Synopsis: Danish silent movie-star Asta Nielsen formed her own production company to make this film, in which new elements are combined with features (and a few lines) familiar from Shakespeare's version of the legend. The most important of these changes sees Hamlet made into a female character - a princess forced to masquerade as a man by her scheming mother; from this follows Hamlet's secret passion for Horatio and rivalry with Ophelia for his love. Queen Gertrude is here presented as conspiring in her first husband's murder, and the old king's ghost does not appear - young Hamlet merely hears a voice from the tomb and (apparently) dreams of him. In addition, Hamlet now kills Claudius (in a fire) immediately upon returning from Norway with an army led by old school- friend Fortinbras, and it falls to Gertrude to engineer Hamlet's death in the fencing match as well as kill herself by accidentally drinking the poisoned wine.
Genre: Drama
131 min

Hamlet was performed for the first time on the 4th of February 1921 in Berlin; no original negative survives.

All intertitles of this restoration follow the text of the German censorship records from the 10th of November 1920.

Missing or damaged sequences are complemented with film materials of the French rental company version that come from the same negative as the German version.


Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF Frankfurt 2006/07

With financial support of ZDF in collaboration with ARTE and the Hessian Cultural Endowment

Copy work:

Haghefilm Conservation Centre, Amsterdam

In collaboration with

Archives Franaises du Film du Centre National de la Cinmatographie

Counseil Gnral de la Charente

For centuries scholars have argued about Hamlet and the meaning of Hamlet's legend.

The most important poets of all time have written of Hamlet's life.

Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, calls Shakespeare's play a tasteless hodgepodge of mood and nonsense.

Herder says that Hamlet is in an habitual emotional crisis.

Even Goethe has rejected the fame of Hamlet in the sharpest way.

Hamlet is a castrated sheep!

Recently, the American Professor Vining, a Hamlet specialist, has given us a new interpretation.

The key to Hamlet was, until now, a deep secret - - Hamlet was a really woman!

Asta Nielsen-Film


Drama in a prelude and 6 acts

after Motifs from the Hamlet specialist, Professor Vining.


King Fortinbras of Norway fell in battle against the Danes.

The Danish King Hamlet, his opponent, was critically wounded.

The Danish people expect news of the birth of a successor to the throne.

The Queen's hour of giving birth.

A boy?

No, Queen, a Princess!

Our king is wounded and dying!

Woe! The Crown is lost!

This is my advice, Queen. Announce the Princess as the heir to the throne and the people will believe it is a boy!

Health to our Royal Family! A Prince is born!

Thanks to you, loyal men, our victory gives me new strength!

With you wounded, I thought the throne lost. To save the crown, I sent our daughter as a successor to the throne!

What was announced to the people, cannot be undone. God keep our secret for the good of the country!

End of Prelude

Act 1

Prince Hamlet's youth.

Hamlet worries me; it isn't good for him to be always alone!

It is my wish that you go to High School in Wittenberg.

I greet you, Queen, and dear sister-in-law!

The high school in Wittenberg.

My name is Horatio, from Provence.

How wonderful Provence must be!

And Laertes, in love with being a perpetual student.


Inhibited wings

This is Fortinbras, Prince of Norway

My father fell by a Danish sword! But I want to be free of this hate!

His lust for the King's throne drives Claudius to reckless deeds.

You belong to me, and whatever is in the way, I will destroy!

Now the throne belongs to me!

Where do I find prince Hamlet?

My Father --- dead?

A poisonous snake bit him!

End of Act 1

Act 2

King Hamlet was barely in his grave, when the marriage of Claudius and Queen Gertrude was celebrated.

The Finance Minister, Polonius, passes the crown to the new King.

Horatio, the loyal friend of Hamlet, has accompanied him to Denmark.

Prince, you come exactly at the right time. You can attend the funeral meal and wedding feast at the same time!

Away with the last sign of grief! It is a happy day for us.

Father, in your whole empire, I am the only one left to mourn you!

Is the rumor right, old man, that it was you who found my father?

I found the snake also, Prince, and to me, it looked like one of the venomous snakes from the Castle Dungeon!

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    "Hamlet" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 28 Jun 2022. <https://www.scripts.com/script/hamlet_9523>.

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