Thursday, August 31, 2006

Criterion Masterpieces.4

I have heard many people's opinions on how they think that compared to Kenneth Brannagh's Hamlet Olivier's is too brooding, quiet and humourless. I would like to tell everyone now that Olivier's style of acting is a unique style, one that in roles such as Hamlet is entirely intricate. I would like to now give the non-biased comparisons between Olivier and Brannagh's Hamlet. Olivier's silences hold you captivated. Brannagh's silences do not, because he never stops talking. Olivier's words are poignantly spoken and beautifully placed. Brannagh's words are spoken sometimes indifferently, and other times with so much gusto its overacting.

For those who've never read the play or have seen it or studied in school, Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. He's Hamlet Junior. His father Hamlet Senior was the king and the king has died. But at the beginning of the play, Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father and the father tells him he was murdered by his brother Claudius. Claudius took the title and married Hamlet's mother Gertrude. All this was done while Hamlet was away at school in Wittemberg.

The film is moodily photographed in black and white. Olivier wanted to use color, but J. Arthur Rank wouldn't spring for it. So he made due with black and white and the lights and shadows of Elsinore castle as shown almost make this version a kind of Shakespeare noir.

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