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Shakespeare Unplugged

In Silent films I like on September 9, 2009 at 5:33 am

Watching a collection of silent adaptations of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.  Early works: 1899-1911 and short: under 20 minutes a piece.

Yes, silent Shakespeare seems like the worst idea ever — it’s an understatement to call Shakespeare “verbal” — but, watching this, you remember that plays like “The Tempest” and “Midsummer’s Night Dream” have a lot of magic in them.  This allows liberal use of shot-action photography so stuff can disappear.  and back-winding for double-exposures  — new and exciting tricks of the day.

On the other hand, it is extremely weird to see these actors gesticulating in silent film manner, and know that they are speaking some of the greatest dialogue in English literature.

King John“King John”, 1909.

Especially worth viewing are “King Lear” (1911) and “Merchant Of Venice” (1909), both Italian; the hand-tinting is among the most beautiful I’ve seen.

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