Silent Shakespeare

December 1, 2010 at 1:24 pm (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Asides, Film Adaptations, The Merchant of Venice) (, , )

I love his words. But I also love the stories, and so I can thoroughly enjoy a ballet based on Shakespeare.  I saw Netflix offered The Milestone Collection: Silent Shakespeare and I thought I’d give it a try.

It was interesting. It includes brief (most are one reel — about 10 minutes) renditions of seven plays: King John (Britain, 1899), The Tempest (Britain, 1908), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (USA, 1909), King Lear (Italy, 1910), Twelfth Night (USA, 1910), The Merchant of Venice (Italy, 1910), Richard III (Britain, 1911).

I enjoyed the pace. I found the silent movies, with their lovely music, very relaxing to watch. Yet because the plots are so abbreviated, the stories move right along. Some of the films are incomplete or jump around, but they’re interesting to watch. I like the stylized acting and the facial expressions. It’s fun to watch. Such a different era.

The costumes are nice. I liked seeing actual Athenians dressed in Greek attire in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I enjoyed seeing the Merchant of Venice filmed on location in Venice! Beautiful! Two of the films, King Lear and the Merchant of Venice are tinted with beautiful colors. I don’t know what the process was they used, but the skin remains black and white–only the clothing and some of the backgrounds are vivid. It’s an interesting contrast!

Okay, let’s face it… this is an oddity. I could not always follow the story lines and I admit to fast-forwarding through some of it, but still, I thought it was pretty cool to see these early films!

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  1. Tue Sorensen said,

    I haven’t even seen most of these – but I’ll get to them one day. They are not of immense interest, though…

  2. Tue Sorensen said,

    Oh, finding them is not the problem! 🙂

    What, is netflix free? I thought you paid something every time you watch (stream?) a movie from there…

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      No, it’s a monthly service charge and then you watch as much as you want. Now I think it’s like $10/month for all you can watch streaming. I don’t have a way of streaming to a TV so I still have their DVD mail service. As fast as I mail them back, they mail me a new one. And I can stream stuff onto my computer whenever I want, but I don’t like sitting at my computer watching movies usually. Anyway, it’s a set cost, so once you subscribe, you can watch anything they offer for no further $$.

      • Tue Sorensen said,

        🙂 Sounds like a nice deal! And if they have something like Globe’s LLL, they must have a pretty cool selection of titles!

  3. Chris said,

    I would love to watch Shakespeare without words — I must find a copy and watch it myself!

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      Ha ha… that’s so funny. See my comments above… you can find at least some of them on youtube if you don’t have netflix!

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