Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior (the banished duke), is raised at the court of Duke Frederick (who is younger brother to Duke Senior and took over his dukedom), with her cousin Celia ...
See full summary »
Out of work actor Joe volunteers to help try and save his sister's local church for the community by putting on a Christmas production of Hamlet, somewhat against the advice of his agent ... See full summary »
During World War I, in an unnamed country, a soldier named Tamino is sent by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the clutches of the supposedly evil Sarastro. But all is not as it seems.
As Macbeth rides home from battle three witches stop him. They tell him that he will soon rise in power, first becoming Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland. King Duncan has just ... See full summary »
The Moorish general Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality it is all part of the scheme of a bitter ensign named Iago.
Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior (the banished duke), is raised at the court of Duke Frederick (who is younger brother to Duke Senior and took over his dukedom), with her cousin Celia (daughter to Duke Frederick). She falls in love with a young man named Orlando, but before she can even think twice about it, she is banished by Duke Frederick, who threatens death if she comes near the court again. Celia, being Rosalind's best friend, goes with Rosalind (who is disguised as a boy, Ganymede) and Touchstone, the court's fool, to the forest of Arden. Upon their arrival in the forest, they happen upon Orlando and his manservant, who are fleeing the wrath of Orlando's eldest brother. What follows is an elaborate scheme devised by the cross-dressing Rosalind to find out the verity of Orlando's supposed passion for her, and to further capture his heart, through the witty and mischievous façade of Ganymede. Written by
Filmed in Wakehurst Place, a botanical expert from Kew Gardens was on hand in order to check the ground to ensure endangered plants were not damaged during filming. Cast and crew literally were told where they could and couldn't step when off footpaths. See more »
The fool doth think he is wise but, the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
See more »
The picture seems to end without the play's Epilogue. Then, the closing credits begin, when they are suddenly interrupted by Bryce Dallas Howard, still in character as Rosalind, who then is seen speaking the Epilogue as she begins to walk to her trailer, drinking a cup of coffee along the way. After the speech, Kenneth Branagh can be heard offscreen saying "Aaaand...cut!" After this, the closing credits resume. See more »
Branagh imaginatively revitalises another Shakespeare play
Kenneth Branagh seems to get a fair bit of stick in some places, and I'm never quite sure why. Whether it's because he picks unfashionable projects to direct or star in, or because he comes across as a theatrical English "luvvy", I don't know. But for me, his lonely (almost solitary) championing of modern big screen Shakespeare adaptations has always been cause for celebration. Time and again he has sought to make the bard's literature not only appealing and comprehensible to the audience of today, but also relevant - to show that Shakespeare has always got something to say about society and people. If nothing else, English teachers worldwide must be relieved there are alternatives to showing kids the more archaic Olivier golden oldies.
His latest adaptation, As You Like It, is no exception. For those unfamiliar with the play, it's basically a romantic comedy, with a bit of political drama thrown in for good measure. Here the action is relocated from Middle Ages France to 19th century Japan (stay with me), when the country was being opened up to the West. A small group of Western settlers have more or less set up their own private kingdom here. You can find a detailed plot synopsis elsewhere on the web I'm certain, but I'll try and summarise it anyway: Rosalind (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the daughter of Duke Senior (Brian Blessed, with long white hair), who is usurped by his own treacherous brother, Duke Frederick (Blessed again, with dark hair this time, doing the usurping in a neat wordless sequence). Senior is exiled to the forest with his followers, while Rosalind is forced to remain and keep Frederick's daughter Celia (Romola Garai) company. Frederick becomes paranoid though, and banishes Rosalind as well shortly afterwards. Celia, best friends with Rosalind, decides to accompany her; naturally, both are forced to disguise themselves, which causes complications when the one Rosalind loves, Orlando (David Oyelowo), declares his undying love for her.
Bright, breezy and instantly accessible, Branagh has come up trumps. Staying behind the camera this time out, the cast is led by Bryce Dallas Howard, in a performance that will surely (if there is any justice in the world) attract awards attention. The part of Rosalind is one of the most popular and sought after female roles in all of Shakespeare. She is sweet and kind, but not simpering - she's quite decisive too. She is the dynamic behind the play's actions, and Howard seizes the role with everything she's got. The supporting cast are uniformly excellent too - the legend that is Brian Blessed is always great value, and he does well here in his dual role, particularly the evil Frederick. David Oyelowo is also excellent, while Alfred Molina is very funny in the comic relief role of Touchstone, the court fool. Look out too for Patrick Doyle, the film composer who provides the score here but also performs on screen in the singing role of Amiens.
Obviously the unique spin on this adaptation is the setting. The play is mostly set in the forest of Arden, so nature is a prominent theme throughout. Branagh highlights this by moving the action to pre-20th century Japan, where beauty and peace can be readily found in nature. The film is gorgeous to look at, not only in the forest settings, but also in the 'court' during the first act's coup d'etat - the sets and costumes look brilliant.
I won't try and argue that this is going to be the best film of 2007, because I'm sure that would be nonsense. The film has faults, although some of these might be attributed to the source material (with which I'm not familiar) - one or two characters seem to disappear halfway through, while Duke Frederick's fate is a cop-out even by Shakespeare's standards. But the important thing is that Branagh has made the play very easy to follow, very humorous and also given it a contemporary edge, as well as making an entertaining film in its own right. And for that, he surely deserves a cheer at least.
I urge anyone to seek the film out, whether you're interested in Shakespeare or not, because it is simply great fun. Here's hoping Mr Branagh continues to get his films funded and made.
42 of 51 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this