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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Creative and very English adaptation

Author: Ray Girvan from Devon, UK
21 February 2003

I just love this film. I didn't see the stage version, but this is an extremely clever adaptation of the play: a nice parallel construction where the human court is pointed up by using the same actors as the fairy court, and Bottom's friends reappearing as his fairy attendants. Desmond Barrit is brilliantly characterised, and the Mechanicals very creatively presented as English working-class (for instance, Bottom on a motor-bike combination). And we're left with no doubts that he does have sex with Titania, and donkey's ears are not all he gets from the transformation! I think it's one of the hallmarks of good Shakespearian productions that it manages to make the humour genuinely funny, and the play-within-the-play combines slapstick with genuine pathos. Ultimately, it was a very moving production, whose end (despite my being fairly hard-bitten) brought tears to my eyes with its deep nostalgia and Englishness. You are sorry to leave the world of these characters.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

different, but really well done!!

Author: italyzmafiachick from United States
29 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While it does take a bit of time to get things going, I found that it was REALLY well done! The way they did the woods scenes with the lights and the doors it made me look at it in a whole new way. The scenes in the woods required the watcher to use their imagination and it was so lovely! The characters and the dialogue are well done by the actors! The costuming and make up are wonderful and full of color!! I enjoyed it! The boy did puzzle me, but that was the only thing I could have done without! I just love Lindsay Duncan who most would know from HBO's ROME, she is such a classy lady and a very good actress. Puck reminded me of a young Robin Williams and was very good in his part. It was a good production and I would love to see it again!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Delightfully Surprised!

Author: ( from United States
8 December 2005

The little boy in the movie has read William Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. Like the title, he has a dream where he goes to different worlds and sees them act out the comedy. While it can get confusing, I prefer this film version because the little boy can be the audience. Not everybody who is going to see it is going to relate to the film. Shakespeare's Comedy is fantasy as well with fairies and an underworld all on its own. The boy may not grasp the language neither can most of the audience. But he does see what going on. Just like a title, it is his dream. Dreams can have fairies and be weird on its own. I like the fact that the director tried to do something different. After watching other versions, I like this quirky film for its pure hearted attempt to get people involved in Shakespeare. Like our dreams, they don't make sense a lot of the time. The acting here is average. You can't compare these actors to the other versions. They are not as seasoned as them but that's not the point. The Royal Shakespeare Company should be commended and applauded for taking a daring chance at bringing this play to a mainstream audience. If you want the old fashioned film, watch the 1968 version with Dame Diana Rigg, Dame Judi Dench, and Dame Helen Mirren. If you don't want that, you will enjoy and open your mind to Shakespeare's play without the bloodshed of his tragedies. By the way, since I am going to become an English teacher. I like this version because of the little boy.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not incredibly satisfying.

Author: TwzzlrFrk from London, Canada
17 August 1999

After it's been through hundreds of different settings and thousands of different interpretations, it's hard for directors to come up with original concepts for William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". As a result, we either get productions with highly original concepts that are terribly distasteful or we get a rather conventional interpretation that leaves us bored.

Adrian Noble has tried to transfer this masterpiece from the stage to the screen, and I'm afraid that he doesn't do a particularly good job. The concepts are original and quite intriguing, but the movie itself lacks the dynamism that this play has when performed on stage. The concept of adding The Boy is in my mind great, especially for the movie. Otherwise, I find the settings bland and monotonous.

The Royal Shakespeare Company does an excellent job in acting (of course they do - it's the RSC!) and I would love to see this performed on stage. As for the movie . . . not incredibly satisfying.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Provocatively Interesting

Author: Ann from United Kingdom
7 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Noble's adaptation of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is highly interesting in many ways which highlight the issues explored within the play, bringing many of them into a new light. The introduction of the new character 'The Boy' highlights the interaction between reality, dreams and imagination as the viewer is forced to reconsider the relationship between these concepts. Despite the fact that we appear to enter the boy's dream world, we are confronted by a number of inconsistencies which challenge this assumption, not least of which being the extensive doubling of the characters, as well as the apparent recognition between Hippolyta and Bottom when they are back in the 'real' world. There is also a suggestion that Theseus is fully aware of the events that took place in the fairy wood. The interaction between the boy and the fairies in both the 'dream' and 'real' world also complicates the straight forward assumption that we are witnessing the boys dream.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely lovely version of a classic, watch for the umbrella traveling fairies!

Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
18 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In Shakespeare's classic story, four lovers are playing cat and mouse. Hermia loves Lysander but her father prefers Demetrius. Demetrius, now smitten with Hermia, once courted Helena before he chose to abandon her. Helena still loves Demetrius dearly and persists in following him around. Hermia's father demands that she marry Demetrius and leader Theseus agrees with him. Hermia and Lysander secretly plan to meet each other in the woods and elope. Elsewhere, a group of amateur players are planning a production of Pyramis and Thisbe for Theseus and his lady, Hippolyta. And, the fairy world, led by Titania and Oberon, are feuding among each other and playing tricks. Puck, one of the conniving fairies, is sent to straighten out the love story between Helena and Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander. Puck bungles his assignment. And all on a summer's night! This gorgeous production is inventive and accessible. Watch the fairies arrive by umbrella and the amateur thespians travel by motorcycle, of all things! The principal actors are exceedingly wonderful, although not many of them have household names. One quibble was the production's ending. It failed to give us the resulting triumph of love for the four mixed-up lovers. Nevermind. This is a wonderfully unusual but superior film that proves, indeed, that Shakespeare is a keeper for the ages and ages to come.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

What would the RSC do if they had TV special FX?

