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Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Film (Blu-ray+DVD) BFI


From King John in 1899, film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays proved popular with early filmmakers and audiences. By the end of the silent era, around 300 films had been produced. This feature-length celebration draws together a delightful selection of thrilling, dramatic, iconic and humorous scenes from two dozen different titles, many of which have been unseen for decades.

See Hamlet addressing Yorick’s skull, King Lear battling a raging storm at Stonehenge, The Merchant of Venice in vibrant stencil colour, the fairy magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and what was probably John Gielgud’s first appearance on film, in the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. These treasures from the BFI National Archive have been newly digitised and are brought to life by the composers and musicians of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

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Special Features

Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Introduction to Silent Shakespeare (2016, 9 mins)
Play On! Making the Music (2016, 10 mins)
King Lear (1910, 13 mins, silent with commentary by Judith Buchanan)
The Winter’s Tale (1913, 43 mins, silent with commentary by Judith Buchanan)
Living Paintings (Romeo and Juliet) (1924, 1 min, silent with commentary by Judith Buchanan)
Silent Shakespeare (2004, 88 mins): programme of silent Shakespeare films with music by Laura Rossi and commentaries by Judith Buchanan
Illustrated booklet with new writing by Bryony Dixon and Bill Barclay


Bluray, DVD