Hamlet 1948

Amazon Instant Video

(35) IMDb 7.9/10

Thoughtful and complex, Laurence Olivier delivers one of his greatest Shakespearean performances as Hamlet. He shows how the prince falls apart under the burden of his thoughts and inability to accept his mother's marriage to his uncle. Olivier's brilliant monologues bring out all the master's irony and wit.

Starring:
Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons
Runtime:
2 hours 26 minutes

Hamlet

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Laurence Olivier
Starring Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons
Supporting actors Eileen Herlie, Basil Sydney, Norman Wooland, John Laurie, Esmond Knight, Anthony Quayle, Harcourt Williams, Patrick Troughton, Tony Tarver, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Stanley Holloway, Russell Thorndike
Studio ITV
BBFC rating Universal, suitable for all
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By gerrard on 7 Feb 2013
Format: Blu-ray
I thought that the picture and sound quality was a big improvement on the old dvd versions.the picture is in its original aspect and there are optional english subtitles.only a trailer and some stills as extras and no commentary track but the film is the important thing and it has nice clear audio and improved picture.at just under 7 quid it's a must have for fans of Laurence Olivier.one slight annoyance,there is a two minute ad for itv releases at the start of the blu-ray which cannot be skipped but thankfully can be fast forwarded through to get to the disc menu
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Mar 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Shakespeare's adaptation of a fable about an indecisive young Scandinavian with a thing for his mum has a better claim than anything else to be the greatest literary work of all time. But what about Olivier's vain interpretation of the same?
One scholar wrote of it: "this is a movie about which the reviewer cannot make up her mind", referencing Olivier's spoken introduction. Like most stage productions, it abandons large chunks of text - most notably the whole Rosencrantz and Guildenstern plot. (For more on this, see Gary Oldman and Tim Roth in Tom Stoppard's indispensable Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.) Also dropped is my own favourite soliloquy - "How all occasions do inform against me", which is one of the set-pieces of Branagh's recent venture.
That said, the story which so compelled Mel Gibson, Ethan Hawkes (recently), Richard Burton and countless others is one that bears endless retellings. And Olivier is known as one of the century's great actors with good reason. Despite the cuts and occasional ham performances, it is one of the ultimate works of art interpreted by one of the greatest actors we have a record of. A sometime paradox. Watch it.
The rest, of course, is silence.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Sep 2002
Format: DVD
Olivier's film of Hamlet is not perfect, but it is unlikely to be excelled. No present-day director, of sufficient intellect or skill to match it, would want to try; and there is no living English-speaking actor with the physical presence, voice or mastery of Shakespeare's language to fill the role. Any apparently negative judgements here are made in the context of a standard so far unequalled. There is no point in discussing Olivier's cuts or re-arrangements of the text; his film is an entertainment, not an academic exercise, and anyone who is not a moron will be handsomely entertained. The pace is somewhat sedate, until the cathartic final bloodbath, but the ghost is gripping and effective enough from the start to engage the viewer with the action. There is a strongly Victorian, neo-Gothic feel to the magnificent staging and rich costumes, reinforced by deliberate emulation of Millais' 1852 painting of the drowning Ophelia. The costumes benefit from the black and white photography, avoiding the technicolour garishness which obtrudes in Olivier's later Richard III. Modern viewers may think Hamlet should show a rather more feverish and agitated distraction, but this is not a serious fault. What, then, are the major flaws? First, the introduction ("this is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind"), which is completely unnecessary, off-putting, and almost silly. It should be removed. Second, although the acting of the supporting players (especially Eileen Herlie, and including Jean Simmons, whose touchingly fragile Ophelia has sometimes been disparaged) is generally excellent, Terence Morgan as Laertes is weak and mechanical, particularly in the early scenes. He cuts a spirited figure in the duel, but is otherwise unconvincing.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Davidson VINE VOICE on 24 Dec 2007
Format: DVD
Having just finished reading the play,I was keen to view this classic 1948 film of "Hamlet" which stars Laurence Olivier as the tragic Danish prince. The film is fairly faithful to the play and it's acting and direction are both first rate. I thought that everything about this film seemed to convey Shakespeare's vision of the play perfectly ,especially the gothic citadel of Elsinore and it's rich tableau of characters .The plot of "Hamlet" is well known; Hamlet succumbs to madness after the ghost of his father asks him to avenge his murder by his brother (Hamlet's uncle) ,the new king. This madness appears to be the result of Hamlet's indecision and inaction in response to the ghost's request. Should he plot bloody revenge on his father's killer as the ghost demands ,or should he do nothing ? To be,or not to be. Should he give in to evil or not ? Sadly Hamlet yields to the bloody appeals of the ghost and a series of untimely deaths bring this dramatic story to it's conclusion. This film version of "Hamlet" is excellent and it still makes for captivating viewing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bernie VINE VOICE on 5 Feb 2006
Format: DVD
A play by William Shakespeare. The story is of the decision and indecision of the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, he is informed of an evil deed "Murder most foul" by the ghost of his father. The perpetrators are his uncle and mother who remarry before the funeral meats are cold. How will Hamlet cope and are there further plots against him?

Just as when you think about the Ten Commandments, you think of Charlton Heston as Moses in "The Ten Commandments" (1956). Everyone knows that Hamlet looks like Laurence Olivier. There are longer and flashier versions out now, many quite good however this is the one that will always come to mind. I will not attempt to interpret the meaning behind the story however most of the acting and all of the words are quite clear. If you are afraid of misinterpreting the play, take a course on it. Otherwise this will play stands on its own merit and you will be fascinated.
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