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Much Ado About Nothing (The new Penguin Shakespeare) [Paperback]

William Shakespeare , R. A. Foakes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 1968 The new Penguin Shakespeare
Set in a courtly world of masked revels and dances, this play turns on the archetypal story if a lady falsely accused of unfaithfulness, spurned by her bridegroom, and finally vindicated and reunited with him. Villainy, schemes, and deceit threatens to darken the brilliant humor and sparkling wordplay--but the hilarious counterplot of a warring couple, Beatrice and Benedick, steals the scene as the two are finally tricked into admitting their love for each other in Shakespeare's superb comedy of manners.


Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (1 Feb 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140707093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140707090
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 11.1 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Like Love's Labour's Lost, Much Ado about Nothing shows Shakespeare moving into a more complex and darker terrain through his exploration of an apparently harmless comical romance. The play revolves around the adventures of the two gallants Claudio and Benedick at the court of Sicily. Claudio falls in love with the governor's daughter Hero, and is eager for his more misanthropic friend Benedick to also find love. Benedick is introduced to the fiery, independent Beatrice, and sparks soon fly as they banter with each other in a more wittier version of Kate and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. Beatrice has some wonderful ripostes to marriage asking why should a woman marry "a clod of wayward marl", whilst Benedick grumbles that "She speaks poniards and every word stabs". Meanwhile, the jealous Don John convinces Claudio that Hero has in fact been unfaithful to him. When Claudio rejects Hero on their wedding day, she faints and is taken for dead. In the hectic final scenes the play moves towards reconciliation between Claudio and Hero, and the tentative admission of the love between Benedick and Beatrice. Famously filmed by Kenneth Branagh in the Tuscan countryside with a cast that included Keanu Reeves, Much Ado about Nothing remains one of Shakespeare's most successful comedies. --Jerry Brotton.

Review

"Zitner has written one of the finest introductions to the play that I have seen. I hope that between this edition and Branaugh's film we can make the play come alive to the present generation of students."--Ronald J. Boling, Lyon College"Handy, reliable, altogether excellent...with introductions that truly cover everything and notes that explain all that needs to be explained."--Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superb Film - Rotten DVD 22 July 2008
Format:DVD
The Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' is one of the happiest and most charming films I have ever seen (despite the tense bit in the middle and the tedious nature of the bard's original story).
This DVD is let down -so- badly by the rough and ready transfer, which has the following problems:
1) This is 1.4ish:1 and not widescreen as it says on the packaging (the original film -was- widescreen)
2) The colour in the original film was wonderful - alas not the DVD, where unsightly colour aliasing and contours are evident
3) There isn't even a decent Scene Selection capability, just a small number of whole 'acts', so it is very hard to find your place if you don't see it all the way through
4) No Extras whatever, despite the fact that there was a lovely 'making of' featurette made (I watched it on TV).

Please, please, please could we have a widescreen anamorphic reissue (Region 2) with all of the above corrected?

I for one would pay full price.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ..so should I buy it? 6 Oct 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
There are plenty of detailed critiques of the performances and production on here which I won't attempt to emulate; this review is rather for the casual browser who is hovering around the 'add to basket' button. So - Yes! I bought this at a price pretty much equivalent to rental - and I would heartily recommend it as great value and good entertainment. It has its weaknesses - the DVD transfer is not particularly high quality (I'd like to see a fully restored, Blu-Ray version) and has no supplementary material. Of the performances, only Keanu Reeeves' is really dubious - he brings to the part of John the Bastard an impressive physique and little else. There's also some of that rather cloying best buddies quality that accompanies Branagh's core troupe. However, overall it trips along with a light touch and is very entertaining - genuinely so on the strength of the play, not just for the interest of the interpretation. The cinematography and scenery are superb (though again, some colour restoration would have helped, and some of the cast had gone very pink in the Italian sun!). I enjoyed Keaton's perfomance as Dogberry, though I struggled to hear everything he said, and it did remind me of Beetlejuice. I'd forgotten how luminously beautiful and engaging the young Kate Beckinsale was before she became Hollywood Barbie (sigh..), and was very impressed by the naturalness of Denzel Washington's delivery, as Branagh's integration of US actors sometimes jars.

