The Shadow’s Shadow,or Gendered Ambition in Asta Nielsen’s 1921 Hamlet
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCahiers Élisabéthains: A Journal of English Renaissance Studies. 2018, 20 (10), 1-19. 10.1177/0184767818813001
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was the subject of at least 13 silent films, yet Asta Nielsen’s 1921 Hamlet, directed by Svend Gade and Heinz Schall, was unique on several levels, with neither the play’s familiar language nor the visual icons one would expect. No film adaptation captures the tragedy’s thematic ambition as masterfully through the same interrogation of light and dark that the original play realizes through words. In this article, I explore the film’s strategic use of chiaroscuro in tandem with props and costuming and its continuing influence on the visual reception of Shakespeare’s play.