Cinema did not take long to discover the potential of William Tell. The first film devoted to the Swiss national hero is said to have been made by French director Pathé in 1900, not long after the invention of moving pictures. Only a brief sequence survives from this early experimental work.
It is odd – and maybe symbolic – that one of the first major productions on this theme was made in Denmark, home of Tell’s rival, Toko. Other film versions were to follow, made mainly by Swiss film pioneers, who used the tools of silent cinema and their artistic talents to express their patriotism.
To date, there have been around 20 productions, including a number of television series made in the English-speaking world.