Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: Hamlet (1948)

Hamlet, well what can I say that has not been said before? It would be very cheesy to say that it's one of the masterpieces of the western culture (but it is), but wait a second this time I have to write about the Best Picture winner movie directed by Sir Laurence Olivier (who also stars as Hamlet).
Well, first of all the adaptation is not flawless at all to be honest. Some important elements of Shakespeare's masterpiece were left out (I guess due to time problems), but apart from those things there was something (and I can't explain what) that was missing from this movie.
It would not be fair though if I said that this version was not great, because it is, it is just not a masterpiece. The first 70-80 minutes are simply breathtaking. That part literally gave me chills and I said "Yes, this is a great adaptation". But after Ophelia becomes crazy the movie slows down and it loses its strength, even though the ending is again able to recreate the brilliance of the beginning (partly).
However, the main reason to see this movie is definitely the brilliant and iconic performance of Sir Laurence Olivier. In the "to be or not to be" scene (which was really unusual but I just loved it), he was just breathtaking. The way he acted with his faces and said the lines, it's just simply marvellous. When he's on screen, the movie really lives and when he leaves it becomes empty. I don't know wheter it was a great idea to put Olivier in the centre of attention that much. Sure his acting's worth it, but sometimes his greatness becomes dangerous for the movie. Nevertheless, a very well-deserved win, one that you really can't complain about at all.
I knew Olivier would be great, but I was incredibly worried how Jean Simmons would solve one of the most difficult parts ever written. Quite well actually, but she did not achieve the greatness she could have. That nomination might have been deserved, because she has her moments.
You can say anything you want, I think the Ghost has the greatest part (Shakespeare wrote it for himself). I know that his presence is minimal, but with so limited time that role offers such excellent opportunities but it might be just me.
The other members of the cast give good and reliable performances, but again as I said it's all about Olivier. And I must also mention his direction, which is definitely nomination-worthy and mostly because of the beginning. I guess the Best Picture win must have been a shock as I think The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was a way better movie.
A question came to my mind: should Hamlet be adapted to the screen? I guess not, because Hamlet is for the stage and everyone should see it there. Now I know what was missing: the theatre. I'm a bit bitter about this movie, because I had so high expectations but I was disapponted eventually.
Grade: 7/10 Laurence Olivier was brilliant though and he's one of the greatest winners.
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Director (Olivier); Best Actor (Olivier WON); Best Supporting Actress (Simmons); Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (WON); Best Costume Design, Black-and-White (WON)

P.S.: I know I promised the 2002 Best Actress Smackdown for today. I don't know when I can do it as I have to see Frida, so sorry.


Louis Morgan said...

Simmons did not win Supporting actress. Olivier is great in it, and it interesting that he won for the dual role of the ghost of Hamlet's father and Hamlet. A great performance but his direction literally was a little too foggy at times. An okay adaptation but not a great one.

joe burns said...

Haven't seen this. Well, I've seen a little bit of it.

dinasztie said...

Oh YEAH sorry I don't know how I wrote it. I guess, my mistake, because I wasn't paying attention.