Friday, April 6, 2018

Oh'phelia: A Silent Burlesque Hamlet from 1919

Oh'phelia: A Cartoon Burlesque. Dir. Anson Dyer. Hepworth Picture Plays. 1919. BFI National Archive. YouTube.

The Lumineers. "Ophelia." Cleopatra. 8 April 2016. CD. Dualtone Music.
Oh'phelia is an odd early silent animated short film based on Hamlet. The play and its characters just form the starting point for a number of points of physical and linguistic humor.

The entire film is just over ten minutes long, and it provides glimpses at Ophelia, Hamlet, Polonius, Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes, and the anthropomorphic willow that grows aslant the brook.

I'm most fond of the way the show plays with the title cards. At one point, the phrase "bloody business" (not from Hamlet, though it can be found in Macbeth and Othello) threatens to appear, but the censor shows up just in time, so it ends up being the "blooming business" instead. At another, a quote is cited as coming from a scouting manual, but it suddenly becomes attributed to Shakespeare.

Here's a quick streamlined version. I've reduced it in length to fit the Lumineers' song "Ophelia," which somehow seemed appropriate.


The whole film is available on YouTube, so I'm embedding it here as well. If it disappears, at least the shorter version above will remain.


Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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