7.6/10
14,878
87 user 49 critic

Hamlet (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama | 11 June 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)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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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:

Best Picture of the Year! Best Actor of the Year! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the William Shakespeare 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 Sir Laurence Olivier's name as the winner. 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.
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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 »

User Reviews

 
the great moody Dane
17 August 2003 | by didi-5See all my reviews

It stands to reason that Larry Olivier's version of Hamlet is one of the best, and even if he was a little old for the role (in his forties by this time) it really is the perfect role for him.

One or two things to note - the camera angles and shots are often stunning, from above, using angles and shadows, extreme close-ups, and so on. This gives the sometimes ponderous adaptation atmosphere and the black and white photography is gorgeous. Amongst the supporting cast Jean Simmons is a childish, doting Ophelia but this works well. Not working so well are the soliloquies largely within Hamlet's head (and therefore, voiceover). This seems a little gimmicky and only really makes sense with 'To be or not to be'.

That aside, this really is Larry's show and he is brilliant. Despite a few cuts it does the original play proud and is, like Welles' Macbeth and Othello, a truly cinematic reading.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 June 1948 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Hamlet 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
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