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Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet
Actors: Innokenti Smoktunovsky, Mikhail Nazvanov, Elze Radzinya, Yuri Tolubeyev, Anastasiya Vertinskaya
Director: Grigori Kozintsev
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2006     2hr 20min

Considered by many the finest screen adaptation of Shakespeare?s greatest work, Grigori Kozintsev?s HAMLET is a spare, haunting interpretation based on a translation by novelist Boris Pasternak. The malevolence afoot in th...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Innokenti Smoktunovsky, Mikhail Nazvanov, Elze Radzinya, Yuri Tolubeyev, Anastasiya Vertinskaya
Director: Grigori Kozintsev
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Facets
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/31/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1964
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1964
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 20min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Russian
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Greatest Hamlet
MK | Vancouver, Canada | 11/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I do not say this lightly. The visual language is unforgettable: the crashing waves, the jagged cliffs, the colossal menacing castle, and amidst it the supreme elegance of Hamlet. Kozintsev is a master of black-and-white. This film has to be in black-and-white. The shades of gray need to be there: the alternately glittering and raging grays of the waves, the mysterious grays of the rock, the deadening gray of the castle, and the slender figure of Hamlet in stark black-and-white contrasted against them. The score by Shostakovitch is shatteringly intense, and it too has to be this way.

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.

By far the best screen adaptation.
MMM | 09/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"From the first scenes, implicitly conveying the fact of the royal death, and Claudius' monolog, split between a herald reading a decree at a town square, courtiers repeating "in equal scale weighing delight and dole" and foreign ambassadors echoing them in their respective languages, and finally the king himself addressing his advisors - you know you are watching a work of a master. Of the three most popular screen adaptations, the classic Olivier's, the roaring Mel Gibson's and the Kenneth Branagh's parody, none is even close to this one. The excellent set and costumes, great acting, outstanding dark, gothic-like black-and-white camera work, Shostakovich's music - everything tells of a masterpiece. Of course, limitations of a screen play are obvious - lots of great lines omitted, added scenes (such as Hamlet on his way to England forging the king's letter, which was borrowed later by Tom Stoppard for his Rozenkrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead) - but it's the ultimate screen play nonetheless."
Why buy this...?
B. F. Walker | Noam, AK | 07/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I just recently picked up this DVD from my local public library, and for once I was glad I did. If you purchase one of these, you'll be stuck with this banal, generic ad that plays at the beginning. ("Ever feel like you're in a Jim Jarmusch picture?") Also, I noticed that this version uses fewer subtitles than the European DVD, and some of Shakespeare's best lines are thrown out. But the film itself cannot be faulted for anything. It puts similar attempts at adaptation by Branagh, Zeffirelli, Olivier, and even Welles to shame. This is the only Shakespeare film I've seen where I can point to any scene and say, "THAT's the way it happens in the play"--especially the disinterment of Yorick's skull. See it if you haven't, but be sure you've read the play first, because for all its strengths. this is no substitute for the text of Old Bill."
A. J. Papprill | Manukau, New Zealand | 05/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Kozintsev's HAMLET is described as "arguably the most intelligent and certainly the most contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare for the screen". This is a description I certainly wouldn't argue with the film certainly resonates with the energy and power of great film making and inspired acting even now 40+ years since its release."