Shakespeare's intertwined love polygons begin to get complicated from the start--Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia's father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy. The plot twists up when Oberon's head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. Throw in a group of labourers preparing a play for the Duke's wedding (one of whom is given a donkey's head and Titania for a lover by Puck) and the complications become fantastically funny. Written by
The opening text tells us that the movie is set at "the turn of the 19th century," which would be around 1800. It meant to say "the turn of the 20th century," as the movie is clearly set around 1900. See more »
[Puck has turned Bottom into a donkey]
Bottom, thou art changed. What do I see on thee?
Bottom the Weaver:
What do you see? What; do you see an ass' head of your own, do you?
Bless me. Thou art translated.
[all run off, leaving Bottom alone on the stage]
Bottom the Weaver:
Why do they run away? I see their knavery. This is to make an ass of me.
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As a general rule, I normally don't post comments unless I have enough time to write a thorough review, and have given it much thought before hand. I'm sorry, but even though it's 2am, I can't bear to go to sleep and let the review before me just sit there. Obviously the reviewer before me seems to have no idea that the complicities that arise from the various plots go back to Shakespeare himself - and it is a great achievement by this film to manage to keep all the plates spinning and all the stories interesting.
I am amazed by this film. I am a life-long Shakespeare fan and it's great to see a faithful American production. The British/American cast all worked fantasically well together - Christian Bale, Anna Friel, Dominic West, and Calista Flockheart were all perfectly cast as the four lovers. The fairies and the actors both worked very well to frame the story - and the director has managed to keep it both visually unique and incredibly entertaining.
I'm not quite sure why they decided to change the location from Greece to Italy, but in an age where Kenneth Branagh is trying to make a 1940s musical out of Love's Labour's Lost, I say, the changes could be a lot worse. All in all, this is a very impressive adaptation. I'm just happy to see that Shakespeare hasn't lost his appeal to modern audiences.
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