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Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996)

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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.

Director:

Trevor Nunn

Writers:

William Shakespeare (by), Trevor Nunn (screenplay)
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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: Trevor Nunn
Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Cary Elwes, John Wood
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Imogen Stubbs ... Viola
Steven Mackintosh ... Sebastian
Nicholas Farrell ... Antonio
Sidney Livingstone Sidney Livingstone ... Captain (as Sid Livingstone)
Ben Kingsley ... Feste
James Walker James Walker ... Priest
Helena Bonham Carter ... Olivia
Nigel Hawthorne ... Malvolio
Mel Smith ... Sir Toby Belch
Imelda Staunton ... Maria
Toby Stephens ... Orsino
Alan Mitchell Alan Mitchell ... Valentine
Peter Gunn ... Fabian
Richard E. Grant ... Sir Andrew Aguecheek
Tim Bentinck ... First Officer
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Storyline

Brother and sister Viola and Sebastian, who are not only very close but look a great deal alike, are in a shipwreck, and both think the other dead. When she lands in a foreign country, Viola dresses as her brother and adopts the name Cesario, becoming a trusted friend and confidante to the Count Orsino. Orsino is madly in love with the lady Olivia, who is in mourning due to her brother's recent death, which she uses as an excuse to avoid seeing the count, whom she does not love. He sends Cesario to do his wooing, and Olivia falls in love with the disguised maiden. Things get more complicated in this bittersweet Shakespeare comedy when a moronic nobleman, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and a self-important servant, Malvolio, get caught up in the schemes of Olivia's uncle, the obese, alcoholic Sir Toby, who leads each to believe Olivia loves him. As well, Sebastian surfaces in the area, and of course there is Feste, the wise fool, around to keep everything in perspective and to marvel, like we ... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Never send a boy to do a man's job, especially if he's a girl. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Ireland | UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 October 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Twelfth Night See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,451, 27 October 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$551,545, 22 December 1996
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Ben Kingsley and Sir Nigel Hawthorne appeared in Gandhi (1982), Turtle Diary (1985), and Freddie as F.R.O.7. (1992). See more »

Goofs

During one of the final scenes, when Malvolio reenters, it can be seen that his left shoe is missing. However, as he is walking up the stairs, you can clearly hear both heels clicking on the steps. See more »

Quotes

Sir Toby Belch: Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
See more »

Connections

Version of Katerina Izmailova (1927) See more »

Soundtracks

O Mistress Mine
Music by Shaun Davey
Words by William Shakespeare
Sung by Ben Kingsley
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautiful, Well Cast, A Swollen, Ponderous Dud......
25 June 2007 | by tonstant viewerSee all my reviews

In one of the DVD extras, a producer praises director Trevor Nunn as knowing more about Shakespeare than any man in England. (Not true, it's John Barton. But that's another story.)

Unfortunately, Nunn attempts to demonstrate his erudition in this beautifully photographed, somewhat medicinal misfire. In an attempt to serve up Shakespeare to everyone, he's bogged himself down in self-conscious paralysis. Despite the beautiful images and the star-studded cast, this is an airless, spineless lump.

Imogen Stubbs (Mrs. Nunn) is quite fine as Viola, and Richard E. Grant maintains great energy as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Just about everybody else is sabotaged by a leaden pace and a heavy directorial hand. Nigel Hawthorne's Malvolio is destroyed by the glacial tempo, and Helena Bonham Carter's charm wilts at half speed.

Mel Smith is beautifully cast as Sir Toby Belch, but is also just too darn slow. In a major miscalculation, Ben Kingsley's plays Feste as a menacing ex-con, perhaps Abel Magwitch strayed in from "Great Expectations." This is a Killer Klown from Kornwall.

And in order to keep things this sluggish, at least a third of the text of the play is missing. It's the language that makes Shakespeare immortal, not the plots. Bad idea....

Oddly enough, in group scenes, actors often lose character, just standing around staring blankly at whoever is talking. You never see this in films, and you shouldn't. It should never happen.

There is a 1969 ITV version circulating with Sir Alec Guinness as Malvolio and Sir Ralph Richardson as Sir Toby Belch to remind us of how far we haven't come.

But best of all is the 1980 BBC DVD with Felicity Kendall, Sinead Cusack, Alec McCowen, Robert Hardy and Robert Lindsay. That "Twelfth Night" is an ensemble delight from beginning to end, with a full text and virtually flawless in engaging the play successfully on every level at once. Run, don't walk. It's a genuine treat.


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