Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1948 - HAMLET, Laurence Olivier version

Shakespeare's tragedy if performed complete can run about 4 hours.  For his film of Hamlet, Olivier cut major chunks of the play but it still logs in at about 2 1/2 hours which is a lot of time watching a film, especially a film based on a Shakespeare play which requires a lot of concentration in this ADD cinema watching age.

This version of the play could probably be called the "watch before I have a test on Hamlet in school." .  The performances are from the classical tradition with actors parading around in big costumes and reciting as if they were playing in a theater.  It's not bad acting, it just seems a little dated.  However Olivier is good as Hamlet he was a very good screen actor with an impressive presence.

This production unlike Olivier's version of Henry the V, is not in color but gloomy black and white.  At times parts of the films are so dark I don't think anybody even bothered to build a set for some of the scenes.  I know this play is a tragedy but things couldn't been that dark and depressing in Elsinore Castle all of the time.

Being the great Shakespeare critic that I am I must say I have always found the finale of Hamlet to be a little contrived.  All that poison sword tip business and poison chalice stuff seems like an easy way to wrap up a very long play.  I think the Bard probably could have used a little bit or a rewrite towards the end.

155 Minutes

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