Such stuff as dreams are made on... In the early days of cinema, pioneer filmmakers created these seven charming, moving and magical films based on the plays of William Shakespeare. Considered a "lowbrow" medium, the fledgling movie industry sought to elevate its status by immortalizing the classics and hiring the greatest actors of the day. As most of these early photoplays were only one or two reels long, adapting the Bard proved to be both challenging and inspiring. Digitally restored by the British Film Institute, this disk features:||KING JOHN|This British offering was created in 1899, truly the dawn of filmmaking. To date, this is still one of the least produced of Shakespeare's plays but this film clocks in at around 2 minutes. It no way fills the void. The entire piece depicts the death scene from the play.||THE TEMPEST|This 1908 British offering runs about 12 minutes and captures most of the major plot elements of the play minus the language. THE TEMPEST is peppered throughout with visual effects (the sinking of the ship is hysterical in today's CG world.) One of the more cohesive offerings here.||A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT'S DREAM|The USA joins the pack with 1909's faerie tale. Title cards are used here to explain what viewers will see in the next few minutes running the entire 12 minutes of screen time. They aggressively tackled the stories magical moments including flying faeries. One particularly clever effect has the actress fly halfway around the world. In the end, Bottom the tailor has his head restored (It was replaced by a donkey's) and we must guess alls well that ends well.||KING LEAR |This clever 16-minute offering from Italy was created in 1910. It takes the story of King Lear and removes all sub-plots leaving just the false love and betrayal by two of his three daughters. This makes the story told clearer than the others. But it is the meticulous 'coloring' that makes this stand out. Cloaks and clothing were colored frame by frame with bright contrasting tones offering a livelier quality.||TWELFTH NIGHT|Also in 1910, the USA gave us this tale of shipwrecked twins and the lovewrecks that are caused because of it, and in 12 minutes time. Straightforward in its story-telling, this is easy to follow. Using pre-existing settings and costuming would make this one called "low budget".||THE MERCHANT OF VENICE |The Italian crew who created KING LEAR also gave the merchant a go in 1910. Running about 9 minutes, most of the plot twists are gone, just the basic setup and resolution remain. This is similar in style to their previous effort but the existing print is extremely choppy (unless it was edited that way...)||RICHARD III |We close out this DVD with the 1911 British re-telling of the deformed King. At 23 minutes this is a virtual epic compared to the others. But, it is also one of the least coherent as Richard's treacheries were always punctuated by dastardly dialogue. Near the end, his sleep is interrupted by the ghosts of all that he had killed in another example of early special effects. This is virtually a filmed stage production as the sets are all painted backdrops with no attempt to mask the borders.
|В оригинале:||Silent Shakespeare|
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