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Hamlet (1948)

7.9
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Prince Hamlet struggles over whether or not he should kill his uncle, whom he suspects has murdered his father, the former king.

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Title: Hamlet (1948)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Niall MacGinnis ...
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Tony Tarver ...
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Russell Thorndike ...
Basil Sydney ...
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Hamlet - Prince of Denmark / Voice of Ghost
Norman Wooland ...
Felix Aylmer ...
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Storyline

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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

murder | revenge | prince | death | denmark | See All (80) »

Taglines:

The motion picture of all time...for all time! (Print ad for re-release 1954)

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 August 1948 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Amlet  »

Box Office

Budget:

£500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Laurence Olivier was 41 when "Hamlet" was released. Eileen Herlie, who played Hamlet's mother Gertrude, was 30. Herlie also played Gertrude on Broadway in 1964 with Richard Burton's Hamlet (1964), which was filmed and shown in a limited release. Whereas she was 11 years younger than her "son" when Hamlet was played by Olivier, she was seven years older than Burton. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: 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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Connections

Version of Hamlet (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Memorable Acting by Olivier in Somewhat Slow-Paced Adaptation
23 May 2001 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

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.


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