Arguably the most cinematic Shakespeare on film, director Grigori Kozintsev’s radical adaptation of Hamlet began life as a 1954 stage production at Leningrad’s Pushkin Theatre, based on a translation by Doctor Zhivago author Boris Pasternak. For the film version, Kozinstev drastically condensed the original text and (in stark contrast to the celebrated Laurence Olivier version) chose to emphasize Hamlet’s profile as a public political figure over and above his inner, existential conflict. The result is a Hamlet like no other, rooted in a brilliant performance by legendary Russian actor Innokenty Smoktunovsky, magnificently photographed in black-and-white CinemaScope by cameraman Jonas Gritsius, and featuring a stirring original score by Dimitri Shostakovich. OCT 18

“Like Pasternak, whose translation he uses, Kozintsev sees ‘Hamlet’ as a drama of Denmark as well as of the Prince, and he has succeeded in rendering in visual terms both Hamlet’s context and his soul.”
—NYFF2 program note

Screening organized in collaboration with Seagull Films. Print courtesy Lenfilm Studio Archive.