This outstanding historical recording made in 1941 for radio is widely regarded as one of the finest Hamlet performances ever, and one of John Gielgud's greatest moments. Though he went on to record it for commercial release, nothing matched this recording in the BBC studios, made before the days of editing.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
Why we think it's Essential: In considering which Shakespeare recording was most essential, we found ourselves caught between Gielgud's
Hamlet and Richard Burton's
MacBeth (which, ironically, was directed by Gielgud). In the end, we chose Gielgud because, as a radio production (unlike Burton's stage performance) it was meant for the ear, not the eye. As a result, Gielgud delivers what may be the best
Hamlet we've ever heard.
"There are many recordings of Shakespeare's most famous play, but now you can enjoy the most legendary of all - the live 1948 broadcast of John Gielgud's
Hamlet. It remains utterly compelling, crystal clear, totally absorbing, with a classic quality that reflects the utter rightness of the interpretation. There is a delightful unscripted moment in Act V when Esme Percy (playing Osric) can be fainly heard calling admiringly "Oh! Oh! He's enchanting," during a brief Gieldgud pause." Christina Hardyment,
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