The most obvious and immediate comparison here is with the Olivier Hamlet of 1948, both proving singularly atmospheric with excellent black-and-white photography and music - by William Walton for the British film, by Shostakovich for the Russian version. Obviously, the British film has the advantage of original dialogue spoken in English and an exemplary protagonist, while in the Russian film we follow Shakespeare's original dialogue in the subtitles. Nevertheless, the Russian film has certain advantages, too. Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are entirely missing from Olivier's film, which is a loss in terms not only of drama but also of the fundamental theme of control and the attempt to manipulate an individual's innermost being - a theme the Russians respond to as deeply as the Elizabethans must have felt it. The Russian film finds room not only for all the major characters, but also for the most essential of Hamlet's speeches redolent with a sense of existential disgust. In other words, the sense of what "Hamlet" is about (pardon the simplification) comes through eloquently and compellingly in this Russian film, which is also extremely dramatic thanks to the superb photography and powerful soundtrack, while the actors seem to have taken to heart Hamlet's warning against overacting. In short, both black and white Hamlets are films to have and to return to, by far surpassing any of the more recent versions I have seen.