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Hamlet (1964)

Gamlet (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 3 May 1964 (UK)
When the king of Denmark dies suddenly, his son, crown prince Hamlet, returns home to find that his uncle Claudius has usurped the throne and married Hamlet's recently widowed mother. Then, one night, Hamlet is visited by his father's ghost who commands him to avenge his murder at the hands of Claudius.


Grigoriy Kozintsev

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy ... Hamlet
Mikhail Nazvanov ... King Claudius
Elza Radzina ... Queen Gertrude (as Elsa Radzina-Szolkonis)
Yuriy Tolubeev ... Polonius
Anastasiya Vertinskaya ... Ophelia
Vadim Medvedev ... Guildenstern
Vladimir Erenberg ... Horatio
Stepan Oleksenko ... Laertes
Igor Dmitriev ... Rosencrantz
Grigoriy Gay ... (as Grigori Gaj)
Rein Aren Rein Aren ... Second Player
A. Krevalid A. Krevalid ... Fortinbras
Yuriy Berkun Yuriy Berkun ... Third Player
Ants Lauter Ants Lauter ... Priest
Viktor Kolpakov ... Gravedigger


When the king of Denmark dies suddenly, his son, crown prince Hamlet, returns home to find that his uncle Claudius has usurped the throne and married Hamlet's recently widowed mother. Then, one night, Hamlet is visited by his father's ghost who commands him to avenge his murder at the hands of Claudius.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Winner of Special Prize 1964 Venice Film Festival




Not Rated | See all certifications »



Soviet Union


Russian | German | French

Release Date:

3 May 1964 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Hamlet See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


It took six months to build a life-size imitation of a medieval castle for the film. The castle was built of logs and veneer, then painted and decorated to mimic the ambiance of the Shakespearian play. The main film set decoration was built in Keila-Joa village, Estonia, then part of the Soviet Union. See more »


During the first round of fencing between Hamlet and Laertes, there is a brief shot in which they are suddenly missing their vests. This occurs two minutes before the shot where they both remove their vests, in preparation for the second round. See more »


Version of Hamlet (1948) See more »

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User Reviews

An Elsinore that looks like a castle . . . and a prison
18 March 2014 | by Red-125See all my reviews

Hamlet (1964) (original title Gamlet) is a Russian adaptation of Shakespeare's play, directed by Grigori Kozintsev. The film stars Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy as Hamlet, and Anastasiya Vertinskaya as Ophelia.

I saw this movie as part of a Shakespeare in Film honors seminar that I'm auditing. It surprised me that I enjoyed this version of Hamlet so much. After all, it was filmed 50 years ago, in black and white, mainly in Estonia, during a period when the Soviet government was monitoring every frame of every movie for possible deviation from the politically acceptable.

Nonetheless, the movie worked for me. Elsinore Castle--artificially constructed, as I learned from IMDb--looked very realistic. Also, the castle had life in and around it. When you think about it, most film Hamlets are shot almost in a vacuum. You don't get any sense that anyone lives in or works in the castle. This Hamlet is the exception-- extras are everywhere, working hard and keeping the castle functioning.

The acting is generally excellent. I was particularly impressed by Anastasiya Vertinskaya (Ophelia). She went on to become a noted Russian film star. This role was a turning point in her career. She's extraordinarily talented. She acts--and appears--like someone who belongs in the setting. She doesn't have the buffed, "I am a star" attitude of many women who play Ophelia.

Prince Hamlet tells us that, to him, Elsinore is like a prison. Kozintsev emphasizes this aspect of the castle. In the beginning of the film, the portcullis closes ominously. Even if you don't know the plot of Hamlet, you know that trouble is ahead after you've seen the first few frames.

Some of he students felt that seeing Shakespeare in translation just doesn't make sense. After all, Shakespeare is the greatest master of the English language. Boris Pasternak apparently translated Shakespeare's language into Russian, but that doesn't help us. I would have thought that the subtitles who have reverted to Shakespeare's English, but they don't. Unless you speak Russian, you have no idea of what the Russian audience is hearing.

Does that mean that all that's left (for us) is the plot? Some of the students thought so, but I disagree. There's a third element besides language and plot--character. Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, and Ophelia all have a distinct character, set down by Shakespeare for us to understand and interpret. I think that in this movie, even though we lose language, Kozintsev allows us to see character. So, even without Shakespeare's language, this film has much to offer us. (Music by Dmitri Shostakovich is an added bonus.)

I saw the movie on the small screen, where it worked pretty well. It would work better in a theater. If it's not playing in revival, watch it on DVD. It's definitely worth seeing, and I highly recommend it.

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