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Johnston Forbes-Roberston gives his famous performance of Hamlet in this ambitious early Shakespeare feature
This production of Hamlet by the Hepworth Company is foremost a record of a signature performance by Johnston Forbes-Robertson, honed over many years - he first played the role in 1897. Passages such as Hamlet's famous soliloquy, while sensitively performed, tend to be speech-heavy - but the film does display cinematic ambitions in its great location work at Lulworth Cove and Hartsbourne Manor and well-choreographed action sequences such as the final duel.
This full length Hamlet was one of the first feature films ever made in Britain. A glance at the other titles - Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, East Lynne and Lorna Doone, for example - shows that producers were likely to look for tried and trusted classics as their subjects. Given the scale of investment needed to make a long film, Shakespeare was always bound to be top of the list.