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Seeing Sarah BernhardtPerformance and Silent Film$
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Victoria Duckett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039669

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039669.001.0001

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Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

A Moving Picture, 1912

(p.100) 4. Queen Elizabeth
Seeing Sarah Bernhardt

Victoria Duckett

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the 1912 feature film Queen Elizabeth as a reflection of Sarah Bernhardt's roles in the late nineteenth century and her insistence that these could remain relevant to audiences in the twentieth century. In histories of the cinema, Queen Elizabeth is a film consistently referred to as an example of “filmed theater.” The chapter considers the cinematic practices that Queen Elizabeth reveals and how the film draws upon the long and rich history of Queen Elizabeth's appearance in the theater, the visual arts, and the popular presses. It argues that Queen Elizabeth was an intelligent and creative response to the theatrical possibilities of the cinema and to the tastes and fashions of Bernhardt's day. It also discusses how Bernhardt brings to film the same practices and processes that Paul Delaroche had earlier brought to history painting. Finally, it shows how Queen Elizabeth establishes a link between Elizabeth and William Shakespeare, thus presenting itself as film that animates history.

Keywords:   feature film, Queen Elizabeth, Sarah Bernhardt, audiences, cinema, filmed theater, William Shakespeare, Paul Delaroche, history painting

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