February 8th, 2017

HAMLET (1962) **

I can’t say I’m a big Shakespeare fan, but I do have an appreciation for the Bard, being a former English major and all. Having said that, I’m not sure I would have sat through this horribly dubbed adaptation made for German television if it hadn’t been on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s an often dreary and slow moving version of the oft-filmed tale.

Maximilian Schell stars as the brooding Hamlet, the only real name in the cast. That is unless you count Ricardo Montalban, who provides the voice of Claudius in the dubbed version. Just hearing Khan’s cold, threatening voice performing Shakespeare throughout keeps you watching. Schell, who provided his own voice, isn’t bad. He is clearly the best actor in the whole play, but he is unable to carry the whole thing on his shoulders.

This is a play by the way, and not a real movie. It’s like a cheap episode of Playhouse 90. The whole set is comprised of a couple of pillars (that are rearranged after each scene) and two chairs that act as a throne. The dingy black and white cinematography adds to the overall dreariness and the director’s decision to hold on actor’s reaction shots while another person speaks endlessly is odd to say the least (although I’m sure it saved a pretty penny in the dubbing room).

I’m sure there are worst adaptations of the play out there. Schell alone keeps it from being a total snooze. I just can’t imagine watching it without the benefit of Mike and the Bots though.