Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Frederick Warde, Wayne Arey
Genres: Classics, Drama
It seems strange to even attempt a silent version of a Shakespeare play, but they frequently were made throughout the 1910s. This filming of King Lear had the advantage of starring Frederick Warde, who had played King Lea... more »
Early rendition of a classic story
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 06/03/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"More than any other storyteller, Shakespeare's work has lived down through the ages because his stories are timeless, such as in the case of this film, "King Lear". Strip away the 17th century setting, costumes and Old English language, and you'll find that the characters and their relationships, their greed for power, the plots and conspiracies, have not changed through the centuries. Old King Lear, deceived by his two elder daughters' sweet but false words, hands over the kingdom to them while banishing his youngest daughter who is actually true and honest. More intrigues and plots to overthrow brothers and fathers continue within the royal families until justice is served, albeit with a sad ending for some. The story is well told by 1916 standards, with good sets and costumes of the period, as well as solid acting performances slightly reminiscent of theatrical stage productions but not excessively so. In fact, Shakespeare's stories were not uncommon in early films because they were popular stage plays at the turn of the century, and a well-known stage actor, Frederick Warde, plays King Lear in this film adaptation. Considering the wealth of dialogue in a Shakespeare play, it must have been a challenge to make a silent film version of one, but this 1-hour feature does quite a fine job of it. The title cards are frequent but not in excess, and although it may take a little effort to understand the old-fashioned language, the story is still easy enough to follow. Also a little challenging is the picture quality which is either too dark or too light, making facial features hard to see clearly at times, but otherwise the film is still in good condition. The accompanying music has not been composed to suit the film, but unlike some mid-priced or budget DVDs which simply add any old musical recording regardless of mood, setting or atmosphere, Televista has at least chosen pieces of music to suit the film, such as various short pieces of Early Music dating from the 1600s or thereabouts. There are also a few other pieces played on synthesizers, but the overall effect is not too bad. This DVD would probably be most appreciated by those who enjoy Shakespeare and classic stories, and who can either overlook the passing of over 90 years, or find it fascinating to see how Shakespeare was performed nearly a century ago.