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A duke usurps his brother's land and power, banishing him and his retinue into the forest of Arden. The banished duke's daughter, Rosalind, remains with her cousin Celia. She has fallen in love with Orlando, but he has his own tyrannical brother to contend with, so he joins those in the forest. Rosalind, now banished, disguises herself as a young man, with Celia as her servant, and follows Orlando into the forest. There, nature stirs love's fires in various rustics as well as in those from the court. Phebe, a shepherdess loved by Silvius, is herself smitten with the disguised Rosalind. Can true love find a way, and can brothers be reconciled and harmony restored? Written by
Little is known about the first performance (ca 1599), but tradition has it that William Shakespeare himself had the part of "Adam". The play was rarely performed thereafter for more than 100 years. See more »
Adequate, If Somewhat Aged, Adaptation of the Play
This is a decent adaptation of Shakespeare's "As You Like It", with the main reason to watch being a young Laurence Olivier as Orlando. The rest of the production is adequate, although some aspects of it are a bit routine. The story follows the play closely, except that of course a good proportion of the lines, plus occasional scenes, are deleted to bring it down to its movie length of about 90 minutes. You can definitely see its age at times, even more so than with most movies of the era, but it does have some positives too.
Very few performers come near Olivier's standard when it comes to doing Shakespeare, and even though this was one of his earliest efforts, he is still pretty good, delivering the lines well, although perhaps more brooding than necessary. The other lead, Elisabeth Bergner as Rosalind, does give her character a distinctive turn, but it does not always work as well. Still, she has plenty of energy, and that helps a lot. The production actually seems to highlight her performance more so than Olivier's. The rest of the cast is OK, but does not always have a lot to do.
The best productions of Shakespeare enable even those not familiar with the play to appreciate it, and this one probably does not do that. It will be best enjoyed by those who like the play and who also are already used to movies of the era.
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