The view of Hamlet as "a man who could not make up his mind" is a tired stereotype, but Olivier's cinematic accomplishment overpowers the simplistic reading. Twisting, gliding camerawork creates a sense of spatial unity while also emphasizing Elsinore's labyrinthine nature. Unfortunately, Hamlet's sarcastic savagery is not on full display, but he is rendered in beautiful, appropriate monochrome.
Despite a sensible trimming of the text to vernacularise dialogue, it’s the verbal slow-down - all clear enunciation and minimal declaiming - that causes one to be distracted during the wordy exposition. That said, it’s a laudable attempt and in it’s most brilliant moments - often those opened out with Dillon’s expressionistic art direction - is quite beguiling. A good score from Walton too.
There is an incredible number of adaptations on screen of this haunted tragedy...none successed to restitute the dramatic intensity of the text. However this version is a nice attempt . Despite its rather formalistic aspect and its lack of madness this version stands as the best with the muted version (1921). Far more consistent than Branagh's lousy interpretation.
In my opinion this Shakespeare adaption is a great example for using filmic means to underline specific elements of the play. E.g. the camera movements serve as link between different places and close-ups are used to sustain the effects of spoken language and its sound. Also William Walton's score is very good because it intensifies certain moments and increases the meaning of the words.
Shakespeare has never been my cup of tea. The words sound beautiful but I'm unable to truly comprehend any of it. Actors seem to love being involved in Shakespearian works, but I think it usually makes them seem stale and uninspired. The slow pacing doesn't help it at all. A film that has NOT stood the test of time.
I was surprised by just how cinematic this version is, but while some shots and voiceovers help elevate it beyond simply a "filmed play", they also obstruct and worsen the delivery of the monologues. By far one of the least funny Hamlet films but also one the most poetic and heartbreaking.
Beautiful camerawork and splendid atmosphere make this return to the Bard's material worthwhile. I still think that, even despite great films like Ran and Chimes at Midnight, we still don't have a purely cinematic version of Shakespeare. Something that captures his madness and metaphors with images and sound rather than his words. Olivier's adaptation is arguably one of the best attempts at such a potential milestone
Uninspired, dull, simplistic take on Hamlet. There is nothing more flatulent than this film and its inevitable supporters: stuffy, irrelevant academics and, even worse, high school English teachers, who delight in sucking all the joy and spectacle out of Shakespeare, reducing it to idiotic pseudo-Freudian nonsense. And the 'great' Olivier reduces some of the great lines of literature to unbearable nonsense.