You don't have to be a Shakespeare fanatic to enjoy this, but there is equally plenty there to satisfy the enthusiast. Hit that button!
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Kenneth Branagh's adaption of Much Ado About Nothing is a sheer delight to watch. I first saw it six years ago to prepare for a performance of it at school. The whole class fell in love with the film and while it may fall behind Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet in pure greatness, it soars ahead in sheer fun and exuberance.

As with Hamlet from 3 years later, the set is moved forward a few hundred years which just gives a fresh and vibrant touch to the film. Branagh himself plays Benedick and the chemistry between him and his (then) wife Emma Thompson as Beatrice makes you wonder why they could ever have split up. It is the war of words between these two that provide some of the main highlights of the film, especially their initial exchange:

Benedick: 'God keep your lady in that so some man may 'scape a pre-destinate scratched face'.

Beatrice: 'Scratching could not make it worse onto such a face as yours'.

Benedick: 'Well you are a rare parrot teacher'.

Beatrice: 'A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of your tongue'

Benedick: 'I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue'.

Branagh is also not afraid to throw in American actors and their effect ranges from the fish in water (Denzel Washington's Don Pedro), to the aquittable Keanu Reeves to the outstanding thespian but altogether too Yankee Robert Sean Leonard. However the real American star of the film is Michael Keaten with his sidekick Ben Elton who give a Monty Pythonesque twist to Dogsberry and Verges.

Branagh directs the film with style and his choice of music is outstanding. The all-star cast deliver as expected and it all adds up to one of my alltime favourite films.

One little criticism is the actual DVD itself.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD
I do love this film version of Much Ado About Nothing and I want to point out that the two stars are not for the film at all but for the DVD. Having gone to the trouble (and not inconsiderable expense) of ordering it, I was severely disappointed that it had NOTHING but the film as such. No extra material whatsoever, not even subtitles, and you cannot even switch to the beginning of each scene, just of each act! It would have been far less expensive to buy the videotape, and that would have been equally useful.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fatally Flawed 4 Feb 2004
By JBV VINE VOICE
Format:DVD
I reviewed this film when the DVD was first released, but amazon, in their wisdom didn't publish it. so...
Lets not get this wrong. I love this film. I really do.
On the other hand this DVD is a travesty.
The picture quality is the same as the video, that is not as good as the copy i made off the TV! Sound quality is excellent (unlike the video).
No extras. Poor picture. Great sound and acting.
I don't know if the US version is any better, but it can't be any worse.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The whole thing looks fun, fun
The whole thing looks fun, fun, fun plus Mr Washington in blue leather pants!!
Published 12 days ago by Flibberty
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Branagh and crew at their best, this makes Shakespeare accessible to everyone; without lose of humour or language. Neither of which is easy.
Published 14 days ago by tayo
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Ado about Nothing
This is an excellent production and very well cast. Ken Branagh and Emma Thomson are both in their prime, so make very good Benedict and Beatrice. Altogether very entertaining.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. G. Daniels
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare at its best.
Excellent for all the family, and invaluable aid to school curriculum. Branagh, Thomson and co at their best. Great music too
Published 1 month ago by Derek Whiteley
5.0 out of 5 stars Super film!
This film has everything. Beautifully made, just have a night in, cuddle up with your loved one and enjoy. Terrific!
Published 1 month ago by Mr A Pettit
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book.
If you want to understand Shakepeare, buy this book.
Modern translation,page by page, so easy to enjoy, it brings Shakespeare's writng to life.
Published 2 months ago by TONY
5.0 out of 5 stars can watch over and over
in my view a brillaint adaptation of the play. filmed on location so it makes for some stunning scenery. Cast is excellent. Read more
Published 3 months ago by L. Dunn
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much Branagh trying too hard
I found this no more than an average adaptation. There were moments that jarred, such as all the girlish rushing about in the early scenes and some of the costumes were risible. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. R. Dersley
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Bought for my grand daughter as she is studying this at school. A great film with a super cast. Great
Published 3 months ago by Sonya
5.0 out of 5 stars Old order
Excellent film/ Delivery ok (as far as I can remember). Amazon have produced each time and I do recommend your business.
Published 4 months ago by Dafydd ap Gwilym
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