Austrian-born director Max Reinhardt did not speak English at the time of the film's production.He gave orders to the actors and crew in German with William Dieterle acting as his interpreter.The film was banned in Nazi Germany because of the Jewish backgrounds of Reinhardt and composer Felix Mendelssohn.The shooting schedule had to be rearranged after Mickey Rooney broke his leg while skiing. Warner was furious and threatened to kill him and then break his other leg. The film premiered in theatres in Europe in September 1968. S., it was sold directly to television rather than playing in theatres, and premiered as a Sunday evening special, on the night of 9 February 1969. A Midsummer Night's Dream was filmed on location in Lazio and Tuscany, and at Cinecittà Studios, Rome, Italy.The action of the play was transported from Athens, Greece, to a fictional Monte Athena, located in the Tuscan region of Italy, although all textual mentions of Athens were retained.The film made use of Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music for an 1843 stage production (including the famous Wedding March), alongside operatic works from Giuseppe Verdi, Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, Gioacchino Rossini and Pietro Mascagni.Welles had previously produced a Broadway stage adaptation of nine Shakespeare plays called Five Kings in 1939.In 1960, he revived this project in Ireland as Chimes at Midnight, which was his final on-stage performance.
Ralph Richardson's narration is taken from the works of chronicler Raphael Holinshed.
Set and costume design evoke the Europe of 1939; the music (classic Broadway songs of the 1930s) and newsreel-style footage are also chief period details. The company hired the complete stage cast of the play and filmed at Walthamstow Studios using largely natural light.
The film marked the screen debut of Matheson Lang who went on to become one of the leading British actors of the 1920s.
In this version, a group of school children are attending a puppet performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream when they are drawn into the story and become the characters, dressed in Elizabethan costumes.
The film, inspired by the play, prominently features a modern interpretation of the play put on in a private high school in a small town.