Most of us have been watching Dame Judi Dench as an older woman in so many movies that it's difficult to remember her younger years. Her early film work from the 1960s is generally unmemorable: small roles in British movies like The Third Secret and A Study in Terror. The earliest film I have seen her in is the 1968 adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a fascinatingly strange version of the play with a great cast: Ian Holm as Puck, Diana Rigg and Helen Mirren as Helena and Hermia, David Warner as Lysander, Ian Richardson as Oberon and Judi Dench as Titania. The film was directed by Peter Hall, who had directed the play earlier for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a still from that movie (which isn't available on DVD, either). However, I did find a photo from Hall's 1962 RSC production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which also included Richardson as Oberon and Dench as Titania. She would have been about 28 years old. The RSC Pictures & Exhibitions site contains more photos of Dench in productions through the years. My little brother claims that these days, Dench gets an Oscar nomination for walking across the street, although I feel her performance in Mrs. Henderson Presents was one of the only reasons to watch the film. (The other reason was Bob Hoskins.) Perhaps these early photos of Dench will remind us of her amazing range in acting roles.
categories Features, Cinematical