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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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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:

Before Priscilla crossed the desert, Wong Foo met Julie Newmar, and the Birdcage was unlocked, there was... 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

Gross USA:

$588,621

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$588,621
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

The cast includes one Oscar winner: Sir Ben Kingsley; and four Oscar nominees: Sir Nigel Hawthorne, Helena Bonham Carter, Imelda Staunton and Richard E. Grant. See more »

Goofs

Feste's guitar playing for Cesario (Viola) and Orsino does not match up with the soundtrack. 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 Macbeth (1993) 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

 
The height of autumnal wistfulness.
4 June 2003 | by HenryHextonEsqSee all my reviews

Reading Trevor Nunn's thoughts on his film, it is easy to conclude that they were lucky to obtain such sublime weather for the large duration of the filming, in November. The Cornwall locations are absolutely enchanting; showing an England so far from the urban norm these days. The beautiful natural light, with later dark contrasts, perfectly complements the jovial, winning mood of this Shakespeare comedy brought to screen: and, what is more, this is truly beyond any sense of 'heritage cinema', as Shakespeare's genius is retained.

Yes, it is all a very 'accessible' package, but much is unusual and distinctive to this film adaptation. Ben Kinglsey is perhaps the most glaring instance of a radical re-invisioning; his acting - stripped bare of artifice - is utterly compelling and keeps you watching his every mannerism. This Feste is an eccentric, multi-talented clown and performer, but he also bears words of cutting, melancholy truth. Indeed, both are wonderfully combined with the gorgeously sad scene of Staunton, Grant and Smith listening to his sad song: they listen and the words cut into their veneers. Loneliness is at their very core. What a brilliantly rounded comedy this is; balanced by melancholy - the inch-perfect awry note struck by Hawthorne's Malvolio appearing at the end - and good will - the comradely bonhomie that Grant and Smith are indeed shown to share.

Hawthorne and perhaps more surprisingly Mel Smith and Richard E. Grant really do a fine job and imbuing some real character in their parts; treading a line between broad comedic playing and human sadness. Along with Kingsley's career-best (? not seen too many of his films) performance, they lend this film its heart, and play very well against the wonderful settings. Mackintosh and Stubbs are I guess a little less compelling, but these roles are really difficult to carry off... nothing about them really lingers too long in the memory, like Kingsley's expressions, bizarre little pieces of dance and his pared-down delivery. Helena Bonham Carter is perhaps overly assured as the vain countess dame, Olivia: oh so archly bemused when faced by the cross-gartered, prancing Hawthorne, but generally Ms. Bonham Carter is very much in her usual, predictably petulant, period-costume mode. Which is probably being unfair; she does convince, at the end of the day.

Overall then, a wonderfully colourful delight, bearing the flavour of bright, melancholy late summer-into-autumn. A strange chill is cast by the compelling Kinglsey; a sadness that cannot be dispelled. This film has light amusement in addition to this real edge, and is ultimately a very affecting rendering of a bona fide Shakesperean classic.


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