IMDb > Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996)
Twelfth Night or What You Will
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William Shakespeare (by)
Trevor Nunn (screenplay)
View company contact information for Twelfth Night or What You Will on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
25 October 1996 (USA) See more »
Before Priscilla crossed the desert, Wong Foo met Julie Newmar, and the Birdcage was unlocked, there was... See more »
Shakespeare's comedy of gender confusion, in which a girl disguises herself as a man to be near the count she adores, only to be pursued by the woman he loves. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
One of the best interpretations of Shakespeare See more (62 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Directed by
Trevor Nunn 
Writing credits
William Shakespeare (by)

Trevor Nunn (screenplay)

Produced by
Christopher Ball .... executive producer: Newmarket Capital Group LP
Mark Cooper .... line producer
Simon Curtis .... executive producer: BBC Films
Stephen Evans .... producer
David Garrett .... executive producer: Summit Entertainment N.Y.
Bob Hayward .... executive producer: Summit Entertainment N.Y.
Ileen Maisel .... executive producer
David Parfitt .... producer
Greg Smith .... executive producer
William Tyrer .... executive producer: Newmarket Capital Group LP
Ruth Vitale .... executive producer
Patrick Wachsberger .... executive producer: Summit Entertainment N.Y.
Jonathan Weisgal .... executive producer
Original Music by
Shaun Davey 
Cinematography by
Clive Tickner 
Film Editing by
Peter Boyle 
Casting by
Carl Proctor 
Production Design by
Sophie Becher 
Art Direction by
Ricky Eyres (supervising art director)
David Hindle 
Set Decoration by
Marianne Ford 
Costume Design by
John Bright 
Makeup Department
Christine Beveridge .... hair designer
Christine Beveridge .... hair stylist
Christine Beveridge .... key makeup artist
Eithne Fennel .... key hair stylist
Helen Johnson .... makeup artist
Barbara Taylor .... hair stylist
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou .... hair stylist
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou .... makeup artist
Production Management
Johnny Bamford .... unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Oscar Beuselinck .... second assistant director: second unit
William Booker .... assistant director
Emma Griffiths .... assistant director
Emma Pounds .... assistant director
Guy Travers .... assistant director
Art Department
Lee Betis .... painter (as Lee Betts)
Bobby Betts .... stand-by painter
Mark Brady .... stand-by carpenter
Anthony Caccavale .... painter
Julia Castle .... art department assistant
Martin Freeman .... carpenter
John Greaves .... storyboard artist
Rebecca Holmes .... assistant art director
Jonathan Hurst .... chargehand stand-by prop
Martin Kingsley .... property master
Colin Lovering .... scenic painter
Anthony McGee .... carpenter
John McGee .... carpenter
Daniel O'Regan .... carpenter
John O'Regan .... carpenter
Keith Pitt .... dressing props
Steven Sallybanks .... scenic artist (as Steve Sallybanks)
Anabel Yorke .... assistant to set decorator
Sound Department
Paul Cridlin .... boom operator
David Crozier .... production sound mixer
David Crozier .... sound editor
Diane Greaves .... foley artist
Joe Illing .... foley editor
Dominic Lester .... sound re-recording mixer
Mick Monks .... assistant sound editor
Robin O'Donoghue .... sound re-recording mixer
Alan Paley .... foley editor
Bob Risk .... supervising sound editor
Jack Stew .... foley artist
Peter Gleaves .... adr mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
