The Shakespeare play--boy dresses as girl, falls in love with guy and is fallen for by gal; all eventually comes out OK.
After watching this Twelfth Night, I vaguely remembered having seen it when it originally aired back when I was a teenager. I know it made an impression: I've had a tune in my head close to the one Michael Steele uses for Feste's closing song ever since (I recently sang it with that tune to a student, in fact, saying I had no idea where I'd gotten the melody from). My husband and I enjoyed the film VERY much. I think almost everyone involved acted wonderfully--and, of the films of TN I've seen, most fully in the spirit of the play. Most of the characters in Shakespeare's Illyria--ironically, minus the fool--are primarily GOOFY. The name of the town--a kind of portmanteau word crossing illusory with delirium--tells us what these characters are like--and how could that not be so with its kooky plot of crossed loves and crossed garters. Play it too seriously and the thing sags under its own weight. Viola and Sebastian are counterpoints to this when they first arrive in this mad world, but first she and then he enter into the spirit. Richardson (Sir Toby Belch), Moffat (Sir Anthony Aguecheek), and Alec Guinness (Malvolio) played the goofiness like veterans--trying to look anything but goofy and totally nutty as a result. Orsino and Olivia were not as polished, but not at odds with the play. Joan Plowright was tough to look at--and listen to--as Sebastian--but Viola and Sebastian were written to have been played by men (the former in drag), so it's no wonder the ladies can't quite pull it off. The greatest surprise was Tommy Steele--who was properly sly and clever through most of the play, and perfectly wistful in that final, haunting song (I grant that his transition to that wistfulness was a bit abrupt, but so is Shakespeare's). All in all I thought it a thorough romp, well worth the time it takes to watch and watch again.
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