Awakened very, very early this morning, a little before 3AM, and knowing I was now wide awake, rose, made coffee and spent the next two hours watching, “Nostradamus Decoded.” Fixed an omelet with toast and dove into housework. It was therapeutic for my soul is not for my back; a throwback to the days when nothing else was done until housework was finished. Heavens, this place had become a pigsty. Tomorrow I will dust the living room–all if vacuumed but I always vacuumed first then dusted since I think the former only makes the latter fly. Then, what riches followed.
I had taped a number of movies this past week, favorites like, “Rebecca,” “Spellbound,” and “Notorious,” that I will probably save for tonight–what better movie to watch on a Saturday night than this tale of intrigue and love with the incomparable pairing of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant–with Claude Rains thrown in–riches.
But I’m straying. I also taped Olivier’s, “Hamlet,” a movie I had never seen in its entirety, actually hardly any of it, and after the housework was done, lunch was eaten, mistakenly thinking I was in the mood to watch Boris Karloff movies, turned them off and went to, “Hamlet.” This now joins the upper tier, which is getting pretty crowded, of my all time favorite movies. The spell it wove is still upon me. I have often said that given a few exceptions I have found Olivier to be a ham onscreen in films, one exception being, “That Hamilton Woman.” Not so in this version of “Hamlet.” Because seeing him in this was watching a master at work. He was perfection, his direction of this film was perfection and it still stands as the only Shakespearean play made into a movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture, along with his most deserved Best Actor Oscar. Jean Simmons as Ophelia was no slouch either. The scenes of Ophelia’s madness were brilliant, as was her emotional collapse during the get thee to a nunnery scene. I sat there savoring every beautiful word of every line spoken, drinking in the atmosphere,surprised pleasantly so that some of the bawdier lines made it into this 1940’s production that was not without the incestuous overtones of the closet scene, but done just enough to know when to stop. It wasn’t exactly overt, but just raised the question, or perhaps it was the pure fury that led to unexpected emotions…don’t know, but gracious this was masterful. It was so perfect, I stopped it for a few minutes because for some reason it just cried out to be watched with a hot mug of perfect French roast, and that was a perfect accompaniment.
We studied, “Hamlet,” in high school, and I remember sinking my teeth into utterly. The entire play was in my senior year Literature book that I somehow managed to hang onto after graduation. It was entitled, “England in Literature,” and I went mad reading it. The cover was simply a closeup of green frothy waves that captured the contents beautifully–actually, they were more than frothy, it was a turbulent sea. I had that book for many years, and one night, about twenty years ago, I took it down and started reading, “Hamlet” again. I didn’t stop until I had finished. Alas, Yorick, that book, too was ruined during the WHWTMA. It was such a beautiful book, and I remember when we had finished studying Hamlet and had to write an essay about it, I chose to write a character analysis of the Melancholy Dane and his motivations and I received a A with the note from my teacher who was extremely hard to please, “This was quite good!” My sweet, this is no play to ignore or avoid. It would be like giving up woodworking because at first you couldn’t snag an apprenticeship.
Wish I had my old Ophelia bed linens.
This was a very satisfying day in more ways than one. Think I will just something very light, a skinned chicken breast and maybe make some crostini…I have smoked Mozzarella,,,let’s see.
I never saw Olivier on stage, and I know that was his first love, perhaps snobbish, but we’re all entitled to our opinions, I don’t know how he was or wasn’t, but with this film, I am completely blown away.