Macbeth (1916 film)

Macbeth is a silent, black-and-white 1916 film adaptation of the William Shakespeare play Macbeth..[1] It was directed by John Emerson, assisted by Erich von Stroheim, and produced by D. W. Griffith, with cinematography by Victor Fleming. The film starred Herbert Beerbohm Tree and Constance Collier, both famous from the stage and for playing Shakespearean parts. Although released during the first decade of feature filmmaking, it was already the seventh version of Macbeth to be produced, one of eight during the silent film era. It is considered to be a lost film.[2]

Directed byJohn Emerson
Produced byD. W. Griffith
Written byJohn Emerson (scenario) and Anita Loos (intertitles)
Story byWilliam Shakespeare
Based onMacbeth (play)
StarringHerbert Beerbohm Tree
Constance Collier
CinematographyVictor Fleming
George W. Hill
Distributed byTriangle Film Corporation
Release date
  • June 4, 1916 (1916-06-04) (United States)
Running time
8 reels (~7500 feet)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film (English intertitles)

In the companion book to his Hollywood television series, Kevin Brownlow states that Sir Herbert failed to understand that the production was a silent film and that speech was not needed so much as pantomime. Tree, who had performed the play numerous times on the stage, kept spouting reams of dialogue. So Emerson and Fleming simply removed the film and cranked an empty camera so as not to waste film when he did so.[3]


Further reading

  • Buchanan, Judith (14 May 2009). "6". Shakespeare on Silent Film: An Excellent Dumb Discourse. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87199-0.


  1. Macbeth at
  2. Leggett, Steve (29 December 2016). "List of 7200 Lost U.S. Silden Feature Films 1912-29" (PDF). Library of Congress. National Film Preservation Board.
  3. Brownlow, Kevin; Kobal, John (1979). Hollywood: The Pioneers. Knopf. ISBN 978-0394508511.
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