This weekend, the Academy Awards will be broadcast and “Best Picture” is always one of the most intriguing categories. Over the years, there have been a lot of good films that have earned the Oscar for Best Picture. Among them is “Hamlet,” which was released in 1948. The movie is, of course, based on William Shakespeare’s classic play.
In “Hamlet,” Hamlet’s (played by Laurence Olivier) mother, Queen Gertrude (played by Eileen Herlie), has just married her late husband’s brother, Claudius (played by Basil Sydney). Hamlet is quite unhappy about this since his dad has only been dead for a relatively short period of time. Shortly after this, his friend, Horatio (played by Norman Wooland) reports that he has seen the late king. Soon Hamlet sees the ghost as well. The ghost tells him the he was murdered by Claudius so that he could be the king. To make Claudius uncomfortable, Hamlet stages a play that involves a murder similar to the former king’s. Meanwhile, he has a complex relationship with Ophelia (played by Jean Simmons).
“Hamlet” is expertly directed by Olivier. He was very well known for doing films based on the works of Shakespeare. As was customary in that era, the movie was filmed in black and white, and it looks fabulous. Also, the set designs are impressive. Much of the story takes place inside of a classic castle.
All of the performances are strong. Olivier gives an excellent performance in the lead role. He masters all of the Shakespearian dialogue. His work won a well-deserved Academy Award. Jean Simmons is also solid as the mentally disturbed Ophelia. Her performance earned an Academy Award nomination.
“Hamlet” is a great choice for fans of the work of William Shakespeare. It easily ranks among the best movie versions of the story.