim at a wider public in their film adaptation of "Hamlet" than they had in their 1944 film version of "Henry V", Olivier and text adaptor Alan Dent modernized and/or clarified several obscure phrases in the play: "The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn" became "The cock, that is the herald to the morn", "recks not his own rede" became "minds not his own creed", "In the same figure, like the King that's dead" became "in the same figure, like the dead King Hamlet", and "It may be, very like" became "It may be, very likely", among others.
* 'Claire Bloom' auditioned for the role of Ophelia.
* When the movie was released Laurence Olivier said it had been filmed in black and white for artistic reasons. The true reason, as he later admitted, was that "I was in the middle of a furious row with Technicolor".
* Desmond Dickenson had a very maneuverable Camera Dolly specially made for this film with Pneumatic tires (the first of its kind in England).