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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. Written by
Laurence 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. The role is often erroneously reported as being performed by Sir John Gielgud, perhaps because it does sound vaguely like him, but it has been said that Olivier actually disliked working with Gielgud in William Shakespeare films, and turned down his request to play the Chorus in Henry V (1944). If Gielgud had played the Ghost in Hamlet (1948), it would have been the first of three appearances (so to speak) as the character: Gielgud played the Ghost in Hamlet (1964) and ITV Saturday Night Theatre: Hamlet (1970). See more »
So oft it chances in particular men / That through some vicious mole of nature in them, / By the o'ergrowth of some complexion / Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason, / Or by some habit grown too much; that these men - / Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect, / Their virtues else - be they as pure as grace, / Shall in the general censure take corruption / From that particular fault... This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.
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Opening credits prologue:
So oft it chances in particular men That through some vicious mole of nature in them, By the o'ergrowth of some complexion Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason, Or by some habit grown too much; that these men - Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect, Their virtues else - be they as pure as grace, Shall in the general censure take corruption From that particular fault. See more »
The amount of lines taken from this play and used in our everyday conversation is staggering. Like all of the Bard's works, his endurance is not only the mastery of language, but really in storylines that just never get old. Above, everything else, Hamlet is an interesting tale. Olivier's interpretation however, is very dark. Very deliberate. He shies away from the humor completely, and instead takes a slow, purposeful tack. To that, it might not appeal to some. In such a long play and movie, the humor is sorta needed to jostle you a bit, and break the overall bleakness of the tragedy. You don't catch a break here I'm afraid. Id classify this therefore as for more advanced taste, and not for the average moviegoer. Olivier's other two attempts, Henry V and Richard III, specifically the latter, will garner more mainstream appeal.
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