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Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1988)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy | Drama | Romance
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 131 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 3 critic

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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Christopher Hollis ...
Julian Gartside ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
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Caroline Langrishe ...
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Abigail McKern ...
Shaun Prendergast ...
Christopher Ravenscroft ...
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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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Comedy | Drama | Romance

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Trivia

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 »

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Version of Twelfth Night (1910) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A thorough, pensive Twelfth
25 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

Personally, I like this Branagh-directed version very much (well, this movie was directed for TV by Paul Kafno, but it's based on a Branagh staging, and this is what the actors are performing). Granted, it cannot compete with the 1996 Trevor Nunn film, which is excellently colorful and comedic, and had a much bigger production budget.

The Branagh production is set in a TV studio in which has been built the ruins of a formerly rich but now dilapidated estate (Olivia's), and almost all the action takes place there, except for the scenes at Orsino's estate, which are covered in an atmospheric blue sheen that I found very effective at conveying the melancholy of the play (and Orsino's character in particular).

It's true that this production isn't very funny (although I was quite amused by the bit with the Christmas tree). I think this is deliberate. Branagh does not treat this as a comedy, but prefers to delve into the melancholy depth of the text. Thus, he does not provide a folk comedy, but a study in literary profundity. This is to the benefit of those, like myself, who like a philosophically heavy Shakespeare. Note that this version is 2 hours and 35 minutes long, and actually includes all the original text (although I thought Orsino's scenes were rather few and far between), which is always a big plus in my book.

I think all the actors of this production are excellent (and with great enunciation!), but it's true they lack the charisma of better-known faces like those of the Trevor Nunn movie. However, the one element that I find superior in the Branagh version compared to the Nunn version is Malvolio. Now, personally, I think, sacrilegiously, that Malvolio is generally the most boring thing about Twelfth Night. He's sort of like an artificially included comedy element which isn't that funny. I like the rest of the action much better. In Trevor Nunn's excellent movie, Malvolio is the one thing that, to my mind, does not work. Hawthorne acts the part too dramatically, and with too much self-pity. True, Malvolio does exhibit extreme self-pity in the original text, but I think this is supposed to be played for laughs and not to make audiences feel sorry for him (which, based on Hawthorne's histrionics, we never really did anyway). So I thought Richard Brier's Malvolio in the Branagh version was significantly better; still a sad and pathetic character, but in a way that gels with the rest of the mood of the play. He was more downbeat, and never distracted us from the rest of the action. So, overall, I enjoyed this production a lot, and will recommend it to those who prefer both a pensive and a complete text as basis for performance.

8 out of 10.


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