Based on Shakespeare's play, Act V, Scene vii: King John is in torment, and his supporters fear that his end is near. As he writhes in agony, he is attended by Prince Henry, the Earl of Pembroke, and Robert Bigot. Prince Henry tries repeatedly to comfort his delirious father, but to no avail - John's pain is too great. Written by
The Smedley family of Birmingham, England were closely involved with the production of both the "King John" production at Her Majesty's Theatre and the "King John" film. W. T. Smedley was chairman of the British Mutuscope & Biograph Company which made the film and which may have invested in the play, his daughter, Constance Smedley, designed the play's 60 performances souvenir programme, which the film company published on Her Majesty's Theatre's behalf and his nephew, William Smedley Aston, was official and exclusive photographer for the stage production. See more »
Perhaps the earliest "Shakespeare" film,...of at least it says it's Shakespeare!
This film purports to be KING JOHN, though you'd really not recognize any of the great bard in this film. Like all the films you would have seen in 1899, it's very, very, very brief (at about three minutes, it's actually longer than many contemporary films). The problem is you really can't do a Shakespeare play in three minutes!! And it's obvious that the director really didn't try to encapsulate the entire film--just one long and very over-done scene. In fact, all the film consists of is a guy dressed like a king apparently writhing in pain (I think he's trying to pass a kidney stone or something). And that's it!!! No plot, no action apart from the writhing and no relationship to KING JOHN or any other play by Shakespeare!
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