She's been restored and rescored.
I'm heading out to catch a rare screening of a restored nitrate print of Hamlet (Germany, 1920) tomorrow. It's part of the Girls Will Be Boys series, at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.
Shakespeare in Performance says it's "based on Edward P. Vining's eccentric book, The Mystery of Hamlet (Philadelphia, 1881), it features a prince who, though actually a woman, for reasons of state has been raised by Gertrude as a young man. Burdened with this secret, Hamlet at Wittenberg falls in love with Horatio. Naturally Hamlet rejects Ophelia but still feels pangs of jealousy when Horatio falls in love with Ophelia. Only at Hamlet's death when Horatio holds her in his arms is the prince's true gender revealed."
Critic Cole Smithey has more on the unusual find, "When the German Film Institute (DIF) was offered a toned and colored nitrate copy of HAMLET (D 1920/21, directed by Svend Gade and Heinz Schall) with Asta Nielsen in the title role, initially the restorers didn’t realize what a treasure they had chanced upon. The film, which had previously only been available in black and white, has since been carefully restored."
Alternative Film Guide has this to say, "Nielsen may have liked this sort of gender-bending role. She also played an androgynous character at least once before, in Urban Gad’s Zapatas Bande / Zapata’s Band."
Asta must have felt strongly about taking this role, since she decided to produce the work herself, forming her own company to do so. In the 20s, when gender bending was almost as popular as in the androgynous 80s, critics theorized that Hamlet had in fact been a cross-dressing woman.
Here are two good summaries of upcoming films at the MVFF, October 4th - 14th.
One by The Evening Class, and another from Hell on Frisco Bay.
I hope to attend at least one Mill Valley Film Festival event -- the Shotakovich scored Battleship Potemkin at the Marin Veteran's Memorial Auditorium. So far, it looks like the cheap seats are still available. Many of the festival's other screenings are already sold out, or available to those willing to stand in a RUSH line.
Tix are still available for the new Julian Schnabel film, Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It could turn out to be another megalomaniac masterwork. Schnabel has a way with making big canvas, big money stories, and a monstrous ego, add up to much more than just a grandiose monstrosity. I wonder if he'll feature himself prominently in the film.
Also, lots of African and Romanian films may tempt you to cross various bridges, especially the Nigerian film, Laviva.
The Evening Class and Hell on Frisco Bay have inspired me to make an effort to attend those lesser-known showings. I'll probably be able to see the latest Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Ang Lee, or Tod Haynes creations when they're making the arthouse rounds. By the way, Cate Blanchet plays the young pseudo Bob Dylan in Haynes' poetic biopic.
Good luck getting in if you don't have passes, a CFI membership, or a reliable car to get you to Mill Valley.
pictured: Nigerian director, Izu Ojukwu