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I am not a Shakespeare fan, but I certainly did enjoy this comedy. It was well acted by all including Ally McBeal, and the stand out job was done by Kevin Kline. The two hours literally flew by.
I really wanted to love this movie and it ended up being just fine, not great, just fine. The performances were all solid with Kevin Kline's performance reaching the level of truly inspired. (His role is truly the best written of the bunch). There were moments of absolute, non-stop hilarity, but the rest were only fine. It's too bad that the pacing didn't keep an effervescent quality at all times. As much as I love opera, some of the arias used as interludes and subtext actually slowed down the momentum of this movie. The choice of setting was superb and the special effects never overwhelmed the actors.
WOW! A remarkable retelling of A Midsummer's Night Dream. Rupert Everett's Oberon has a brooding to him that I have never seen which makes that role work for me in ways it has never before. Stanley Tucci is delightful as Puck - impish and coy but not over the top. A wonderful non Ally McBeal performance from Calista Flockhart - she nails Helena's love craziness. Dominic West plays Lysander beautifully you believe how much he loves Hermia, and then you equally believe him when he hates her. But the stand out performance is Kevin Kline as Bottom! The Play within a Play has never been so funny. And Kudos to director Michael Hoffman - the introduction of Kline's character is beautifully constructed with the donkey!
This 1999 movie was Hollywood's take on one of Shakespeare's most
popular plays. It boasts an impressive cast Michelle Pfieffer, Rupert
Everett, Anna Friel, Dominic West, Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart
and Stanley Tucci among them.
Until fairly recently, I did not enjoy reading Shakespeare's work it seemed very 'dry' when written on a page (to me, at least). However, when his words are acted out on stage or screen, it all falls in to place, and it's much easier to appreciate the wit and intelligence of Shakespeare.
In this case, I would suggest that some knowledge of the storyline of the play is helpful before watching (it does cover three interlinked stories), but it is certainly not necessary to have studied or read the play in any detail.
Briefly, Egeus (played by Bernard Hill) wants his daughter Hermia (Anna Friel) to marry Demetrius (Christian Bale). However, Hermia is in love with Lysander (Dominic West). When she is given the choice of marrying Demetrius, being sentenced to death, or living as a Nun for the rest of of her life, Hermia and Lysander decide to run away together. Hermia's friend Helena (Calista Flockhart, in a fantastic turn) is in love with Demetrius, but he loves Hermia.
Meanwhile, King of the Fairies Oberon (Rupert Everett) is estranged from his Fairy Queen Titania (Michelle Pfieffer); she has taken over the care of a changeling boy, after the death of the boy's mother, who was one of Titania's worshippers. Oberon wants the boy to work for him. He summons his mischievous but loyal fairy servant Puck to sprinkle a magic flower on Titania's eyes while she sleeps the spell it casts causes the sleeping person to fall in love with the first living thing they see upon waking. Oberon believes that Titania will fall in love with a creature of the forest (where the fairies all live) and while she is distracted, he can take the boy.
After seeing Demetrius and Helena arguing, Oberon also orders Puck to sprinkle the magic flower on Demetrius's eyes so that he will see and fall in love with Helena. Puck however has never seen Demetrius and when he stumbles across Lysander asleep in the forest (he and Hermia have stopped there for the night before continuing with their escape), he sprinkles the magic flower on Lysander instead. Helena then comes across Lysander and wakes him, and Lysander falls in love with her immediately. When Puck's mistake is discovered, he also sprinkles the magic flower on Demetrius's eyes, and Demetrius too sees and falls in love with Helena. The two young men argue over who should be with Helena, while Hermia accuses Helena of stealing Lysander's love.
While all this is going on, a group of workers in the village are practicing a play to put on at the wedding of the Duke Theseus and his bride to be, Hippolyta. During their rehearsals in the forest, Puck sees Bottom (Kevin Kline) and casts a spell giving Bottom an ass's head, which naturally terrifies the fellow performers. They run away, and Bottom falls asleep. And then he is the first thing that Fairy Queen Titania sees when she awakes
The plot sounds complicated, but it all plays out beautifully. The action is moved from Ancient Athens to Italy at the turn of the 19th century. The reason for this is not made clear (and the script retains its references to Athens), but it doesn't matter Italy looks lovely the film was shot on location, large in Tuscany. The fairy forest is enchanting, and even the cast are beautiful in fact the whole film looks as though it has had its own sprinkling of fairy dust!
The cast are all terrific. Stanley Tucci always under-rated excels as Puck, and really seems to be having fun with the character. Kevin Kline also makes the most of his part and gives a great performance. Puck and Bottom are probably the two funniest characters in the script, and I thought Tucci and Kline did great justice to the roles.
The script is actually very very funny I laughed out loud on a number of occasions and very romantic and sweet too. The interlinked stories tie up together well and the ending is perfect well, there must be a reason that Shakespeare is so revered centuries after his death.
Overall, this is a very amusing, and beautiful looking film. Even if you're not a fan of Shakespeare, I'd recommend giving this film a watch.
A Midsummer Night's Dream has always been one of my all time favorite
plays. I thought this movie did a slam bang job. I thought that Stanley
Tucci was refreshing as Puck. Most of the time people envision Puck as
a young happy-go-lucky fairy. I loved it. It reminded me to always look
at a different point of view. The best choice for the film was Kevin
Kline as Bottom. Bottom is one of my all time favorite characters.
