Pick of the Programmes: The Heart of Midlothian



'Why is it that the works of Sir Walter Scott, the prince of romanticists, have been so largely neglected by the cinematographer, when other less suitable stories have been eagerly snapped up for film purposes? The present admirable version of The Heart of Midlothian is not quite the first Scott novel to be filmed, it is true; but one wonders, nevertheless, that the opportunity to secure so fine and picturesque a tale has for so long remained vacant. Be that as it may, one is very glad to find the omission rectified at last, and it is certain that no version of the book could be more satisfactory in most respects than this delightful adaptation by the Hepworth Company, who have lavished upon it that great care of detail and for pictorial beauty which characterises their best work. Photographically, this firm have probably never done anything finer, and, if only for this reason, the film would be worthy of considerable attention.
The story of The Heart of Midlothian contains much that is sad and even painful. It is, however, an intensely human story, and it also affords a very interesting glimpse of the manners and customs of the past. In the film much of the somewhat prolix novel has necessarily had to be omitted, but the essence has been retained and skilfully adapted for the screen. It is, that is to say, a very good picture play, which is also very representative of its original. There are at present one or two points in the story, as represented on the screen, which are not entirely clear or not quite sufficiently accentuated as they stand, such as Jeanie's refusal to save her sister's life by an easy lie, but this fault may speedily be remedied by the addition of few extra sub-titles. Otherwise, the play - considered apart from the novel - is well constructed, powerful, and very unusual in theme.
The Heart of Midlothian has the advantage of being interpreted by some of the Hepworth Company's cleverest artistes, including Miss Flora Morris, who gives a most tenderly pathetic picture of the heroine; Miss Violet Hopson, who acts with her greatest sweetness and sincerity as the latter's sister; Mr Stewart Rome, who makes a strikingly romantic figure of the outlaw; and Mr Warwick Buckland, who contributes a very finished and sympathetic study of old Crofter Deans. The atmosphere of those exterior scenes supposed to be laid in Scotland is well suggested, and the studio settings throughout are remarkable for their solidity and perfection of detail. There is also a very picturesque glimpse of Hampton Court Palace.
As we have already said, the film constitutes a magnificent example of the possibilities of artistic photography. It includes scene after scene of the highest pictorial beauty as regards lighting, composition, and arrangement, and its quality is always flawless. Altogether, we consider The Heart of Midlothian a very distinguished production. Both in setting and in story, it is very largely a novelty where films are concerned, and its connection with Scott's famous novel lends it, of course, still further interest. It is a picture which should prove extremely popular with every intelligent audience.'

TitlePick of the Programmes: The Heart of Midlothian
Date1914-04-16
Comments
SourceThe Bioscope