The story of Shakespeare on film starts at the very end of the nineteenth century in the context of a theatrical performance. On 20 September 1899, a production of King John opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, with the theatre’s owner and actor-manager, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, playing the title role. The same night a short film re-creating scenes from the play had its premiere at the Palace Theatre, London, and at other theatres in Britain, Europe and America. Four scenes from the play had been filmed earlier in September at the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company’s open-air studio on the Embankment of the River Thames, each scene lasting about a minute.
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