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Hamlet [Blu-ray]

4.5 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Eileen Herlie, Basil Sydney, Jean Simmons, Felix Aylmer
  • Directors: Laurence Olivier
  • Producers: Laurence Olivier
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Oct. 2009
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002KERM28
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,720 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Laurence Olivier directs and stars in this adaptation of Shakespeare's famous tragedy. Hamlet (Olivier), Prince of Denmark, is still mourning over the death of his father and his mother Gertrude's (Eileen Herlie) subsequent remarriage to Hamlet's despised uncle, Claudius (Basil Sydney), who is now King. When his father's ghost appears to Hamlet and reveals that it was Claudius who murdered him, the young prince vows revenge. However, a fatal flaw in his character - hesitation - mars his efforts, resulting in murder, madness and treachery. The film won five Oscars, including Best Actor for Olivier (who was also nominated for Best Director) and Best Film.

From Amazon.co.uk

In the opening scene of Hamlet, Laurence Olivier describes the play in a voice-over as "the tragedy of a man who couldn't make up his mind". But Olivier's screen adaptation is considerably more thoughtful and complex than this thesis would suggest. The contradictions and ambiguities of the title character, who prowls cavernous sets filled with vast, ancient corridors and winding staircases, emerge as if from a dream. The plethora of tracking shots--precise enough to impress Stanley Kubrick--encircle Olivier and his tightly constructed geometry of demise. Drawing on his experience playing the Prince on stage at Elsinore in 1937, the legendary thesp provides the film with the patina of greatness and shows how the constitution of the formerly cheerful Prince weakens increasingly under the burden of his own thoughts and inability to accept his mother's o'er-hasty marriage to uncle Claudius (Basil Sydney). Indeed, if emotions could possess ghosts, Olivier's Hamlet shows how they would manifest themselves. There is even a dollop of Freud, suggesting that Queen Gertrude (Eileen Herlie) has perhaps loved her offspring too closely--thus providing the fuel for Hamlet's actions. As Ophelia, Jeans Simmons captures the character's early spirit better than her gradual disintegration (Helena Bonham Carter fares better in Franco Zeffirelli's fine 1990 remake). Purists may bemoan the loss of Fortinbras, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but these choices allow Olivier to focus more squarely on Hamlet's plight. His monologues, many held in secret enclaves, glow with the dramatic markedness of a Dostoevski novel, with all of the master's irony, allusions and witticisms in place. The winner of four Oscars (Best Picture, Actor, Art Direction, and Costumes), this is a Hamlet for the ages. The rest is silence. --Kevin Mulhall --This text refers to the DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 14 Sept. 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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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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Format: VHS Tape
This was the first film I was taken to see, at the age of 5. I loved it then, and love it now.
Filmed in Denmark, it's a stylish work of art. The sets and cinematography are fabulous, and it boasts a superb score by Sir William Walton.
The magnificent Olivier gives us the most poetic and melancholy Hamlet on film...the way he uses his eyes in this performance is extraordinary, and very moving. Jean Simmons is a delicate and beautiful Ophelia, I like Eileen Hurlie's Gertrude, and Norman Woodland's graceful Horatio is outstanding.
Though the Zeffirelli/Gibson version is my favourite, and Branagh's ever so long uncut version stunning, this one shouldn't be missed...it's the classic of classics...riveting even for a child of 5 !
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I brought this DVD of Laurence Olivier's Hamlet as I am a fan of Olivier and also a Shakespeare buff. I have Olivier's Hamlet on video which I brought some years ago but the quality is not very good. I decided to purchase the DVD from Amazon. The quality of the DVD is much better and so is the sound. I watched the DVD recently and I still admire Olivier's acting as the moody Dane he actually produced and directed as well as taking the leading role. I also have his Richard 111 and Henry V on DVD which I also brought from Amazon a few years ago. To my mind nobody in the film business has ever done Shakespeare for the screen better Olivier brought Shakespeare to the masses with his Henry V and I think he was one of the greatest actors ever in my opinion.
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By A Customer on 23 Jan. 2003
Format: DVD
Perhaps the most impressive of Olivier's Shakespeare films. An utterly individual (and disturbing) atmosphere pervades the entire production. Every aspect seems integrated to a single vision and contributes to an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The brooding sets, William Walton's melancholy music, the black and white film stock and the singularly talented cast coalesce to produce a genuine and characterful period piece.
Of course this is not the only way to do Hamlet. Of course there are cuts and adjustments. But Olivier's vision is effective and his portrayal of the great role is indispensable. Felix Aylmer is a delightfully quirky Polonius and Jean Simmons looks wonderful. The sound and picture quality on DVD is remarkably good for a film made in 1949.
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By Phil on 11 Oct. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Five stars;- the reviewers on the site of the English version of Olivier's Hamlet can attest to why this is so far better than I.
What I am glad to write here is that this is exactly the same version, but with removable French sub-titles, at about one third of the cost!
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Laurence Olivier has for long been considered to have delivered a standard of Shakespearean acting to which all other actors have aspired. Someone once said that he speaks his lines in a natural way as if he had just thought of them. This is quite evident when you hear him. He won an Oscar for his performance in this film. The only downside for me was quality of sound on this Blu-ray disc. It is audible enough but occasionally there is a ‘surface’ noise reminiscent of an old 78 disc. The picture was ok, albeit in black and white. It was also a delight to see the nineteen year old Jean Simmons, in one of her earlier films, playing Ophelia. To sum up, this is a production that should be in everyone's collection.
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