Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hamlet (1948)

Ever read a play so much that the amount of seeing a cinematic adaptation that would have thrilled you otherwise is severely diminished? (What sentence construction!)

Anyway, I don't know that it would have helped all that much in this case. In fact, I think, due to the Shakespearean dialect, I would have been lost had I not known the play at length beforehand.

But this was Laurence Olivier's baby, and considering his reputation as the arrogant-but-somewhat-unchallenged "Greatest British Actor", it's not like they could have told him no, and apparently it worked out, with this film winning Best Picture at the '49 Oscars.

Olivier is the titular prince, obviously, with excellent character actors filling in the rest of the parts (Eileen Herlie as Gertrude (who was 28 (!) to Olivier's 41), Basil Syndey as Claudius, the delicate Jean Simmons as Ophelia, and, among others, Peter Cushing as Osric, with Christopher Lee in an apparent small role, and John Gielgud supplying "The Voice".)Other than a few exciting setpieces, specifically those pertaining to the pivotal play, and the fact that my favorite scene is brightened up by one of my favorite actors (the gravedigger scene, and he, the delightful Stanley Holloway), the camera rarely moves all that much, and the entire film has a very stage-bound, theatrical feel to it.

Not much more to say for this one. You know the play. You know the creator of the film. If you think you'll like it, that's your call.

2/5, #9 in my 11 of '48

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