Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie review: Hamlet

I love Hamlet. It's my favorite of Shakespeare's plays, containing my favorite quote of all time. This is probably the most famous - certainly the most renowned - version of Hamlet. It's very atmospheric. The black-and-white format allows for really artistic shots. The sets are excellent.

Olivier was really too old for the role, but he plays it off well. Several scenes and characters were cut from the play, for the sake of time. I really think they should have filmed the entire play and let the Master do his work. Don't mess with Shakespeare.

And there's my main criticism of the film. Olivier's portrayal of Hamlet as indecisive. I don't believe he was. In fact, he was pretty well set on exacting his revenge from the start. He may have had moments of doubt, and thwarted opportunities, but his motivation was clear.

I didn't care for how his father's ghost was portrayed. Yes, his voice was ghostly, but it was too calm, too reasonable.

Ophelia, and in fact several of the flashback scenes, all played like actors in a silent movie, or one of the early talkies, with overlarge gestures and overinflected voices. If you've seen the Addam's Family tv series, and are familiar with Sister Ophelia, this is the source for the parody. I much preferred Helena Bonham-Carter's take on the role. I did like the drowning sequence. It was very true to the play.

If anything, this movie inspired me to watch all the available film versions of Hamlet for my next 101 things.

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