Danish silent movie-star Asta Nielsen formed her own production company to make this film, in which new elements are combined with features (and a few lines) familiar from Shakespeare's ... See full summary »
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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered by Claudius, Hamlet's uncle. Claudius usurps the throne of Denmark, and marries Hamlet's recently widowed mother. Hamlet is tormented, haunted, and increasingly unstable.
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Danish silent movie-star Asta Nielsen formed her own production company to make this film, in which new elements are combined with features (and a few lines) familiar from Shakespeare's version of the legend. The most important of these changes sees Hamlet made into a female character - a princess forced to masquerade as a man by her scheming mother; from this follows Hamlet's secret passion for Horatio and rivalry with Ophelia for his love. Queen Gertrude is here presented as conspiring in her first husband's murder, and the old king's ghost does not appear - young Hamlet merely hears a voice from the tomb and (apparently) dreams of him. In addition, Hamlet now kills Claudius (in a fire) immediately upon returning from Norway with an army led by old school- friend Fortinbras, and it falls to Gertrude to engineer Hamlet's death in the fencing match as well as kill herself by accidentally drinking the poisoned wine. Written by
Mark Doran <email@example.com>
Hamlet by Svend Gade and Heinz Schall, starring Asta Nielsen.
While some of the scenes of this adaptation follow Shakespeare's text, it is largely based on the 1881 book "The Mystery of Hamlet" by Edward P. Vining, who argues that a Norwegian legend from the 12th century was the inspiration for Shakespeare's play. According to this legend, Hamlet was actually a woman disguised as a man in order to become King.
This film is therefore mostly interesting for the original description of Hamlet's behaviour towards her mother, Ophelia and Horatio. The sets both indoor and outdoor are quite impressive and the acting, notably by Asta Nielsen is very natural for the period.