Beerbohm Tree’s Silent Macbeth (1916)

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014

Still from the lost silent film of Macbeth (Triangle-Reliance, 1916)
Starring Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree &  Constance Collier

 

As Kate notes in Haunt Me Still, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was “one of the great Shakespearean actors and theater impresarios of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.” He was also an early experimenter in moving Shakespeare to the silver screen. In 1916 he made an 8-reel silent film of Macbeth. So far as anyone knows, it is lost, surviving only in stills.

His first foray into Shakespearean film does survive, however, and gives a taste of what he looked like in motion. In 1899, in what is the first known bit of Shakespeare on film, he performed a scene from King John:

 

Shakespeare in Silence: Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree in King John, 1899

 

It’s a marvelous look at how acting styles have changed across a hundred years.




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