After the overthrowing of Duke Senior by his tyrannical brother, Senior's daughter Rosalind disguises herself as a man and sets out to find her banished father while also counseling her clumsy suitor Orlando in the art of wooing.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Brian Stirner ...
Richard Pasco ...
...
...
Clive Francis ...
Richard Easton ...
Tony Church ...
John Quentin ...
Maynard Williams ...
Victoria Plucknett ...
Marilyn Le Conte ...
Tom McDonnell ...
David Lloyd Meredith ...
Arthur Hewlett ...
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Storyline

Orlando is forced to work like a servant for his brother Oliver, so he goes to win his fortune in a wrestling contest, where he meets a lady of the court, Rosalind. Rosalind (daughter of the deposed duke) is companion to Celia, niece of the deposed Duke, and when the current duke banishes Rosalind from the kingdom, she, Celia, the court jester (and incidentally Orlando) all end up in the forest or Arden, where the deposed Duke holds court. Romantic mixups, cross-dressing, love poems nailed to trees, and a lion await them all. Written by Kathy Li (revised by Albert Sanchez Moreno)

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17 December 1978 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: As You Like It  »

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Trivia

This was one of only two BBC Shakespeare productions shot on location, the other being Henry VIII (1979). However, the location shooting received a lukewarm response from both critics and the BBC's own people, with the general consensus being that the natural world in the episode overwhelmed the actors and the story. See more »

Quotes

Orlando: Only in the world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied when I have made it empty.
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Version of As You Like It (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

Darth Vader does Shakespeare
24 October 2009 | by (Southeastern Massachusetts) – See all my reviews

What a great idea to shoot this play on location and mostly outdoors. The green meadows and leafy forests fill the production with the breath of life, and a remarkable natural feel. Not only does the outdoor filming suit the pastoral setting and themes of this play. By staging everything on location, and in an unsophisticated way, it makes us all the more attuned to how a script and a company of actors can transform a familiar, real-life location into something else. A fictional scenario suddenly becomes real before our eyes. Seeing this production, it's a reminder that your neighborhood park could easily serve as the stage for drama and high-flown rhetoric.

Who cares about the technical difficulties? When Rosalind has to brush aside a fly unwelcomed by the production, it's all the more charming, the way it increases the realism and spontaneity.

All this comes through even more because this is a largely straightforward recording of a play, not an earnest work of cinema. I'm all for fluid and creative camera work, but here the mostly static camera is the better choice, making us feel more that we are attending a live play outdoors, not a movie that's clearly removed from our reality.

This is exciting...and frankly, As You Like It needs all the excitement that can be supplied. I'm not exactly a Shakespeare connoisseur, but it seems to me that this play is one of the fluffier, flimsier plays of his I've seen.

For such a long production, very little happens. It's light in tone but lacks the comedy, scheming, and twists of other plots like A Midsummer Night's Dream. For any of the interesting stuff in this play (some well-written dialogue, a few gestures towards action or suspense, gender-bending, even pseudo-lesbianism way ahead of its time), you can probably find some other Shakespeare play that does it better. Even by the standards of the time, it breaks credibility that Rosalind's lover and her own father can't see through her boy-disguise and recognize her. The play feels like either a test run written early in the Bard's career or a rehash from the end. I would've had a much harder time watching this production if filmed indoors on sets, even artistic or otherwise well-made ones.

On the other hand, this play stands out because it has wrestling. Wrestling?! In Shakespeare?! I guess so! And not that amateur wrestling like students do for school -- think pro wrestling, but not fake! (It's all the funnier to see lowbrow pro wrestling in highbrow theatre like Shakespeare.) This TV movie treats us to a fully-staged match starring Darth Vader. And I don't mean James Earl Jones, a noted actor for whom a Shakespeare performance would be nothing unexpected. No, we get the man in the black suit himself, David Prowse, whose role even requires him to speak many lines! Yes, Darth Vader does Shakespeare!

Prowse holds his own in both the fighting and reciting, although you can tell he's not the talented professional that the other actors are. Speaking of whom, they are the other chief strong point for this movie. (Oddly, though, they didn't reshoot a few scenes in which Helen Mirren stumbles on her lines.)

Also notable for Le Beau, the twittiest character ever; a Dana Carvey lookalike playing leading man Orlando; and the leading ladies decked out in court dresses with headpieces you have to see to believe, like something taken from a sci-fi picture or maybe Hammer House of Horrors.


5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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