James Davis III .... special effects senior technician
Jeremy Lovett .... special effects technician
Stefano Pepin .... special effects assistant
Visual Effects by
Courtney Vanderslice .... head of production: Cinesite
Aviv Yaron .... Compositor: Cinesite
Sarah Franzl .... stunts
Nick Gillard .... stunt coordinator
Derek Lee .... stunts
Lee Sheward .... stunts
Sarah Franzl .... stunt double: Imogen Stubbs (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Kenneth Atherfold .... grip (as Kenny Atherford)
Alex Bailey .... still photographer
Chris Bain .... camera trainee
Buddy Blackwell .... video assist operator
Roy Branch .... best boy
Paul Brinkworth .... grip
Dave Cook .... electrician
Dave Cook .... genny op
Steve Costello .... gaffer
Paul Cronin .... electrician
Wendy Dixon .... assistant still photographer
Jeremy Hiles .... camera operator
Philip Kenyon .... grip (as Phil Kenyon)
Nigel Kirton .... Steadicam operator
Mick Lay .... electrician
Rod Marley .... clapper loader
Pat Miller .... gaffer: effects unit
Dave Moore .... best boy
Jason Olive .... second assistant camera
Steve Roberts .... electrician
Peter Robertson .... Steadicam operator
Jonathan Sykes .... first assistant camera
Dean Thompson .... second assistant camera
Steve Tickner .... camera operator: second unit
Mike Valentine .... underwater camera operator
Peter Versey .... camera operator
Peter Versey .... camera operator: second unit
George Vince .... electrician
Tim Wooster .... camera operator
Jason Wrenn .... focus puller (as Jason Wren)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Maurizio Basile .... costume assistant
Joe Hobbs .... wardrobe master
Yvonne Hobbs .... wardrobe mistress
Sue Honeybourne .... assistant costume designer
Marcus Love-McGuirk .... costumer
Berverley Webb .... costume assistant
Editorial Department
Tullio Brunt .... first assistant editor
Paul Ensby .... color timer
Mike Fraser .... negative cutter
Liz Roe .... second assistant editor (as Elizabeth Roe)
Music Department
Valerie Armstrong .... vocals
Peter Beamish .... vocals
Linda Byrne .... piano: soloist
Sarah Byrne .... supervising: copyist
Rita Connolly .... vocals
Shaun Davey .... additional orchestrator
Noel Eccles .... featured percussion
Brian Masterson .... music recordist
Des Moore .... guitar: soloist
Fergus O'Carroll .... additional orchestrator
Martin O'Connor .... accordion: soloist
Alan Smale .... orchestra leader
Fiachra Trench .... conductor
Fiachra Trench .... orchestrator
Denis Woods .... computer programmer: music department
John Woolf .... musical director
Transportation Department
Tony Bird .... transportation manager
Other crew
Libbie Barr .... script supervisor
Liz Barron .... financial controller
Grietje Besteman .... underwater double
Claire Chapman .... production associate
Cleone Clarke .... assistant to producers
Gillian Dawes .... production coordinator
Steve Dent .... horse coordinator
Karen Gilbert .... production assistant
Emma Hepple .... horse handler
Ian Hodson .... underwater double
Stuart Hopps .... choreographer
Jonathan Hurst .... stand-by person
Julie Linnane .... accounting assistant
Miara Martell .... location manager (as Martell)
Elisabeth Penrith .... stand-in
Nick Prideaux .... stand-in
Malcolm Ranson .... fight director
Margaret Teatum .... post-production accountant
Nick Turnbull .... stand-by person
Elaine Tyler-Hall .... assistant choreographer
Ben Kingsley .... narrator (voice) (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Twelfth Night" - USA (poster title)
See more »
Rated PG for mild thematic elements
134 min
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

