The 1917 silent film Amleto (The Italian name for Hamlet) is regarded as one of the best Shakespeare films in existence and yet, it has hardly been screened since its original run nearly 100 years ago.
In contrast to earlier silent film adaptations of Hamlet, which were often in thrall to the theatrical tradition, Italian director Eleuterio Rodolfi’s 1917 adaptation applies an altogether more cinematic approach. No mere stage play performed before the cameras, it’s distinguished by its consistent sense of the visual - the camera constantly engaged and alert to the nuances of the action. The film also represents an incredibly rare record of one of the most important stage actors of the late 19th and early 20th Century - the Italian born Ruggero Ruggeri - classed amongst the most important actors to play Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark and one of the pioneering figures in early Italian film and theatre. And although the acting is redolent of the theatre, there is a real sense of place and time - the royal court scenes in particular in which the interrelationships integral to the drama emerge naturally and convincingly – was an incredible feat for a Shakespearian film made at the time.
Don’t miss this very rare screening of one of the cinema’s most celebrated adaptations of one of Shakespeare's most vital plays. The film will be presented from a 35mm print (courtesy of the British Film Institute) with live piano accompaniment by composer Neil Brand, and feature an introduction by film historian Luke McKernan, followed by a Q&A.
Please note: The BFI print being used for this screening has French intertitles; however there will be audio translation at the screening.
This event is produced by South West Silents and is supported by BFI Film Audience Network and Film London. Part of BFI presents Shakespeare on Film programme.