A Reader posted a review at 2008-08-16 12:34:41.
This black and white classic Shakespearian story of Hamlet is set in the medieval period, it portrays the story of the young Danish prince Hamlet (Laurence Olivier) who languishes in depressionafter the sudden, unexplained death of his father, the king. His uncle, Claudius (Basil Sydney) remarries his mother, Queen Gertude (Eileen Herlie) almost immediately after the funeral, only compounding his anger at the loss. To add to the emotional fire within, Hamlet is confronted with the ghost of his father, who reveals that it was his uncle Claudius who poisoned him with hemlock, which sent him to an early grave.Hamlet decides to avenge his father’s death, but first he must prove tHamletView next photohat the new King is indeed the culprit. Broken with sadness and besieged by family members who try to convince him he’s crazy, Hamlet has his work cut out for him. However, Hamlet realizes that he does not want to burn in hell and send Claudius to heaven by killing him. Tragically, his reluctance to seek revenge leads to the death of several people in the court, including Queen Gertrude, Ophelia (Jean Simmons), whom he loves, and Hamlet himself.Olivier’s Oscar winning feat on Shakespeare’s story of madness and murder is definitely a perfect balance between stage and cinema. Internal thoughts of characters which are usually presented on stage as monologues have been replaced with voiceovers while use of dizzying camera to show Hamlet’s inner turmoil is an impossibility on stage. The black and white cinematography and the excellent set design give it a darkly gothic touch; add to this the Victorian getup and period costume, you have a perfect feel of stage. The performances are excellent from all actors, which raises this movie to a different scale. On the down side Olivier as Hamlet is too old for the character who is supposedly a young man, while young Eileen Herlie as Hamlet’s mother Queen Gertrude is too young and hence unconvincing.However, Hamlet had won five Oscars; Best Film, Best Costume, Best Art Direction, Best Adoption and lastly Best Actor (Laurence Olivier) at The Academy Awards of 1949. Laurence Olivier’s take on the play is an undeniable classic despite its shortcomings. It is rather lengthy, but generally rewarding for the Shakespeare fan.