(Review originally written at 23 July 2008)

The movie features a great and intriguing story, set during the Napoleon era, when England was in war with France. It's a story about love and war. In other words a great typical epic historical drama.

It features a still young Laurence Olivier in an also early role from him. Especially his voice and accent makes him see and sound almost unrecognizable. His acting is great but I also must admit that his acting improved more over the years. He probably is one of my favorite actors of all time actually. Vivien Leigh still gives the best performance of the movie and her character carries the movie. No big surprise of course, since this movie is an autobiographic one about Emma Lady Hamilton, the character played by Vivien Leigh, who is historically known as the mistress of Lord Horatio Nelson. Of course the acting is quite melodramatic at parts but that is due to the movie its time settings and genre and the time period it got made in. The movie got made shortly after Laurence Olivier en Vivien Leigh got married together. A marriage that would last for 20 years, which is quite long for an Hollywood marriage, even an early one.

It's a great written movie with wonderful dialog in it. It's a story that is being told with lots of class and pace, ensuring that the movie gets never dull in parts. It also really isn't as melodramatic as you perhaps would expect from a movie from within such a genre and time period it got made and set in. Quite surprised it didn't get nominated for any important Oscar's at its time. Perhaps it was because due to the very reason that the movie wasn't as typical and melodramatic as most other movies of its time. But oh well, it got released in a tough year, with other nominees such as "Citizen Kane", "Sergeant York" and "The Maltese Falcon". It still did get nominated for 4 Oscar's though, of which best cinematography, black-and-white, was the most important one. It only won the one for best sound, recording.

But it's not hard to see why this movie still got mostly nominated in the visual categories. The movie is a great looking, not only due to its settings but also its costume design, sets and of course most importantly it's nice dynamic camera-work, that in parts also seemed quite modern for its time. 
Cinematographer Rudolph Maté would receive a total of 5 Oscar nominations during his life and career but he unfortunately never won any. Oh well, at least he still had a great career, with also some great classics behind his name, such as "Stella Dallas", "The Lady from Shanghai", "Dodsworth", "Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey" and really many, many more.

Even though the movie is just 2 hours short, it feels much longer because the story is so epic and so many things happen in it. The movie is also set at many different location in Europe, which enhances the movie its epic feeling.

A great, grand romantic drama, based on real events.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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