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Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1988)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy | Drama | Romance
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 126 users  
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A noblewoman disguises herself as a young man and falls for her employer, a lovesick count. Unfortunately, the count's beloved falls for the disguised noblewoman and a comedy of unrequited love and mistaken identities ensues.



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Title: Twelfth Night, or What You Will (TV Movie 1988)

Twelfth Night, or What You Will (TV Movie 1988) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Credited cast:
Christopher Hollis ...
Julian Gartside ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tim Barker ...
Caroline Langrishe ...
Abigail McKern ...
Shaun Prendergast ...
Christopher Ravenscroft ...
James Saxon ...
James Simmons ...


A noblewoman disguises herself as a young man and falls for her employer, a lovesick count. Unfortunately, the count's beloved falls for the disguised noblewoman and a comedy of unrequited love and mistaken identities ensues.

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Comedy | Drama | Romance


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Did You Know?


The Shakespearean ballad performed by Feste - "Come Away Death" - borrows an adapted melody from Paul McCartney's song "Once Upon A Long Ago". McCartney graciously donated the melody of his song for Kenneth Branagh's original stage production of Twelfth Night, performed by the Renaissance Theatre Company, and allowed the melody to be used in the film version. See more »


Version of Was Ihr wollt (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

A Winter In Illyria - Winter Wonderland
16 September 2005 | by (Orlando, Florida, USA) – See all my reviews

This version of Twelfth Night is the best version I've ever seen, and so far, is only the second filmed version that follows the complete text of the play (the 1980 BBC version is the other).

This is the only film version that strongly emphasizes the issue of love and loneliness amidst a festive time of year, and allows the oft-abused gender-issue theme to dissipate into the background.

Branagh (courtesy of Shakespeare) brilliantly captures the other-world, eerie feeling of desolation and loneliness that comes with being sick in the heart and mind with hopeless love.

Set amid a wintry, dusty-white, snow garden backdrop, illuminated by dazzling, spectral blue lighting schemes, and later, pure, bright white lighting schemes, each scene emanates a beguiling, mysterious, other-worldly feeling that one feels while contemplatively walking alone through a forested/garden area on a midwinter's christmasesque day.

From the onset, we learn we are in the enchanted land of Illyria. The mythical stone statutes in the barren stone garden, the garish-Gothic lighting, the melancholy rivulets of melodies, the foolish love-sick people, the foolish drunken people, all convey the feeling of a mystical Illyrian land filled with music, leisure, and hedonism.

But we quickly learn that beneath the enchantment, beneath the Christmas festivities, the foolish people are desperately isolated, alienated, and hopelessly full of burning, unrequited desires.

Present mirth hath present laughter, What's to come is still unsure...

Anton Lesser steals the production as Feste, the lonely, wandering clown who sees all and knows all.

Caroline Langrishe shines as Olivia, expertly shifting between feigned innocence and deceptive intellect.

James Simmons, James Saxon, and of course the great Richard Briers delightfully lampoon themselves for our amusement, while diligently conveying to us the desolation of a life without romantic love.

Christopher Ravenscroft is hot (I had to say it that way) as Orsino, and buffoons himself just enough to make us simultaneously laugh at him and pity him. In one key scene, Ravenscroft/Orsino allows us to believe that he knows Cesario is a female, and makes the same allowance to a stunned, confused, and even scared Cesario. That scene alone makes this film worth buying. It epitomizes the theme of the duality of human nature (the masks we wear), a theme that Shakespeare employs ad infinitum.

Thanks Ken for finally getting this released on DVD.

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