Saturday, 21 May 2016
Hamlet: Shakespeare Part Three
Lawrence Olivier's 1948 film version of Hamlet was in stark contrast to the other two we have watched this week, being a traditional rendering of the text, and it is the only Shakespeare to have won the best picture and best actor Oscars. It was interesting to find that though I had only the vaguest notion of the story (from minor references to it in Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters) I had little difficulty in following the language and the plot. I enjoyed spotting the many, many quotes that have become a ubiquitous part of english usage: lots of timeless advice, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" and "to thine own self be true" and a selection of literary and film titles: 'Infinite Jest' and 'Undiscovered Country'. If you check this Wiki page Hamlet is pretty much the most mined of Shakespeare's plays for inspiration for other creators. If you are looking for a version to help you with academic studies you really need to go with the 1996 Kenneth Branagh version which is the only film using the full text, and running to four hours. Experts however seem to agree that the 1964 Russian film, with the text translated by Boris Pasternak, is the definitive performance.