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10 July 2013

Amleto / Hamlet (1917)

The Italian silent production Amleto/Hamlet (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1917) is one of two hundred or more Shakespeare films that were made in the silent period of cinema. Film historian Luke McKernan introduced a screening of the film at the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival in 2004: "it is a good and interesting film. Not a great film, but arguably the best silent Shakespeare film that exists."

Ruggero Ruggeri as Hamlet/ Amleto
Italian postcard, no. 8067. Photo: Ruggero Ruggeri as Hamlet/Amleto, either on stage or in the film Amleto (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1917).

Ruggero Ruggeri in Amleto
Italian postcard. Editor unknown.

Ruggero Ruggeri in Amleto
Italian postcard. Ruggero Ruggeri as Hamlet and Mercedes Brignone as Queen Gertrude in Amleto/Hamlet (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1917). Caption: "Disgusted Hamlet assists to the wedding of his mother. Hamlet: 'That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.'" (Though these are Shakespeare's words, in the play however, Gertrude is already remarried.)

Triumph
The title role of Amleto/Hamlet was played by Ruggero Ruggeri, one the most important Italian actors of the first half of the twentieth century. Before making the film, he had already triumphed in a stage production of Hamlet. Amleto was his third film. Helena Makowska played Ophelia, and Mercedes Brignone, who is particularly good in the film, played Gertrude. Armand Pouget was King Claudius and Gherardo Pena played Laertes. The film was released in Italy, and after the war also in France, Britain and the US. Luke McKernan: "Amleto made under economic circumstances very different to the pre-war period when Italian epics conquered the world cinema market. It is an altogether more modest production; though not an impoverished one as such. It is certainly a film that needs to be much better known."

Ruggero Ruggeri in Amleto
Italian postcard. Ruggero Ruggeri as Hamlet in Amleto/Hamlet (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1917). Translation caption: "Horatio and Marcellus tell Hamlet of their vision of the ghost. Hamlet responds (Shakespeare's words): 'Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve, I'll visit you.'"

Ruggero Ruggeri in Amleto
Italian postcard. Ruggero Ruggeri as Hamlet in Amleto/Hamlet (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1917). Caption: "Hamlet's meditation: 'There's another: why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?'"

Mercedes Brignone in Amleto
Italian postcard. Mercedes Brignone as Queen Gertrude and Armand Pouget as King Claudius in Amleto/Hamlet (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1917). Caption: "Polonius: 'Your noble son is mad. Mad call I it.'"

Sources: Luke McKernan, and IMDb.

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