Movie Mirrors Index


(1948 b 154')

En: 8 Ed: 9

Based on Shakespeare's great tragedy, a prince guided by his murdered father's ghost gets revenge on his uncle who married his mother.

Horatio (Norman Wooland) joins the guard at Elsinore castle and speaks to the ghost of the late king. Laertes (Terence Morgan) asks King Claudius (Basil Sydney) for permission to go back to France. Queen Gertrude (Eileen Herlie) and Claudius urge Hamlet to stop mourning his father and to stay at court. Hamlet is depressed about his mother remarrying so quickly. Laertes says goodbye to his sister Ophelia (Jean Simmons) and warns her about Hamlet. Their father Polonius (Felix Aylmer) gives them advice. Polonius tells Ophelia not to talk to Hamlet. Horatio tells Hamlet that he saw his father's ghost. At midnight Hamlet talks with the ghost, who tells him to avenge his murder by Claudius. Hamlet makes the others swear not talk of this.

Ophelia describes how Hamlet came to her. Polonius tells Claudius and Gertrude that Hamlet is mad, and he reads a letter from Hamlet to Ophelia. Polonius has Claudius and Gertrude listen while he talks with Hamlet. Polonius and Claudius hide as Ophelia talks with Hamlet, who tells her to go to a nunnery. Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England. Hamlet contemplates suicide and wonders what comes after death. Polonius tells Hamlet that actors have arrived, and Hamlet asks them to play The Tragedy of Gonzago. Hamlet advises the actors. He flirts with Ophelia and observes Claudius and Gertrude as they watch the play. A mime shows a king being poisoned in the ear, and the queen accepts the murderer. Claudius cries out for light and runs away. Polonius tells Hamlet that his mother wants to see him. Claudius tries to pray, and Hamlet refrains from killing him then. Polonius hides in Gertrude's room. Hamlet quarrels with his mother and stabs the curtain, killing Polonius by mistake. Hamlet reprimands his mother and then speaks to the ghost. Hamlet asks her to repent and abstain from Claudius' bed. Claudius asks Hamlet where Polonius is. Claudius sends Hamlet to England to be killed.

Ophelia sings and appears distracted. Claudius tells Gertrude that Laertes threatens them. Hamlet sends letters to Gertrude and Horatio that he escaped at sea. Laertes sees mad Ophelia give out flowers, and she drowns herself. Hamlet and Horatio question the gravedigger (Stanley Holloway). Laertes asks for more ceremony, but the priest explains she took her own life. Hamlet challenges Laertes and says he loved Ophelia more. Claudius befriends Laertes, and they plot to kill Hamlet in a sword duel. The fop Osric (Peter Cushing) tells Hamlet that Claudius has bet on him against Laertes. Hamlet tells Laertes that he has misgivings but trusts providence. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes and says he was mad. Laertes chooses a poisoned sword. Claudius puts a poisoned pearl in Hamlet's cup. Gertrude drinks from Hamlet's cup, and Claudius fails to stop her. Laertes wounds Hamlet during a rest. Hamlet gets Laertes' sword and gives him his. Hamlet wounds Laertes, who says he is killed by his own treachery. Gertrude collapses and dies. Laertes tells Hamlet he will die, and his sword is envenomed. Hamlet stabs Claudius to death. Laertes and Hamlet forgive each other. Hamlet asks Horatio to tell his story and dies. Horatio says goodnight to Hamlet.

This version of the classic masterpiece brings out a Freudian interpretation of the inner struggle by a conscientious man facing the challenge that he must act to correct a wrong by the highest power in the land that has also ruined his family.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index