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In his brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare's masterpiece, Olivier gives a powerful, poetic performance as Prince Hamlet of Denmark, who struggles with the problem of avenging his father's murder. Striking visual imagery is masterfully combined with the spoken word to create a psychologically complex portrait of the brooding Prince.

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Sir Laurence Olivier's masterful version of the classic."
‑ , TIME Magazine
"The matter is settled; the filmed Hamlet of Laurence Olivier gives absolute proof that these classics are magnificiently suited to the screen."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"So stylistically influenced by Welles that it might have been called Citizen Dane."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Hamlet has been filmed many times, but few can hold a candle to Olivier's portrayal of the Danish prince in 1948."
‑ , Film4
"Olivier's Hamlet is terrific to watch and his performance is great but, like the play, the film is somewhat tedious."
‑ Wesley Lovell, Cinema Sight
"Despite winning several Oscars, Olivier's (condensed) version of Shakespeare's masterpiece makes for frustrating viewing."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Laurence Olivier's famous 1948 interpretation of Shakespeare's play suffers slightly from his pop-Freud approach to the character and from some excessively flashy, wrongheaded camera work."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"This Hamlet, a Best Picture winner, unfortunately stands as one of the stagier productions of the famous play."
‑ Christopher Null, Filmcritic.com
"One of the best versions of the Bard's."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Done in different style than Henry V, based on Olivier's metaphor that Hamlet is more like an engraving than a painting, the play was hauntingly shot in b/w, dwelling on the Castle and its massive and gloomy corridors where the action takes place."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"This is picture-making at its best, and its showing must be done with the dignity it deserves."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Laurence Olivier directed and stars in this astonishing Shakespeare adaptation."
‑ Tom Hutchinson, Radio Times
"Olivier's classic and personalised version of the troubled Prince of Denmark is still highly atmospheric and intriguing."
‑ David Parkinson, Empire Magazine
"Olivier always felt that each different Hamlet is an essay, subject to the individual's interpretation."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A valuable classic."
‑ Jules Brenner, Cinema Signals
More reviews for Hamlet on Rotten Tomatoes