What Shakespeare play would you guess the earliest filmmakers would think to put on film? Perhaps a comprehensible tragedy like Romeo and Juliet? Or a relatively-straightforward comedy like Midsummer Night's Dream?
Well, I won't keep you in suspense. It was King John. It's the deathbed scene. It lasts about a minute and a half. It's not terribly interesting. But it is the earliest extant extract of Shakespeare on film—it was made in 1899: a hundred and nine years ago!—and that makes it, of necessary, both significant and fascinating! Here it is, in its entirety:
Links: The Film at IMDB.
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