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Hamlet (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama | 12 August 1948 (Australia)
Prince Hamlet struggles over whether or not he should kill his uncle, whom he suspects has murdered his father, the former King.

Director:

Laurence Olivier

Writer:

William Shakespeare (by)
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Won 4 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Laurie ... Francisco
Esmond Knight ... Bernardo
Anthony Quayle ... Marcellus
Niall MacGinnis ... Sea Captain
Harcourt Williams ... First Player
Patrick Troughton ... Player King
Tony Tarver Tony Tarver ... Player Queen
Peter Cushing ... Osric
Stanley Holloway ... Gravedigger
Russell Thorndike Russell Thorndike ... Priest
Basil Sydney ... Claudius - The King
Eileen Herlie ... Gertrude - The Queen
Laurence Olivier ... The Royal Court of Denmark - Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Norman Wooland ... The Royal Court Of Denmark - Horatio, his Friend
Felix Aylmer ... The Royal Court Of Denmark - Polonius,Lord Chamberlain
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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 re-creates the monstrous deed in a play with the help of some travelling 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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 August 1948 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Гамлет See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Two Cities Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In retrospect, many cinephiles believe that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) would have been the rightful winner of the Best Picture Oscar. At the time, however, John Huston's win for Best Director was considered an upset, as Sir Laurence Olivier was primed to be a triple crown winner, having captured two statuettes for his performance and his production. See more »

Goofs

A clock is heard chiming the half-hour in Westminster chimes. If chiming clocks were invented at the time of the action they wouldn't sound the Westminster chimes which date only - as the name suggests - from the installation of the Big Ben clock in 1859. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Version of Sedam Hamleta: Episode #1.3 (1967) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Olivier
16 July 2006 | by winner55See all my reviews

For better or worse, this remains the definitive film version of hamlet.

I confess I'm not happy with that. Olivier re-edits the script considerably. What appear to be continuity innovations simply fall flat for me. The worst instance of this is the famed "to be or not to be" speech (most of it delivered in voice-over), which jumps out of nowhere in this version, apropos nothing. Olivier gets away with this butchery on the basis of his roaring egotism (which finally leads to a roaring Hamlet to the end) and the fact that his is one of the most careful directions of the play-as-film to be found on film.

Which of course leads me to the positive aspects of the film. Simply as a film, it is brilliantly designed and executed. I've rarely felt a film so successfully blend claustrophobia and depth - this is accomplished through careful juxtapositions of scenes of high-contrast black & white with scenes filled with grey fog; only Hitchcock could have done better (but of course Hitchcock would never have made Hamlet).

And although Olivier's performance is really over the top, he wisely makes sure that all the other actors get to come close to that level, especially the actor playing Hamlet's nasty step-dad. So the film vibrates with energy almost from the get-go and all the way to the end.

I keep trying to see every film version of Hamlet i can find, to see if the final, absolutely really and truly definitive version of Shakespeare's play (and not Olivier's version of it) might yet be viewed; but until then, this will have to do.


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