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Although criticized by Shakespeare devotees upon its release because of director, producer, and star Laurence Olivier's decision to excise large portions of the text, his cinematic version of Hamlet is widely considered the best out of several dozens (and counting). Hamlet (Olivier) is a medieval Danish prince who's still melancholy over the sudden death of his father and the quick, subsequent remarriage of his mother, Queen Gertrude (Eileen Herlie) to his uncle, Claudius (Basil Sydney). Informed by the ghost of his father that Claudius murdered him, Hamlet schemes to take revenge.… More

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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