Kline's performance was spot on. Rupert Everett was a superb choice for
Oberon. I believe this to be one of the best adaptations for a
Shakespeare play that I have ever seen. That includes Mr. Branagh, whom
I respect very much.
I recommend this movie to any Shakespeare lover. Or to any movie lover for that reason
The dream is my favourite Shakepearean play. Truth be told if I had the
choice, I'd rather seen the Dream performed live. This is one of the
most entertaining adaptations of Shakespeare I've seen on film. Most
films of a Shakespearean play are boring, but this one was beautiful
and hilarious. I rented it, but then purchase a copy so that I could
enjoy it over and over again.
The soundtrack was perfect, the setting was elegant, and everything worked together.
Puck played by Stanley Tucciin was superb. I think he should get much larger movie roles then he has in the past. I also really enjoyed Kevin Klines interpretation of Bottom.
If you love the Dream, you'll love this film.
This film adaptation of William Shakespeares 'A Midsummer Nights Dream'
is not without its failings...I don't, for instance, believe it was
necessary for Puck to get drunk and then go and urinate, or for the
four mortal lovers at the conclusion of the film to all be found in the
nude (however, there is something very Pre-Raphaelite about that
particular scenario, which I love) yet these small things are in no way
destructive to the films beauty. This independent film is exquisitely
beautiful; it is, visually, a banquet of Pre-Raphaelite imagery and
whimsically elegant Edwardian etiquette, and the faeries are amongst
some of the most beautifully attired creatures to grace the screen.
The Bard's comedy is originally set in Grecian times, but by moving the narrative to the 1890's/1900's it is easier to understand the motive of Oberon and Titania, who as spirits of the earth have grown elder, and are beginning to end their bond with humankind; they wish to give the highest ranking group of mortal lovers a sacred, almost heavenly blessing. It is also a poignant farewell, as we see during the finale when Oberon, the faerie king, eloquently says to Titania "Come my Queen, in silence sad trip we after the moons shade; we the globe can compass soon, swifter than the wandering moon..." This film, as well as being beautiful and bittersweet, also fits the plays original purpose, which was to be amusing. Nowadays comedy has to be rude or dirty to amuse the masses, sadly enough; the comedy in A Midsummer Nights Dream is innocent, but wonderfully amusing without being based on sexuality or human waste. Its exquisite. The actors portray Shakespeare's characters effortlessly; never once in the film is there the mood that these actors are reciting. I have never heard anybody, in fact, speak Shakespeare's intricate poetry with more grace and understanding than Calista Flockhart, Anna Friel or Michelle Pfieffer. Rupert Everrett makes a fine Oberon, putting divine handsomeness with an appropriate air of cunning and wisdom. Michelle Pfieffer commands the audience with her stunning speech and her acting performance, which is filled with grace and passion. Kevin Kline is adorable as Nick Bottom, and I think one of the most shining parts of the film is when the thespian playing Thisbe removes the costume aspects that make him seem female during Pyramus's death scene, and thusly the audience takes his acting more seriously.
Purchase this film for its beauty and its elegance-it will move you, and you will want to watch it again and again.
The adaptation is faithful to the spirit of Shakespeare. The timeless relevance of what he says is emphasised by the variety of settings in which his plays work - in this case 19th century Italy. The cast play the parts with love and look as though they are enjoying themselves. The American accents are irrelevant. They matter only if you feel that only traditional upper class British accents are essential and, of course, the accents of Shakespeare's time were very unlike British "received pronunciation!". The staging is engaging and clever without being intrusive. You don't find yourself thinking "that was a really clever effect" and, as a result, missing the next bit of text as a result. Sure, bikes weren't invented in Shakespeare's day but they work as a device in this film. The interaction of the faeries and mortals is cleverly done and the mechanicals play is hilarious. The music - 19th century Italian opera and Mendelssohn's Midsummer's Night Draem - works wonderfully. I just wish there had been movies like this around when I studied Shakespeare at school!
I loved this film so much thinking it was a wonderful adaptation of the original play. The tragical beginning and comical yet meaningful ending made it quite possibly the best revival of a Shakespeare play I have ever seen. With it's outstanding cast I'm surprised anyone couldn't find someone who they thought acted brilliantly in their role. The plot was wonderfully panned out and made me look at the script in a much different way than when I had read it. I watched this film when I was in High School and it got me intrigued in the plot again. Though this is no tragical play in terms it starts and ends with a real heart-tugging note. I feel it worked wonderfully as a play and even better as a film. I hope more adaptations of Shakespeare's work take place but I doubt anything can top that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a funny, well acted, beautifully photographed film version of
the play. Kevin Klein as Bottom the Weaver was super as was Michelle
Pfeiffer as Queen Titania. I read (before seeing the film) that Calista
Flockhart was not up to the material but she plays her part (the ditsy
Helena) spot on. I've seen a better performance for Puck, however the
sight gags (such as riding in on a giant turtle) are priceless and Mr.
Tucci does maintain a suitably impish expression.
Two scenes with Mr. Kline are especially noteworthy, first when he tries to convince the playwright (Peter Quince) that he, Bottom, can play every part in the play. This is a ham actor which doubtless William Shakespeare knew well. The second is when Kline wakes from his dream and thinks about what happened. There is real thinking going on behind his eyes and Kline acts this out with a clarity which is lovely to watch.
All in all, a joy to watch, well worth the spending of two hours time on the "foolish antics of these mortals (and immortals)".
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