Thursday, October 11, 2012

Google Cultural Institute's Hamlet photographs from the LIFE Magazine archive.

In their ongoing endeavour to make all the world's knowledge searchable, Google has teamed up with an array of museums and archives to produce Google Cultural Institute.  The Museum's Association has some background.  Most of the venues are related to great cultural shifts or dedicated to commemorating awful moments in human history, Anne Frank House or the Nelson Mandela Centre for History.

Also in the mix is LIFE's Magazine's extraordinary collection.  These are not new to Google, and have been part of the image search for a few years, but Google Cultural Institute's presentation makes them far more accessible and provides a much richer experience in information terms.  Inevitably I wanted to see if some of the production history of Hamlet is available, and oh the riches.

Here then is LIFE Magazine's Hamlet history:

1865     Henry Irving
1956     Siobhan McKenna
1963     George Grizzard
1969     Nicole Williamson

* and not Greigud as the database would have it.

The Chamberlain Hamlet seems to be this production for the ITV Sunday Night Theatre, adapted by John Barton and Michael Redgrave as Polonius, Alan Bennett as Osric, Martin Shaw as Horatio and with John Gielgud as the Ghost.  Pieces of a fifth generation VHS copy of it are available on YouTube, but the sound's too horrendous to listen for too long.  Chamberlain has recently turned up in indie documentary Three Days of Hamlet as Polonius.

There are also a range of images listed under the headings Lit Shakespeare Hamlet and The Show Shakespeare Hamlet though the data on those is negligible though there seem to be line drawings of the likes of Kean.  When I have a moment I'll check through and see who's there and add them to the above chronology.  Nonetheless this is a fascinating collection especially the Burton photographs which include some colour images.

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