Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
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Considered by many the finest screen adaptation of Shakespeares greatest work, Grigori Kozintsevs HAMLET is a spare, haunting interpretation based on a translation by novelist Boris Pasternak. The malevolence afoot in the state of Denmark is magnificently captured by the foreboding black and white cinematography and the dark, dramatic score by composer Dmitri Shostakovich. In addition, acclaimed Russian actors Innokenti Smoktunovsky and Anastasia Vertinskaya offer stellar, award-winning performances. Kozintsev, a peer of Eisensteins who worked well into the 1960s, was a master of cinematic technique who finally achieved recognition at the end of his career for his stunning interpretations of Shakespeare. Leading film historian Richard Dyer wrote in the Boston Globe: "Paradoxically, the two most powerful films of Shakespeare plays [HAMLET and KING LEAR] were made not in Great Britain but in the Soviet Union."
- Cine-Notes booklet
Top Customer Reviews
Innokenti Smoktunovski was considered one of the greatest actors in the Soviet Union, and it is easy to see why. His voice is awesome. He moves stupendously. At one level, it is attractive and sexy. At another level, it visualizes the fragility, dignity, and beauty of a human being. The scene of Hamlet dying by the sea--a lone figure leaning languidly against the rock--is one of the most haunting images in film.
Directors and actors too often do `Hamlet' clearly in relation to other `Hamlets', so much so that it can become a bit of a pissing contest--who can do a more fiery or provocative (or popular) version. This Hamlet is free from such baggage. Its authors start from first principles. They focus on creating a work of art in the medium of film. They use the possibilities of film, but the medium never drives the message. Everything--the sets, the close-ups, the camera angles--is there only for artistic expression.
A great work of art is deeply transformative, and this film is.
There are many impressive highlights that support this masterpiece. The spectacular landscapes in which the sea plays a fundamental role, the whole cast, the brilliant narrative rhtyhm, the memorable visual sequences, the amazing Shostakovich's musical score and the tense atmosphere that hover the film from start to finish.
You have to watch this extraordinary adaptation before you die. It's part of the history and the legend of the cinema.
I purchased the Ruscico 2-disc version when it first came out but there were some unpleasant problems:
1. The film is on two discs and requires us to get up in the middle of the movie and put on the second disc. A minor annoyance. (There may be a single disc transfer from Ruscico but I have not seen it.)
2. The video quality is not as good as I would like: a distracting halo surrounds many objects caused by very excessive sharpening filters. It's quite annoying! Also, the color timing makes the black and white somewhat sepia toned. That's ok, not very annoying; some people might like it.
3. The English subtitles are not Shakespeare's original text! They are a translation from the Russian text back into English. The translation is fine but it is definitely not Shakespeare's language. As I read along, I found myself trying to figure out the original text that the subtitles came from. This must be what it is like to read Shakespeare in translation! Well, that's useful, actually, but also annoying after a while. Give us the original Shakespeare, please!
Given the problems with the Ruscico disc, I decided to buy the Mr. Bongo version.
1. The whole movie is on one disc. No need to interrupt the viewing to put on a second disc.
2. Color timing is the normal black and white that we all know. I did not detect a halo around objects. Good! There are two problems, however.
First, this is a PAL encoded disc, region free.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I saw it in Japan when I was nineteen and after 50 some years later, still think it is the best Hamlet I have ever seen,Published 4 months ago by Michiyo Connor
Simple. The best 'Hamlet' ever made and put on the screen. Funny, one should expect the British version should be the best. Read morePublished 11 months ago by georgioA
I recommend that others view this Russian Hamlet with very modest expectations. I did not find this version to live up to the rave reviews posted. Read morePublished 13 months ago by rbrogan3
Wonderful sets, great costumes, artistic cinematography, and a top musical score. I highly recommend this production, even if in Russian with subtitles.Published on April 14, 2013 by w. Oliver
This is a Shakespeare play about the prince of Denmark and tragedy surrounding the family. Many people want to say the prince Hamlet is indecision yet he outmaneuvers just about... Read morePublished on December 8, 2012 by Bernie
Grigori Kozintsev's rendition of Shakespeare's Hamlet is quite remarkable. Although at first it may seem a little odd watching this great work of Shakespeare in Russian, one... Read morePublished on June 5, 2012 by Richard Brzostek
This is a Shakespeare play about the prince of Denmark and tragedy surrounding the family. Many people want to say the prince Hamlet is indecision yet he outmaneuvers just about... Read morePublished on November 18, 2011 by bernie
Gamlet is a 140 minutes, black-and-white film. Music played frequently throughout film and sets the mood of the scene. Many of Gamlet's soliloquies are voiceovers. Read morePublished on November 8, 2010 by Andrew Raker
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