In Twelfth Night, the character of Orsino is several years older than Viola. However, at the time of the film's release, Imogen Stubbs (Viola) was 35; 8 years older than Toby Stephens (Orsino), who was 27.See more »
Audio/visual unsynchronized: Feste's guitar playing for Cesario (Viola) and Orsino does not match up with the soundtrack.See more »
Feste:Good madonna, why mournest thou?
Olivia:Good fool, for my brother's death.
Feste:I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
Olivia:I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
Feste:The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of Twelfth Night (1966) (TV)See more »
Heigh-Ho, The Wind and the RainSee more »


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18 out of 24 people found the following review useful.
One of the best interpretations of Shakespeare, 2 May 2005
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.

In Illyria, Orsino (Toby Stephens), a nobleman, is saddened because he cannot have the love of Lady Olivia (Helena Bonham-Carter) who is mourning the loss of her brother. Meanwhile, twins Sebastian (Stephen Mackintosh) and Viola (Imogen Stubbs) both survive a terrible shipwreck off the coast, but each thinks the other has died. Viola takes the guise of a man and goes to work in the household of the nobleman, falling in love with Duke Orsino. Meanwhile Olivia is taken with Viola who calls herself Cesario. This is the premise of one of William Shakespeare's most appealing comedies, Twelfth Night: Or What You Will, updated from Elizabethan England to late 19th century and brought to life by director Trevor Nunn. It is one of the best interpretations of Shakespeare that I have seen on film.

Reminiscent of other Shakespearean cross-dressing comedies such as As You Like It, Twelfth Night is mostly about the ins and outs of romantic love but it is also about pride, "overweening ambition", disguises, and mistaken identities. The play contains some of Shakespeare's most memorable characters: Sir Toby Belch (Mel Smith), Olivia's drunken uncle, his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Richard E. Grant) who is also trying to court Olivia, Olivia's gentlewoman Maria (Imelda Staunton), Feste (Ben Kingsley), the house clown, and Malvolio (Nigel Hawthorne) the prudish steward. Nunn has assembled a cast that more than does justice to the play. Imogen Stubbs as Viola actually looks like a handsome young man and has a sense of purity and innocence that makes her instantly likable. Helena Bonham Carter brings warmth to the character of Olivia who like Orsino seems to be in love with the idea of love not the reality. Some have noticed a similarity between the character of Olivia and Queen Elizabeth and interestingly, Olivia is addressed by Feste as "madonna", the only time the word is used in all of Shakespeare, perhaps a wry comment about the myth of the Virgin Queen.

The main story involves a love triangle between Orsinio, Viola, and Olivia but the minor characters have more than ample time on stage. Malvolio is both a comic and a tragic figure, said to caricature Sir Christopher Hatton, a courtier, romantic pursuer of the Queen and rival of the Earl of Oxford. Hatton was so fawning Elizabeth called him her "sheep" or "mutton" and this allusion is present early in the play as Malvolio is called a "rascally sheep-biter", harking back to Hatton's letter assuring Elizabeth that "The sheep hath no tooth to bite while the Boar's (Oxford) tusk doth raze and tear." Malvolio is a puritan who rails against people having fun, a trait that earns him the enmity of Sir Toby and Maria. To strike back, Maria engineers a joke on Malvolio. She forges a love letter supposedly from Olivia telling him that if he wants her to notice him, he should dress in yellow stockings and crossed garters and, as he woos Olivia dressed in his strange attire, Malvolio cuts a ridiculous figure (incidentally this is the same costume worn by Henry VIII when he danced with Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth's mother, at a masked ball, before he had her beheaded for adultery).

While there are many great performances, the star for me is Ben Kingsley who is totally convincing as Feste, a fool but a knowing one who functions as an objective commentator of the scene around him, exuding an air of righteous superiority. His portrayal of the priest Sir Topas who interrogates Malvolio in a darkened room has overtones of the 1581 trial and execution of Edmund Campion, a Jesuit priest who was executed by the English government in 1581. In his speech of less than fifty words, which appears to resemble nothing but nonsense, there are no less than five phrases which refer directly to Edmund Campion and his 1580-81 mission to England.

Richard Desper has pointed out that the mock trial scene works as a parody of the government persecution of Catholic martyrs. "The playwright," he writes, "demonstrates for us a world turned upside down, with clowns passing themselves off as men of learning, while men of learning …are pressed to deny what they believe to be true to serve political ends." The ending is too delightful to give anything away but it reminded me of the Ingmar Bergman comedy Smiles of a Summer Night, where mismatched couples get together at a summer cottage to sort everything out. Malvolio is pitiable in trying to redeem a shred of dignity but we feel for him when he exits saying, "I shall be revenged on the whole pack of you". As he leaves, he is the only person suffering in a sea of happy faces, those on screen as well as those at home.

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