Monday, August 19, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1909)

This 1909 silent adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is the first filmed version:

It is directed by Charles Kent and J. Stuart Blackton and stars Dolores Costello ('Dearest' Erroll in the 1936 Little Lord Fauntleroy and Isabel in The Magnificent Ambersons among many others), her sister Helene Costello (in her 2nd film) and Florence Turner (who was in films from 1907–1943). It's delightful to watch. There are intertitles to explain the upcoming action. The sets are exterior locations, appropriately enough. I'm always impressed by early special effects.

Weird Wild Realm calls it "very pretty to watch" and says, "This is truly a film that speaks in the language of silent cinema, not the stage, but carries also some of the glamour of even older Victorian fairy illustration" and closes with this: "This film was an enormous success in the Christmas season of 1909, & easy to see why it was so. Even today it can charm child & adult alike, & in its time it must've been just about the most exciting fantasy film imaginable." MSN has an overview.

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