1961-1970ArthouseDramaGrigori KozintsevUSSRWilliam Shakespeare

Grigori Kozintsev – Gamlet AKA Hamlet [+extras] (1964)



A screen adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy.
The somber Elsinore Castle that keeps secrets of many a crime is looming over the rocky coastline. Prince Hamlet once again puts the question: “To be, or not to be?” He is the first thinker in the line of warriors, a poet and a philosopher, a character so close to future generations. In the utterly corrupted kingdom, a lone hero is bound to take up arms to avenge his father’s death. This film became a champion among Lenfilm Studio’s prize-winning motion pictures – 23 awards in four years. The musical score was written by the great Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich.

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Arguably the finest screen Hamlet of all time, even though the language barrier does somewhat moot comparisons between Smoktunovsky and Olivier, Kozintsev’s film won a special jury prize at the Venice Film Festival and, in 1967, was nominated for a Best Foreign Picture Golden Globe. By no means a “filmed play,” Kozintsev’s HAMLET is profoundly cinematic; it is also swept clean of Freudian accoutrements and treated with somber fervor closer to Orson Welles’ Macbeth. Boris Pasternak’s modern-language translation is used for the dialogue. The tradition of the “active” (read: dissident) HAMLET, with his fixation on the imprisonment motif, would culminate 15 years later at the Taganka Theater, when national folk-singing icon Vladimir Vysotsky (see BRIEF ENCOUNTERS) displaced Smoktunovsky as the ultimate Russian embodiment of the part.
— www.seagullfilms.com

Featuring a positive hero (predictably, the ‘Now might I do it pat’ soliloquy of prevarication has been cut), the action unfolds between shots of lowering rocks and turbulent seas, with Hamlet pattering through a very tangible Elsinore of massive portcullises, stone walls, endless corridors and chunky oaken furniture. A little monolithic in theory, but it works magnificently because Kozintsev has thought his interpretation right through to the end with complete consistency, and gives the film a genuinely exciting epic sweep. What one remembers, though, is the superb marginal detail: the appearance of the Ghost on the battlements, vast black cloak billowing in the wind, like a Titan striding across the sea; the dying Polonius pulling down the arras to reveal row upon row of tailor’s dummies in Gertrude’s wardrobe; above all, the wonderfully moving conception of Ophelia as a frail blonde marionette, first seen jerked into motion by the tinkling music of a cembalo at her dancing lesson, and gradually becoming the helpless plaything of court politics. There’s a genuine cinematic imagination at work here.
— Tom Milne (Timeout Movie Guide)

1964 Special Jury Prize of Venice Film Festival (Won) – Grigori Kozintsev.
1964 Golden Lion of Venice Film Festival (Nominated) – Grigori Kozintsev.
1964 Best film on the Wiesbaden Shakespeare Film Festival.
1964 On the All-Union Film Festival
Special Jury Prize for The outstanding realization of the Shakespeare’s tragedy and best music – Dmitry Shostakovich.
Prizes of the Soviet Union of Painters – E. Yeney, S. Virsaladze.
Prize of the Soviet Union of Cinematographers – Innokenty Smoktunovsky.
1965 USSR State Prize (Won) – Grigori Kozintsev, Innokenty Smoktunovsky.
1966 BAFTA Award for Best Film (Nominated) – Grigori Kozintsev.
1966 BAFTA Film Award for Best Foreign Actor (Nominated) – Innokenty Smoktunovsky.
1966 Special Jury Prize of San Sebastian Film Festival (Won) and Prize of the Nation Federation of film societies of Spain.
1967 Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film (Nominated).

Extras included:
1. Interview — Grigori Kozintsev & Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy
2. The Making Of


Subtitles:English, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, German (idx, sub), English (srt)

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