IMDb > A Midsummer Night's Dream (1909)

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1909) More at IMDbPro »

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Release Date:
25 December 1909 (USA) See more »
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Plot:
In ancient Athens, four young lovers escape into the woods. Meanwhile, tradesmen rehearse a play. All of them suffer from the shenanigans of mischievous fairies. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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Shakespeare Legitimizes Cinema See more (7 total) »

Cast

 

Directed by
Charles Kent 
J. Stuart Blackton (co-director)
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Eugene Mullin  scenario
William Shakespeare  play

Produced by
J. Stuart Blackton .... producer
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Runtime:
12 min
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Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The film was shot in the summer of 1909 but held back for release on Christmas Day.See more »
Quotes:
Title Card:[last title card]
[SPOILER]
Title Card:Penelope discovers the mischief that has been done. She restores the weaver to his normal shape and happily unites the lovers.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Shakespeare Legitimizes Cinema, 26 August 2009
Author: Cineanalyst

The Vitagraph Company produced at least nine film adaptations of Shakespeare's works during 1908-1909, and they were behind the 1910 "Twelfth Night" also included on the Silent Shakespeare video. According to historians Roberta E. Pearson and William Uricchio, thirty-six such one-reel adaptations were made in the US alone from 1908-1913, with still more being imported from Europe ("How Many Times Shall Caesar Bleed in Sport", included in "The Silent Cinema Reader"). Some of the earliest feature-length films were Shakespearian, too, including "Cleopatra", "Richard III" (both 1912) and "Antony and Cleopatra" (Marcantonio e Cleopatra)(1913). As Pearson and Uricchio, as well as others, have pointed out, these adaptations were an effort by the movie industry to lend cultural legitimacy to its product at a time when the art form still wasn't mainstream and faced threats of public censorship. Other literary and theatrical sources were adapted in addition to Shakespeare in an effort to win over the haughty.

As for this particular film, for what it is, it's not bad. It's an extremely truncated adaptation, with wordy title cards explaining proceeding action, which was common in early narrative films, especially literary/theatrical ones. In addition to the title cards, the filmmakers relied on audiences already being familiar with the play, which is another reason so many of these early films are based on popular literature and theatre. At least, this "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was photographed entirely outdoors, which freed the production from being stagy. There's also some substitution-splicing and superimpositions for fairy tricks. It's a rather average film for its time—nothing exceptional.

The filmmakers of this one were also responsible for other Shakespearian films, especially J. Stuart Blackton, who worked on all nine of those Vitagraph films and a few more Shakespeare adaptations apparently made by other companies. Blackton was a noteworthy film pioneer, who started out working for the Edison Company, was the key founder of Vitagraph and made the early animation film "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" (1906) and the amusing "Princess Nicotine; or, The Smoke Fairy" (1909), among other pictures.

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