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Shakespeare on Silent Film: An Excellent Dumb Discourse

Shakespeare on Silent Film: An Excellent Dumb Discourse

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Judith Buchanan
Cambridge University Press, 5/14/2009
EAN 9780521871990, ISBN10: 0521871999

Hardcover, 340 pages, 23.4 x 15.7 x 2.1 cm
Language: English

Several hundred films based on Shakespearean material were made in cinema's 'silent' era. What economic and cultural ambitions combined in order to make Shakespeare such attractive source material for the film industry? What were the characteristic approaches of particular production companies and of particular national film industries? How were silent Shakespeare films marketed, distributed, exhibited and received? Through a series of close readings, and drawing upon a wealth of primary research, this engaging account tells an evolving story that both illuminates silent Shakespeare films already known, and brings into critical circulation other films not yet commercially available and therefore little known. Subjects covered include nineteenth-century precursors of silent Shakespeare films, the many Shakespeare films of the Vitagraph Company of America, the blockbuster Shakespeare films of the tercentenary year 1916, Asta Nielsen and Emil Jannings as the stars of German Shakespeare films of the 1920s, and silent films of Hamlet.

Preface
Introduction
wresting an alphabet
1. Shakespeare without words
the nineteenth-century legacy
2. Biograph's pioneering film of King John (1899)
3. Conflicted allegiances in Shakespeare films of the transitional era
4. Corporate authorship
the Shakespeare films of the Vitagraph Company of America
5. Pedigree and performance codes in silent films of Hamlet
6. Shakespeare films of the 1916 tercentenary
7. Asta Nielsen and Emil Jannings
stars of German Shakespeare films of the early 1920s
8. Afterword
'No tongue, all eyes! Be silent'
performing wordless Shakespeare today
Filmography
A. Commercially available Shakespeare films of the silent era
B. General filmography
Bibliography.

'This is an important contribution to the study of Shakespeare on film ... it is meticulous, informative and critically sophisticated, written in a clear, persuasive and elegant style. It brings new ideas and perspectives to familiar films, stimulates interest in others and overall makes an outstanding contribution to its field.' Russell Jackson, University of Birmingham