Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hamlet (Kozintsev) 1964

This is the Soviet version of Hamlet and surprisingly, the best of all. It is in pristine b/w and instead of the usual claustrophobic settings, we have a magnificent medieval stone castle ringed by lapping sea waves, and the repeated image of a bird disappearing into the horizon, like destiny and time, like the brevity of life. The director has broken the shackles of stage and given us pure cinema, without losing the sublimity. The speech is restrained, far from loud rhetoric. Much of the dialog, including the greatest soliloquy happens in the characters mind. It gives the best of Ophelia's, done with conviction dignity and poise, truly haunting as a wraith like apparition . To present insanity is difficult, since it often turns comical. The gravedigger scene, a watershed in the story, mixes profound truth with levity. There is too much here to praise, the musical score not the least. The film has the Slavic stamp with its brooding beauty. Many other versions of Hamlet seem juvenile in comparison. I'm sure this would have delighted the bard himself. Kozintsev has come close to the heart of Hamlet. I look forward to his Lear.

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