The perennial problem in filming Shakespeare is what to do with all those stagy settings and backdrops; or alternatively, what to do with all those words, which tend to sound impossibly literary when set off against natural surroundings. Filming entirely in the Round House, where he had previously staged the play, Richardson solves the dilemma by concentrating almost exclusively on faces. Flurries of dark stone, vague impressions of courtiers and rich hangings; but mostly faces lower obsessively from the screen, surrounded by mysterious pools of darkness in which figures stealthily appear and disappear. The reason may be economy, but the result is an extraordinarily naked emphasis on the words and their meaning. Nicol Williamson's Hamlet, not exactly mellifluous but intelligent, mocking and volcanically explosive, is neatly disciplined by this approach; and apart from some roughnesses in the casting (and some curious textual omissions), it's interesting, imaginative, and certainly Richardson's best film.
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