Hamlet (1948 film)

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Hamlet is a 1948 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, adapted and directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier. Hamlet was Olivier's second film as director, and also the second of his three Shakespeare films. It is the only one of Olivier's directorial efforts to be filmed in black and white, and was the first British film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.[1] It is also the first sound film of Hamlet in English.

Olivier's Hamlet is the Shakespeare film that has received the most prestigious accolades, winning the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. However, it proved controversial among Shakespearean purists, who felt that Olivier had made too many alterations and excisions to the four-hour play by cutting nearly two hours worth of content. Milton Shulman wrote in The Evening Standard "To some it will be one of the greatest films ever made, to others a deep disappointment. Laurence Olivier leaves no doubt that he is one of our greatest living actors...his liberties with the text, however, are sure to disturb many."[2]

Contents

Plot

The film follows the overall story of the play, but cuts nearly half the dialogue, and includes an opening voice-over that represents Hamlet's fundamental problem as indecision.

The film begins with a narrator (actually Olivier himself) quoting some of Hamlet's lines from Act I Scene IV:

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