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The British monarchy on screen$
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Mandy Merck

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099564

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099564.001.0001

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Her Majesty moves: Sarah Bernhardt, Queen Elizabeth and the development of motion pictures

Her Majesty moves: Sarah Bernhardt, Queen Elizabeth and the development of motion pictures

Chapter:
(p.111) 5 Her Majesty moves: Sarah Bernhardt, Queen Elizabeth and the development of motion pictures
Source:
The British monarchy on screen
Author(s):

Victoria Duckett

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719099564.003.0006

Sarah Bernhardt’s Queen Elizabeth (Henri Desfontaines and Louis Mercanton, 1911) was an international popular success, released in the US as a headline attraction for the Famous Players company founded by Charles Frohman and Adolph Zukor in order to distribute the film. It drew other theatrical stars to the cinema and helped to inaugurate the longer playing narrative film, furthering a new category of spectacle in cinema itself. Yet scholars and historians have long denounced Queen Elizabeth as anachronistic and stagey, material proof of its star’s inability to engage with film. Examining specific scenes and shots, this chapter will show that the film’s appropriation of a rich history of the stage, painting and literature challenges us to think of early cinema in new and provocative ways. The aim is not to uncover a lost masterpiece, but to demonstrate that only today, at a point at which we can discuss intermediality, transnational art forms and feminism as related undertakings, is it possible to explore Bernhardt’s “moving” Tudor Queen.

Keywords:   Queen Elizabeth I, Sarah Bernhardt, feminism, transnationality

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