Author: spikey-5 from United Kingdom
19 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This performance of Shakespeares best play by the Royal Shakespeare company is a visual gem. Contempory without throwing out the setting or the themes, presenting the original language in a way to appease both traditionalists and the MTV generation.

Of course, if anyone can do the play right its the RSC, but even they have not always hit the mark. This is by far the best envisioning they've done in the past few decades and the ability to pull off a few minor tricks with TV cameras that couldn't be done live on stage only adds to the whole film.

A nod to the origins of their craft is presented when most of the players play two roles, one in Faerie and one in Athens. The Duke is also Oberon, his bride Hypolita also Titania whilst their attendant Faeries are also Courtiers of the Noble couple. Even the players of Pyramis and Thisby are also the inner circle of Titania's grotto and all of this adds to the question of how much is real and how much is Dream.

The simplicity of set and props half convinces you time and again that it is a Staged show and not a movie, with Faerie scenes feeling very magical in an 80's pop video kind of way. (don't hold that against it, this is not matched by terrible pop video editing or camera work in anyway). The Costumes (especially the use of bright colours and single shade outfits) adds to the pop video feel without it detracting from the story.

All in all this is far better than the Kevin Kline Hollywood attempt at the play which lacks the same otherworldliness and basic acting talent. A Midsummernights dream told in a dreamy way without the dry throats or discomfort of summer.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Magical and funny!

Author: Olga Levina from Moscow, Russia
15 February 2002

Why this film is so underestimated? May be, because the same production looked better on the stage? Well, I've never seen it on the stage and am totally satisfied with the screen version. It is a wonderful mixture of a fair-tale dream and amusing comedy of characters and situations. The most startling thing about the film is the settings, which are colourful, imaginative, and picturesque, with magic lights. Costumes are also fascinating – artfully invented type of dressing for heroes of English boy's dream. I think that introduction of the boy is very clever and helpful in a film. The movie is beautiful and superbly performed. Alex Jennings and Lindsay Duncan act splendidly, and so does Finbar Lynch. But I especially like the love-quadrangle of Lysander-Hermia-Demetrius-Helena. Young actors are very spirited. Shakespearean text wasn't unnecessary edited and RSC actors speak it brilliantly. There is also a lot of fun. The production of that absurd Athenian troupe is just as ridiculous as it was meant to be, I think. I find plenty of things to enjoy about the movie; highly recommend it to everybody. P.S. Englishmen are extraordinary lucky to have the opportunity of enjoying RSC productions on the stage. What the rest of world would do without films?

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

so-o-o-o much better than the Hollywood version...

Author: oldgirl from USA
10 April 2006

If ever there was a film that actually improved upon the Shakespeare text, this is the one. The director's fluid treatment of the boundaries between light and dark, dream and dream, innocence and awareness, and fear and fantasy is really something to behold. Absolutely loved the timeless, yet contemporary feel of the costumes, and though it took some getting used to, eventually fell prey to the spell of the very strange and mystical 'forest' with its opening/shutting, rising/falling doors, quirky dangling lights, and odd, angular levels. Just the look of this film adds depth and resonance to Shakespeare's 'dream' motif. The superb acting - especially on the part of Lynch (Puck/Philostrate) and Barritt (Bottom) -- neither weighs down the lines (as so many British productions do) with pomposity nor allows the lines to weigh down the actors (as so many American productions do). Fantastic, fresh feel to this take on what has usually been nothing more than a fluffy little fantasy. And it's so-o-o-o much better than that mannered monstrosity given birth by Hollywood. Long live the Royal Shakespeare Company!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

True to Shakespeare's original...much better than the latest version...

Author: sg_otsr from Piggott, Arkansas, USA
29 June 2001

The Royal Shakespeare version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is highly conceptual; in fact it is quite abstract. However, as an English teacher I prefer this version over the Michelle Pfeiffer/Calista Flockhart/Rupert Everett version; mainly because it does not mess with Shakespeare's text. My students have watched both versions as they studied "Midsummer..." (although it should be noted at this point that this version is a bit naughty...the Royal Shakespeare Company brings out that quality which is found in Shakespeare's comedies). During the viewing I suggested that they tried to follow along in their texts. We quickly found that the latest film version rearranges chunks of text freely (for example part of Helena's last speech in Act I: Scene I occurs after Act I: Scene II where the rustics are introduced). I did not find this interpretation disappointing at all. One must remember that it is based on a stage production. Perhaps the fact that I hold a degree in Theatre is the reason I found it so enjoyable. I agree that the adding of the boy is a nice touch for the film; however, it did confuse some of my students. This version provides a nice contrast to some of the other versions.

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