Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Hamlet (1948)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Hamlet (1948, UK)

In actor/director/producer Laurence Olivier's Shakespearean tragi-drama set in 15th Century Denmark - a follow-up film to his own previously-directed and acted bard-film Henry V (1944); its four Academy Awards Oscars included Best Picture, Best Actor, Best B/W Art/Set Direction/Decoration, and Best B/W Costume Design:

  • the famous soliloquy of the bedeviled crown Prince of Denmark Hamlet (Oscar-winning Laurence Olivier) - one of the few lengthy speeches in the film that remained intact from the original play: ("To be, or not to be: that is the question; Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them. To die, to sleep; No more; And by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to - 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; to sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub. For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come....")
  • the gravedigger scene in which Hamlet came upon the skull of an old jester Yorick, someone he knew as a child: ("Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, but now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your songs, your gambols, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? Quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber, tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come; make her laugh at that")
  • the final dueling sequence in which Hamlet engaged in a sword-fight to the death against Laertes (Terence Morgan) when he was slashed in the arm with a poisoned blade (at the same time that his mother Gertrude (Eileen Herlie) was dying after drinking from a poisoned cup); before Hamlet perished, however, he stabbed Laertes in the wrist with his own poisoned blade, and then made an athletic leap (or swan-dive) from a balcony down to the throne where he was able to knock treacherous King Claudius (Basil Sydney) to the ground and viciously stab him in the chest with the 'venomous' sword blade before expiring himself while seated on the throne
  • after kissing deceased Hamlet's forehead, Horatio (Norman Wooland) delivered a few final words to the dead Hamlet: "Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest"

"To Be Or Not to Be" Speech

Grave Digger Scene

Hamlet's Duel Against Laertes

Hamlet's Leap into the Air

Hamlet's Death


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