Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

Hamlet (1913, Hay Plumb)

Release LocationsGB
DirectorHay Plumb
MediumBlack & white video
Length1 hrs, 3 mins
Audiencegeneral public
Play ConnectionsHamlet (interpretation)


In a 1913 interview, Cecil M. Hepworth, the producer, said that this Hamlet was ". . . the most notable event up to the present in the history of British cinema." Even allowing for PR-hype, which even then was escalating into a major industry, the film deserves a niche in history as a unique record of the performance of a major 19th-century Shakespearean actor, Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson. Sir Johnston's electrifying portrayal of Hamlet, along with the Frederic B. Warde King Lear, provides a time capsule for viewing the acting techniques of eminent Victorians. Moreover, since Forbes-Robertson and his colleagues were actually speaking the lines as they declaimed them on the stage of London's famous Drury Lane theatre, those familiar with the text can follow the play almost word for word. To appreciate this film, you need to know not less but more about Shakespeare's play. No danger whatsoever exists, as seems to have been the case with the Barker silent Hamlet, that an audience of mutes might decode vile oaths from the actors' lip movements ("Interview with C. Hepworth," Bioscope 24 July 1913: 275)

Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. ©1990 Kenneth S. Rothwell. Cited by permission. — Added 2008-11-14

Cast Overview

PlayerRichard Andean
Marcellus/1st PlayerRobert Atkins
PlayerRobert Atkins
PoloniusJ. H. Barnes
FortinbrasGrendon Bentley
QueenAdeline Bourne
HoratioS. A. Cookson
OpheliaGertrude Elliott
HamletJohnston Forbes-Robertson
OsricGeorge Hayes
GravediggerS. T. Pearce
GhostPercy Rhodes
Player QueenOlive Richardson
GuildensternE. A. Ross
RosencrantzMontague Rutherford
GravediggerJ. H. Ryley
LaertesAlex Scott-Gatty

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorHay Plumb
ProducerCecil M. Hepworth
Adaptor/TranslatorHawes Craven

Company Overview

Playgroup The Drury Lane Company

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell