Much Ado About Nothing Film Analysis

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Film director Sir Peter Hall once said in an interview that “...Shakespeare's text is essentially theatrical and it's dependent on an imaginative make-believe between the audience and the actor” (Shakespeare in the Cinema). Shakespeare’s work has been adapted to film countless times in the last century, as they have been reproduced on the stage since the sixteenth century. The argument over which was better has been present since his work transitioned from stage to screen. Much Ado about Nothing is an excellent example of this, specifically in comparison of the 1993 film edition and the 2011 stage play at the Wydham Theatre in London. Both Kenneth Branagh and Josie Rourke did an excellent job with their directing choices in both, yet neither…show more content…
The film treats the party as a masquerade type of dance - with each person wearing their own (in this case identical) clothing and a mask of their choice to conceal who they are. This take works wonderfully as it leads the audience to believe that they have actually fooled each other. The same goes for the trick between Hero and the Prince - unless she could detect by his voice that he was not Claudio, it was a perfect disguise. The live version takes on the party as they would within their setting - as a costume party. While this is amusing for the audience it does nothing to hide who the characters themselves are - this takes away from the illusion within the play. Benedick is the only one hard to recognize, in “Miss Piggy” drag, with his large sunglasses and pig nose. The conversation Beatrice shares with him hints that she is fully aware who she’s speaking to, while the foolish Benedick believes he has tricked her. This applies to the scenes in Leonato’s garden as well - Benedick’s eavesdropping is arguably the best scene in the live action version. Tennant proves himself a god of comedy with his exaggerated blocking, expressions, and liberal use of white paint, which he proceeds to cover himself with in his own incredulity. The use of the revolve in this scene does well to suggest that he…show more content…
Simply put, the gap between comedy and drama for this cast is too large. The more serious scenes in the show are awkward, more specifically the wedding scene and confession scene that follows it. The wedding is done wonderfully in the film; each person on screen showcases the appropriate reaction to what’s happening in the moment. Claudio’s aggressive tone and movements are matched by the others in the scene, creating a intense, high energy scene. The live version, however, seems to struggle with this scene. Instead of an emotional, intense scene it appears to be Claudio having a tantrum. While the outburst is consistent with his character thus far, the other characters are almost non-responsive to his accusation. Those sitting in the church pews are more solemn than shocked and upset, almost as if they were previously aware of Hero’s infedility. All the energy seen in the previous scenes in lost, as though the cast, having perfected the comedic scenes, are not sure how to handle something more serious. The same goes for the following scene, in which Beatrice and Benedick confess their love to each other. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson do a phenomenal job with this scene. In the aftermath of such heavy events the audience is given a sweet, endearing confession of love followed immediately by the grievous request that Claudio be killed. Thompson

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