HAMLET (Laurence Olivier, 1948)

“This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.” — Laurence Olivier, introducing his film of Hamlet, which he produced, directed and starred in I do not see William Shakespeare’s peerless Hamlet, which was written about 1600 and whose action is set many centuries earlier, as “the tragedy of a […]

HAMLET (Grigori Kozintsev, 1963)

In one of the weirdest developments in DVD-land, Grigori Kozintsev’s powerful, black-and-white Hamlet is now available for us to visit—sort-of: in place of Boris Pasternak’s translation to the Russian vernacular, the English subtitles instead show Shakespeare’s text! Consistency with a vengeance: at least in the English-translated credits, Pasternak’s name has been erased! Perhaps he never […]

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

A crowd-pleaser, Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest takes three things from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet: its title—“I am but mad north-northwest,” says Hamlet, “When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw”; its feigning of madness, following Hamlet’s doing this, to which the lines just quoted refer—for instance, the film’s crazily reversed geographic […]

HAMLET (Kenneth Branagh, 1996)

Curiously flat and unfocused, lacking even a discernible theme, Kenneth Branagh’s sumptuous, 242-minute film of Shakespeare’s brilliant tragedy Hamlet must rely on the director-star’s energetic acting to enforce a semblance of unity. The result doesn’t electrify, as does the 1948 Oscar-winner that Laurence Olivier directed and starred in, nor does it achieve the beauty of […]